Undergraduate Blog / Career Development

Ask the Right Questions

Any intern would agree that asking questions comes with the territory. You’re new and there is a lot to learn. In theory asking questions seems pretty simple. What is this? How do you do that? And why? It is natural for people to ask questions, but that is not the end of it. The tricky part is getting a suitable answers that helps, not only give you the information or advice you seek, but also takes it a step further so that you completely understand every facet that goes along with it. An example from my internship with Evol8tion involves learning about iBeacons:

“Apple’s version of the Bluetooth-based beacon concept, which allows Bluetooth devices to broadcast or receive tiny and static pieces of data within short distances.”

Before I started at Evol8tion I had not heard of iBeacons. But during my first week I was given a project that partially focused on the technology. After going over the basic definition of what an iBeacon was with my boss, I was lost. I just didn’t get what an iBeacon was. So the next question I asked was “how does an iBeacon work?” And I remember getting an answer pretty similar to this article (over several conversations,) it was very dry, technical and it did not help me understand the technology. At this point I knew I needed to look at it from a different perspective.

So I broadened my search. Instead of talking to my boss about iBeacons and the basic technologies that power it, I dug into the many of the companies working with the technology. This helped me understand the technology immensely. Understanding what companies were using the iBeacons for not only helped me finally understand what an iBeacon actually does, but also connected the dots as to the science behind how the technology works and the potential uses for iBeacons.

ibeacon mlb

  • Macy’s uses iBeacons to give location-based coupons to shoppers inside of their stores.
  • Starwood Hotels & Resorts are testing iBeacons that can be used for keyless entry into hotel rooms.
  • Nivea uses iBeacons to help parents keep track of their kids.
  • Major League Baseball uses iBeacons to help patrons find their seats and get deals on team merchandise.

And these are only the most widely known uses for the technology, there are countless other uses! The point I am trying to make is that asking questions is essential to learning, but that’s only half the battle. Asking the right questions and relentlessly seeking the answers you need is just as important. As interns, it is our job to learn and nothing should get in the way of that. It may be intimidating to continually approach your superiors until you finally receive the information you need. Working without the proper information is far worse than annoying a superior.

The right questions lead to understanding. Understanding leads to answers. Answers lead to success. If you don’t understand something you have not asked the right questions. And without the right questions you won’t find the answer you seek.