When I was offered my first job as a DJ, I was incredibly nervous. I had done my senior project on education and how I thought the system should be reformed; it prompted one of my mentors to ask me to host a show about ed reform. I was really new into media and doubted my ability to adapt and evolve to this situation. The first show was fantastic, we had so many students come from around the country to discuss their experiences in education, how it shaped their lives, and what the US should be doing to fix the current school system.
My next show was about gun violence and gun reform. In the wake of the Parkland shooting, we wanted to bring student voice to light again. We had a lot of contrasting views in the studio, but regardless of the difference in opinion, everyone agreed that the Stoneman Douglass students represented a new wave of respect for young people who were willing to voice their views. This recognition that I had experienced with my first radio show began to feed my confidence. I had quickly gotten the logistics of the studio down, now it was time to look at how capable I was.
I did my third show today. It was more of a marketing/specialty show, but it still meant a lot to me. I am currently working with Dr. Yonty Freisem to promote his Media Production Hive curriculum which focuses on media education, literacy, and empathy. Our show was really just an advertisement and informational piece on this effort, but we had a great discussion about what it meant to be conscious on social media and the importance of teaching students to be digital citizens. This was the show where I finally felt like I knew what I was doing.
So that was it, three shows in and I felt like a real DJ. I would be lying if I said my broadcasts were consistent, but the quality of them is. At the beginning of the show, I talked a little about how important it was for me to be given an opportunity to act professional and operate in a professional setting. My mentor was so kind and told me how he wished everyone involved in the program (True Kids 1) would be able to excel as much as I did. As much as I appreciate his comments, I can't say that the quality of excellence I was able to achieve is unique to me.
What made the difference then? The chance to be a professional in a setting I was interested in. Doing a radio show sounded exciting and new, so I naturally wanted to appear prepared and poised. By just giving me the opportunity, my mentor had already given me a reason to reach for that level of quality. I wanted to prove that nothing stood in my way of doing the best job possible. I wasn't going to allow my age or my education dictate what kind of professional environment I did well in. I was going to let my passion, my drive, and my happiness tell me where I should place my efforts.
From what I've seen, a lot of students don't feel as though they deserve an opportunity like I was given. Public education has a funny way of crushing a young person's self-esteem and making them disassociate from the "adult" world. However, when given the opportunity to integrate themselves into this world of skill and experience, they are so grateful to just be included that they will strive to be their best.
How to be a DJ: put yourself out there. Communicate effectively, don't be afraid to express your ideas, learn how to involve yourself in discussions, see criticism as a way to grow. Being a DJ is a really cool job, one that I am glad to say I have experienced, and it is not out of reach for anyone. How to be a DJ is the same thing as how to have a job you enjoy. Every student, every person who is willing to show how hard they can work is deserving of an opportunity to act on that will.
Just because you're deserving of an opportunity doesn't mean it will come along by chance. Being young is difficult, people will automatically assume you are less capable, but that just means they will be even more pleasantly surprised when you prove your worth. Get yourself that opportunity, network, make friends, ask for a chance, do your research, work harder than you did yesterday, and show them your value. We can make excuses about things we cannot control, but achieving excellence is not about focusing on the obstacles, it's about looking for the solutions.