The Role of the Unfamiliar
How do you work through the feelings of doubt that may come when starting an internship or other unfamiliar roles?
It’s easy to doubt yourself and feel like you’re not good enough. Being in a corporate setting can sometimes put this pressure on you, these burdens on you, that you aren’t good enough and will not succeed. There is a stigma that surrounds the workplace that makes you feel like you have to be perfect and not make any mistakes. That can feel taxing on anyone, especially someone entering the workforce for the first time. I went into my internship in March, unsure of what to expect. My college years were spent reading, writing, and analyzing text. But out of what I learned, there were so many things I was still left unsure of. My English degree came from my heart; I gained so much wisdom and learned how to improve my skills. Yet I didn’t know what any of these skills would look like in a business setting. I was scared I wouldn’t be good enough. When March came along I hoped and prayed that I would do good, learn a lot and that my skills would show. Four months later, I’m writing this with a permanent position at the company I interned for. I’m not going to lie, this internship did come with different doubts and many different learning curves, but amid everything, I learned that I am capable. I found that as I was given unfamiliar tasks, I was able to learn from them and do them well. I realized I didn’t have to fit the mold of perfection; I just needed to do my best in the work that I produced, and be willing to learn, and that was more than enough.
At the start of my internship, I was thrown into an unfamiliar world. As I said before, I was scared and unsure of what to expect. All at once, I was told about work ethics, organization skills, and what it means to review your protocol. I began to feel so small compared to these ideas and skills that felt so big. There were times I felt like I didn’t have the knowledge or ability to handle different tasks that came my way. At one point I was given the assignment to do some telemarketing. Now, I’ve made many personal calls in my life, but professional calls felt scary, and I didn’t feel qualified or informative enough to make those calls. But I did it, I enjoyed it, and I learned to feel capable in even the most unfamiliar of tasks. I leaned into every task I had, I made mistakes, and I let myself learn from those mistakes. I’m human so I still make mistakes—I have days when I’m learning through those mistakes more than other days, but I’m learning and choosing to grow. So, as a recent intern, I hope to pass on some wisdom to anyone who may feel like the road ahead of them is too steep and too scary.
My first bit of advice is not to focus on your weaknesses. Understanding your downfalls is one thing, but hyper-focusing on them is another. When you use your failures as something you can grow, learn, and improve from then that’s what you’ll do. When all you see are your weaknesses and not any of your strengths then you’ll be stuck in the mindset that you aren’t good enough. Learn to be okay with your weaknesses, and use them as an opportunity for growth.
Go into each day to do your best. You may be given tasks that scare you, or you may even feel like your tasks are too small to matter; when you go to work and do your best in the smallest of tasks, you’re setting yourself up to excel in any task that comes your way. There is no task too small to try your best and put your all into. Let your excellence be consistent in everything you do.
Finally, hone your skills, and let them show through in the work that you do. We all differ in our strengths, and they are an asset to you. This is an opportunity to showcase those strengths, grow them, and learn how to use them in an unfamiliar setting. At first, learning how to use my writing skills in a business setting felt like an obstacle I couldn’t overcome. As I’ve pushed myself to continue to work through that uncertainty and craft the abilities I do have, I’ve seen new skills take shape before my eyes.
For any English majors out there, I understand how uncertain the road ahead of you may feel. I felt that uncertainty myself before my internship. The skills you have are valuable. You are not any less valuable because you didn’t pursue math, science, or whatever else. There are so many routes you can take to make those skills and all that you are learning into a career. So, I urge you to be proactive about the career goals you have and be an advocate for all that you have to offer. Take those first steps toward the goal you have in mind. Whether that looks like applying for an internship, seeking a mentor, or going through a career center, be proactive. I believe in you and all that you have to offer!
An internship is a learning opportunity. If you’re reading this and you’re feeling doubts and fear about a new job/current position, those feelings are valid. I hope to impart the wisdom that you are capable to do great things right where you are.
Contributor: Jessica Carrera, Associate Editor at TSE Worldwide Press, holds a B.A. in English with a concentration in writing from Biola University. She aspires to touch the lives of others through her words.