ELP Testimonial: On a life-changing program that gives you what you put into it

A newsroom developer on the clarity and community that comes from ELP

AAJA National
AAJA Defined

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By Andrew Nguyen, Newsroom Developer, Boston Globe (2019 ELP grad)

For over 20 years, AAJA’s Executive Leadership Program has been dedicated to developing the next generation of journalists who can lead in uncertain times and build a sustainable future for journalism. As the deadline approaches to be a part of the 2022 ELP cohort, we wanted to share thoughts from Andrew Nguyen, Newsroom Developer at the Boston Globe, who was part of the 2019 ELP class.

I almost didn’t apply.

I was on the fence until a former graduate of the program convinced me to take a chance on myself. In fact, participating in the executive leadership program was my very first experience with AAJA.

Admittedly, having the opportunity to step away from the demands of a daily newsroom is a luxury, but being able to spend the time to reflect about my career is what made the program one of the most transformative experiences I’ve had to date.

At the start of the program, we were all reminded that “what you get out of the program is what you put in.”

In many ways, the program gives you the space to be present and to bring your whole self. Being able to learn from each other’s experiences and have honest conversations with a room full of other journalists of color was incredibly valuable — but most importantly, I felt like I belonged.

The program manages to squeeze in a lot over the course of the week from learning about negotiation and introspective leadership to discussing case studies and one-on-one time with a mentor, while still managing to keep things fun with a trip to Good Morning America and the New York Times.

By the end of my time in New York, I would have never expected that being asked to reflect on our values would be such a deeply emotional experience for everyone involved, myself included.

Being able to learn from each other’s experiences and have honest conversations with a room full of other journalists of color was incredibly valuable — but most importantly, I felt like I belonged.

Months later, many of us in the cohort reunited in Atlanta at the AAJA conference. Behind the scenes, our group continues to support each other and celebrate moments big and small on WhatsApp.

But what I found most comforting after taking part in the program was knowing that there were others cheering me on. I returned to St. Louis re-energized, better equipped to be a better advocate for myself in the newsroom and with some more clarity about the next steps in my career.

If you are thinking about applying, know that the future of journalism needs people like you, it needs people like me and it needs people like us.

Apply to the AAJA Executive Leadership Program by Friday, March 25.

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Andrew Nguyen is a Newsroom Developer at the Boston Globe. Find him on Twitter.

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AAJA National
AAJA Defined

Empowering Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in journalism, encouraging news diversity.