Many people dread getting their first jobs. They don’t want to mess up, they don’t want to look bad, and they don’t want to be rejected. It’s hard to start something new, but being a beginner isn’t all bad.
You don’t want to have no experience, of course, but the key is to learn from mistakes without letting them bother you, and never to forget the value of all business skills. Beginners usually make more mistakes than more advanced workers, but are less tempted to take skills for granted and become lazy about them. Admittedly, this is easier said than done in the business world.
This is why internships are often helpful to beginners. You gain basic skills and experience for future jobs in a less competitive and stressful environment than a real job. This has been my experience.
I’m still new to the business world, but my internship at Career Path Writing Solutions has helped my infant business skills to mature.
My training actually began before the internship itself. Applying for it turned out to be trickier than it looked. It took several tries to find a time to call that was good both for Heidi and for me, and Thanksgiving break in a part of New England with no cellphone reception didn’t help.
It was easy to get discouraged, and wonder if the complications would cost me the internship opportunity. But I didn’t want lose it. The schedule coordination was frustrating, but it gave me a chance to show initiative and enthusiasm. More would-be employees have been rejected for having too little passion than for having too much.
When we finally got to talk, Heidi hired me, and we developed a loose work plan, including researching and using spreadsheets. Thanks to school, researching was second nature, but it had been a while since I’d used Excel spreadsheets, and my MacBook only had Numbers, the Apple equivalent.
But everything went right. Numbers is designed to be user-friendly, so making a spreadsheet schedule for Heidi and exporting it as an Excel file was no problem.
Excel and Numbers are essentially the same, and the basics I remembered from the first program carried over to the second. And it might have been good that I only remembered the basics, which meant I didn’t have to “un-learn” any advanced functions that were different. “Un-learning” a familiar but useless skill is often harder than learning a useful skill for the first time.
Writing these blog posts was educational too. They’re simpler and quicker to write than essays, but it’s a new format to me. I need to remember my own rules and that it’s OK to be informal and important to be enticing in an intelligent but not academic style.
With this internship, I’ve been able to help Heidi and gain my own skills in the process. I learned from my mistakes, and I’m trying to value all the skills I’ve learned or practiced here.
This is a four-part series written by Penelope Laird, a college intern majoring in Liberal Arts. These are her reflections on the experience she gained between her fall and spring semesters while working for me. -Heidi Scott Giusto, Ph.D.