The Fear of Getting Settled

This past week at the McConnell Arts Center has really been the first chance I’ve gotten to settle in. Between my first week of Camp Creativity and my second week of prepping for the Arts Festival, it was nearly impossible to get a feel for what a “normal” day looks like at the MAC. With this in mind, I wanted to talk a little bit about how scary it can be to settle in to a new environment, especially a new work environment. 

For my generation, the job market is hyper-competitive, and so is the internship circuit. Students nowadays feel pressured to know everything they can about a company and to be a master of any and all skills that may be required in any given position. So once we get a job, it can be scary to ask for help. We’re afraid to ask for what we don’t already know because we have this idea in our heads that not knowing is a sign of weakness.

What I learned this week, though, is that the reality is far different from that. I sat down with both my supervisor and the executive director and went over all kinds of logistical things about my job, like which laptop I would use, where I should keep my lunch, how the phones work, and how to use the timecard system. They both emphasized the fact that I could always, always, come to them with any questions I might have. Meeting with both of them about these things made me feel so much more comfortable with my position, and once it was settled I was able to fire out a ton of tasks that needed to be done.  

I also became much more familiar with Microsoft Excel. Before this internship, I was marginally familiar with the program, but treated it as one would treat a raccoon that wandered into their yard: with extreme caution and probably having someone else deal with it. Having a long list of spreadsheets to create, update, and combine was terrifying. It felt like a dozen wild, green Microsoft raccoons had come to gather around my desk and wait for me to call Animal Control. However, just working with the program boosted my confidence so much. Digging in and troubleshooting with Google made my tasks a lot easier (and it doesn’t hurt that my desk neighbor is an Excel whiz).   

My biggest takeaway from this week is something I want to shout from the rooftops of every college campus in the country: You don’t have to know everything! Settling in to any new environment requires asking a lot of questions, even if they may feel silly, and your desk neighbor is probably more likely than you think to help you out. In the end, you need to feel comfortable in order to be successful, and your bosses and coworkers will understand that, especially in the nonprofit world.  

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