Basundhara Mukherjee: Life after JCamp

BasundharaI started JCamp as a mere high school journalist naïve about the field of journalism and emerged with a realistic view of my future. My week in Washington, D.C. was filled with rigorous, yet enthralling days, learning from the best journalists of the industry, refining my skills and fostering my passion for journalism.Even after my week in Washington, D.C., JCamp continued to have an immense influence on my life. A week after returning home, I sent my work to Huffington Post’s blogging team, which had been a dream of mine for nearly two years. With my newly developed networking skills, I finally gained both the knowledge and support to chase after Huffington Post. I also found myself stepping out of my comfort zone.

My most recent HuffPost article about race in our society was inspired by a JCamp session with NPR’s Michele Norris, who spoke extensively about her experiences with diversity and journalism. My article received widespread social media recognition, from Twitter to Facebook to an appearance on the front page of Huffington Post Teen, upon being published. Although initially publishing my work on Huffington Post was a frightening prospect, JCamp gave me the confidence to take such a risk—ultimately, it was worth it.

JCamp’s influence didn’t stop here. A few months after the end of the program, JCamp instructor Neal Justin sent out a notice about the American Society of News Editors’ (ASNE) new Youth Journalism Initiative Advisory Board, to which I applied and joined soon after. The strength of the JCamp experience is evident by the fact that the board is entirely composed of JCamp alumni.

I wouldn’t have discovered the advisory board without the AAJA network, which, since JCamp, has integrated both my fellow JCampers and myself into its community.

Becoming involved with the AAJA has introduced me to a strong community of journalists—from professionals to students—all of whom are as passionate about the field as I am.

The greatest impact JCamp had, however, has been the knowledge that I am capable of pursuing anything, with an entire network of journalists supporting me. With this in mind, I decided to apply my JCamp skills to launch an online newspaper at my high school. Now I have a staff of 20 and ability to effectively lead my team. I often consult with my JCamp classmates, as we work together to become better editors and journalists. Some of my most valuable knowledge has emerged from this group of students.

Overall, JCamp was an incredible experience. It introduced me to the detailed skills needed for journalism: leadership, networking and seizing opportunities. As an aspiring journalist, I continue to be thankful to JCamp for its impact on my pursuits as a journalist.