By Jason Fuller:
The phrase “first impressions last a lifetime” is true, and quite frankly, can determine individuals’ professional and social growth. This would turn out to be one of the overarching themes during our video training with Doug Mitchell. Doug served as a producer and director of National Public Radio (NPR) for the past 25 years! His network, words of wisdom, experience as well as his personal journey and influences resonated with me. While speaking with Mr. Mitchell, I took away three main points which will enhance my already budding journalist career. (1) Have patience, (2) network and (3) be ready for opportunities.
Americans want everything faster; this ranges from data, opportunities, education, food and of course results. Doug told me, Jonquilyn and Pauly the same thing that he tells all of the interns, “you won’t know everything by age 25, so you certainly won’t have all the skills in the course of a few months.” This was a minor setback and a reality check. I have time sensitive goals, including completing graduate school by age 28, and starting my journalism career shortly afterwards. He encouraged us to keep our goals, but do not declare your goals failures because of a timetable.
In conversation with Doug, he said the word network approximately 20 times! The difference between a date with destiny or despair can lie within an individual’s introduction. The key to networking and a successful elevator speech is having assurance in your own abilities, ambition and determination. While at UNM, I have already taken Mr. Mitchell’s advice and have diversified my associates and friends, creating firm relationships.
Doug’s last piece of advice was to be unwavering in pursuit of opportunities. Depending on our goals, we have to be ready to explore different cities in order to progress as journalists. This can be terrifying, but necessary to determine whether or not we are cut out to be in a larger or smaller market. My family’s relocation from Detroit to Albuquerque took me out of my comfort zone, but relocating by myself is another challenge that I must face in the future.
Aside from Doug’s extensive experience and recommendations, I was thoroughly impressed by his family background. The wealth of knowledge within his immediate family was rather intimidating as they cultivated a culture which places value in education. This was noticeable as his family pushed one another to excel; this directly translates to Doug’s investment in young journalists’ of color.
Doug practices what he preaches as he serves as the producer and director for Next Generation Radio. Through this program, Doug grooms cohorts of young journalists who provide their voices and perspectives to NPR, while enhancing their knowledge of radio. He embodies the African proverb “it takes a village to raise a child,” which is why many of his mentee’s call him dad. When a person’s greatest achievement is the preparation of the next generation, then they truly are invested in humanity and its advancement. Thank you Mr. Mitchell, not just for passing the torch, but for giving us the map, so we too can pass on knowledge to those who come after us.