A colleague of mine and I were having a conversation this morning about some of the challenges we’ve seen with a new generation of young people entering the workforce. It got me thinking about two pieces of advise that I would give anyone who wanted to volunteer, intern or work with our organization.

1) Ask questions when you don’t know the answer.

People have always been afraid of looking “dumb”. In the information age, it’s easy to think every answer can be found on Google. It’s simply not true…especially when others are counting on you and it’s about something you’ve committed to do.

I have tremendous respect for someone who says “I don’t know.” (In many cases you’ll be the only honest person in the room.) Everybody has to learn something the first time and you not fooling anyone if you come across that you know it all and don’t need any help.

“The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man listens to advice.” Proverbs 12:15

You need a organizational “Sherpa”, a counselor….someone that can guide and direct you. Hopefully it’s your boss or supervisor. If not, intentionally seek out a more experienced coworker. Better to ask for help early, then try to fix a mess later. As the saying goes, “an ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure.”

2) Write down the answer when you get it.

It’s OK to not know the answer the first time. But still goofing something up after you’ve been shown multiple times is a no no.

It is sign of respect when you pay attention, take notes and ask clarifying questions. 

TIP: Don’t try to take notes on your phone. It looks like you are texting. Always have a pen and paper handy.

Commit to mastering your craft. Put in the time and the hours. Don’t be the last to arrive and the first to leave. Read the manual. Go to the conference. Take the extra training.

Rarely are things cookie cutter. Ask for feedback and input down the road. There will be things you missed the first time around and you’ll learn the subtle nuances that a true professional will be able to identity.

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