When this summer began I told myself that I would always pursue opportunities even if it caused me to have to operate outside of my comfort zone. Not knowing all of the process and procedures that come with the role I hold here at REI, I at times find myself walking a thin line. See, I have been given a project that has allowed me to work with some level of ambiguity, and with that ambiguity comes the unknown. What do I need to ask permission to do and if I am always seeking permission, does that make me look like I can’t think for myself? Both great questions that I have been pondering since my arrival to the Co-Op.
Thus far I’ve taken the approach that I need to ensure I am ambitiously pursuing information and the tasks that I am given. Have I over stepped my boundaries at times, yes. If I didn’t I wouldn’t even know what they looked like. Most decisions about whether or not I need to ask the question comes down to common sense. My advice to anyone would be ask yourself, if you were the leader in the situation would you want to be asked the question? I have taken this mentality to heart and it has allowed me to operate, for the most part, with ambiguity, yet has allowed me to stay within the roles boundaries effectively.
Throughout my life I have always lived by the opinion that you should always be proactive and eager to pursue knowledge and opportunity. This is very different from recklessly pursing tasks in a manner that looks irresponsible and thoughtless. Even if your heart is in the right place, the decision making process needs to be thought out and calculated. This lesson has resonated with me all summer. I have a posted note stuck to my computer that says one word “why”. Why are you asking this question or that one? Why are you pulling the data this way or that? These are questions I would recommend you put into your daily routine as you move into a career or internship. I didn’t always look at process this way and I have noticed a huge difference in both my effectiveness in role and the efficiency at which I am able to complete tasks.
As my internship rounds the corner into the home stretch the road I am traveling on is beginning to smooth out. If you find yourself struggling to adapt or assimilate to a new role or career don’t be afraid to ask yourself the question “why”.
I am an eight year veteran of the United States Army. I served my country as a Forward Observer during two tours – in Iraq and Afghanistan. I am a senior at the University of Arizona and will be graduating December 2016 with a B.S. in Retailing and Consumer Sciences. This summer I’m working as a Merchandising/Buying intern at REI’s corporate headquarters in Kent, WA.