Workplace Learning: What Do I Want?

What is the purpose of learning?

Honestly, I don’t know the answer or know anyone who knows the answer. I may never know the answer. But coming to California, forced me to begin understanding the question and exploring the purpose of learning.

Laura and I have both been in LA for the summer, but make no mistake–our experiences are very, very different. The easiest way to point this out is the fact that Laura is having an easier time with her internship…at least from the outside looking in. And because I came out here for my internship, that’s a pretty big deal. Work is really hard. Like, really hard. No one could have prepared me or given me enough advice about having a 9-5 (ahem, 9-6:30) desk job or how I could survive said job without knowing a paycheck was waiting for me every two weeks. My internship has been totally crazy in the office and it is also the reason I appreciate and value learning now.

Suffice it to say my internship isn’t working out for me. California, yes. Internship, no.

However, thanks to my internship I was able to meet two people who really helped me out when I was alone here and more naïve than I am now. Carson is 23 and was working an entry-level position when I started. He’s the kind of person who is outgoing and can catch on to anything pretty easily. I am lucky because he totally took me under his wing when I got here. Carson had my back any time anything seemed to be going downhill—even if it was just a small hill. There were a few times when he even stood up for me to our boss. So that was for sure rad.

Since I started he has moved on to another job where I’m sure he is successful as all get out, because that’s just the kind of guy he is. The one lesson Carson wanted me to learn, though, was that when I know I’m right, I need to stick up for myself. This lesson has kind of gone by the wayside because there hasn’t been much for me to be right about, but after seeing so many things happen in this office I know that it has to be done. Just because she’s my boss doesn’t mean I can’t stand up for myself at all.

However, recently I stood up for myself in a new way. I haven’t learned many new things since my second or third week on the job, and lately the hours ahve been taking a toll on me; when I’m at work and don’t have the opportunity to be productive it’s annoying. I also haven’t been given much to work with in regards to something I can take out of this besides what I already have. So yesterday I discussed new hours with my boss. It was really hard because she was trying very hard to push me down, saying things like, Oh and you want to work in PR? She even tried to entice me to stay by giving me a client to work on. This was totally double edged. She knew what she was offering and did it on purpose. I’m not getting paid and I’ve more than worked the required hours for my internship class, so call me what you want but I’m here to chill and lay low now. So I told my boss the following words and walked out of her office: I’m not on payroll, so I’m not taking a client. I can agree to leave at 3.

The second person who has literally been my guru and taught me pretty much every professional thing I’ve learned in California, is named Jamie. She has been in the industry for about six years and totally knows what she’s doing. She also took me under her wing and has somehow guided me through the weirdest and least desirable workplace ever. She has also helped me to see and understand that when things get rough it’s important to stick up for yourself. For example, she was less than satisfied with how things were going earlier this summer so she said something to our boss. They had an argument that involved crying the next room over from me (TOTALLY awkward) and she ran out of the office and cried for three hours. But since then have things improved? Mostly yes, but it’s an office so nothing is ever 100%.

Most of all I am thankful to Jamie because she has taught me a lot of specific things about the industry. What happens at other companies, what procedures are, how to evaluate what I want as an employee, and to keep in mind that when I’m a happy employee I’m a better employee.

So that’s what I’ve learned this summer. I’ve spent about two hours total stuffing envelopes and the rest of the time I’ve been doing work and thinking about everything happening around me. I’m learning through observation and a little bit of trial and error how to make myself happy professionally.

To hell with everything else, I want to be a happy employee. That’s what I’m learning.




One comment

  1. Having to move and work somewhere new is definitely very difficult and I hope that it gets better. Being a happy employee does mean that you are a better employee and just happier overall!

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