Heading into the end of my second month, and the middle of my overall internship experience with Gensler, I have dealt with a variety of issues. With each problem, despite my inherent success or failure, I have learned how to tackle the problem at hand independently for my future reference.
Many challenges have arisen that were difficult but not entirely unmanageable. Regardless of how much I prepare or plan for the situation, I sometimes find myself at an impasse. In order to succeed I must learn to improvise, adapt, and ultimately overcome unforeseen issues that pop up.
Communication is Key
For me, my hardest challenge has been explaining information that I know to an individual I am helping, or explain information to another member of the team on what I need help with or what I am trying to do.
Communication is essential. Yet being able to fix or work-around the problem through coherent and brief explanations not involving IT jargon, so that the people who requested assistance understand the certain limitations of their device or restrictions that make requests sometimes impossible, is sometimes harder than the actual issue.
Yet being able to coherently explain problem without using not IT jargon is sometimes harder than the actual issue. and sometimes, understanding what someone is asking for is harder than I expected.
To most, it may not seem like a challenging problem. The situation will get resolved somehow. But it’s difficult to feel like you are so close to properly explaining it, yet so far from them understanding.
Meeting in the Middle
Successful communication is like meeting in the middle, so that we convey and understand each other. Sometimes this is difficult, especially when obstacles like a language barrier come into play.
My best parallel to this problem is when I went abroad to Italy. I spoke no Italian, and had to convey with my host-family information that they couldn’t readily understand because they also didn’t know any English. After some time, we found avenues of communication. But it took dedication, patience, and a willingness to compromise.
This experience taught me that breaking down cultural or work barriers will happen. But it takes time and understanding on both sides to reach a mutual comprehension of each other.
Learning to Speak Another Language
In regards to communicating with the rest of my team, it sometimes is the exact opposite. They know more than I do. So when I try to talk using my own limited vocabulary, it’s confusing for them to understand. I don’t have as much hand-on experience using specific professional jargon they normally throw around.
I found that when asking for help or trying to get a point across, setting up a game-plan on specific words to use and highlighting which parts of the issue I am having difficulty with help all of us to complete a task.
Communication is highlighted through most of the coursework in the Syracuse University iSchool. It is an expectation that every “iSchooler” complete a technical communications class to learn how to communicate in the workplace. A combination of this and IST courses, where students are put into a mock situation to get experience dealing with these types of problems makes it helpful when you are trying to work through them.
IST 352 – Information Analysis of Organizational Systems definitely prepares students for situations similar to this. My professor was known for throwing curveballs into the middle of our project or when the persona “Bill Customer” didn’t understand certain aspects of the Information Technology field.
Besides technical skills, this internship has also given me the opportunity to practice and work through many of the problems I face when working through soft skills. Understanding and patience are the best skills to practice.