Undergraduate Blog / Career Development

Coming Out of the Back Office

For the past two months of my internship, I have been working in cubicles in different offices every day. As an introverted person with English as my second language, I usually shy away from talking to people – and it’s part of the reason why although I choose to intern in three different programs in JVS, none of the three positions involves a lot of communication with clients. However, I unexpectedly got a special project at the registration table of a job fair at JVS yesterday. My responsibilities include identifying preregistered and unregistered job seekers, making sure that they fill out different forms, and providing them with name tags and job fair maps. As my first time out of the back office, I was quite nervous, but this experience proved to be very meaningful to me.

My biggest fear during this task is finding names on the pre-registration name list. After I kindly ask for the last names of the job seekers, I need to spend a long time to find their names on the list. For most of the time, after the last name search, I still need to ask for their first names and look them up again in the list. Sometimes the job seekers even spotted their names before I did, because I misheard their names and looked them up in the wrong place; sometimes it just turned out that they didn’t register. When I think about it afterward, this job doesn’t seem to be hard at all, but when I did it in the first 30 minutes, I was so anxious. I thought I must have done a very bad job at the registration table.

Things got better as the job fair proceeded to an end. Many job seekers exited from the fair and thanked me for the instructions and assistance I provided. Only then did I remember that besides panicking about names, I also did many other things such as helping them to fill out the different forms and showing them how to use the job fair map. I must have been overwhelmed by my own fear that I forgot these little kind things that I just did a while ago. Now I found that my fear was more problematic than the language itself; the fear made me unreasonably uneasy and prevented me from having an accurate understanding of my strengths. Maybe I was not that bad at communicating with others, and maybe it’s not far between fear and confidence.

When I come out from the back office, I see a new environment and a new self.