With the start of week 8 of my internship, things were starting to mostly fall into a normal routine. Just when I thought I was getting into the groove of my work schedule, my Tuesday morning commute surprised me with a flat tire. This lead to lots of staring at the spare I didn’t even know lived underneath the floorboards of my trunk, phone calls to my parents, and ultimately leaving my car to go to work. Luckily, when I told my boss about my car I abandoned in a random parking lot near my house she instantly texted one of our colleagues and he stepped in to help me replace my flat tire during lunch.
When my supervisor first offered to find some colleagues in the building to help me change my tire, at first my answer was, “Oh I don’t need to bother anyone else I can figure it out on my own!” Yet, after thinking about how I would manage handling this task, I did take her up on her offer and she found someone to help me. (Thank you to Binh for the lesson in changing tires and thank you to Rachel for the ride home!)
Dealing with a flat tire is a fairly common–and annoying–experience for many, but this moment helped me realize one facet of my own personal and professional growth this summer: learning to ask for help. I often enjoy working independently on projects and want to prove to my peers that I am capable of producing excellent results on my own. I want to seem as if I have all of the answers to tackle problems myself, but that is almost never the case. Oftentimes, this mindset leads to me feeling unable to ask others for help. This summer, I’ve grown tremendously in this area and was reminded of my growth thanks to my flat tire.
Outside of dealing with car trouble, I’ve learned to both ask for help and accept help within my professional life, too. Many of my projects this summer can lead to a lot of independent work, but I still encounter moments where I need help–from generating a list of interviewees for the oral history to asking for advice when tutoring students in summer school. I’m so lucky my supervisor and colleagues check in with me and allow me to feel comfortable asking for help when I most need it. This has helped me feel much more productive this summer and I can truly reflect on how I am growing thanks to this fellowship. Everyone finds themselves needing help navigating challenges in their professional and personal lives, and I’m glad I’m learning to embrace this!