It has been approximately a month and a half since being hired and last week, I spoke about how the key to success is questions and embracing the experience of having a learning curve with any company that you are just starting to work for. This past week I learned the importance of self-motivation and being able to navigate through your own struggles.
From kindergarten to 12th grade, students are monitored and spoon-fed instruction – questions to ask, steps to take, due dates and so-on. What you will quickly learn in the “real-world” is that working independently to complete your task is a primary job function.
When given a project or task, you are often challenged to tackle it with only basic direction forcing you to navigate your way around barriers. Companies want to see how well you can answer your own questions; and most of the time, that is done by pressing through a challenge independently to find the right path to an answer.
Stop, breath and think critically about how to solve the problem and attempt it! What are the steps to solve this problem? What tools might I need? Who else might be a good resource for me to engage with?
With that being said, you also need to know when to speak up. If you have tried multiple routes and still have not found the right path to solve the problem then that’s the time to speak up and ask someone. While you are encouraged to try to navigate around and solve your own problems, companies also don’t want you to waste time. Being self-aware and finding that happy medium of knowing when to ask questions and when to step back and try it for yourself is more impressive than coming up with a solution days past what it should have taken.
Another part of being self-motivated is that when you have completed a task don’t just sit and wait for another be proactive, go find work elsewhere. Asking colleagues if there is anything that you can do to help with their workload goes a long way and can also open opportunities for you because of it.
By challenging yourself and pushing through these hurdles, you will quickly learn what you’re good at, and what you’re not good at. This will help, while it may not feel like it at the time, to really work on those skills to be a better employee overall, whether it’s an internship or your permanent full-time job.