The other day, I overheard a man saying that when he meets someone who has recently moved to Portland, he gives the newcomer “The 30 Second Challenge.” He tells them to stand on a corner, looking confused, for just half of a minute. He guarantees the person that within that time, at least one person walking past in this sympathetic Stumptown will offer to help with directions.
Fortunately, this man’s quaint experiment has proven true, because to be frank, I hate asking questions. After spending my life doing everything within my power to avoid them, you can imagine (and hopefully relate to) my utter panic in moving to a new city to start a new internship, without access to Siri nonetheless. What does the word new bring? It brings questions. Here’s how I’ve made them count during my first three weeks as an editorial intern in good old PDX:
1. I’ve realized there is such a thing as a stupid question.
My internship supervisor is busy, so before asking him how many spaces I should put in my snazzy new email signature, I decided to instead use the intern manual.
2. I’ve learned to write things down.
Why I accepted a work call in the hallway after locking my notebook and pen inside the office, I’ll never know. But having to call the person I was talking to in order to re-ask the questions I already presented was embarrassing. I’ve learned not to get so flustered with curiosity that I forget to soak in the results.
3. I’ve seen that people actually like answering questions.
After thanking the publication’s veteran intern approximately two thousand times for responding to my cluelessness, she kindly (firmly) told me to shut up. She said that when she was a new intern, the old pros guided her and she appreciated the chance to help someone else learn the ropes.
My new Rose City internship has taught me to do my research, to remember the answers I’ll need, and not to fear asking the past masters for some quick advice because they’ll probably be glad I did.