Sunday, October 14, 2012

Lifelong Learning

Sometimes I wish that "student" could truly be a profession. I sometimes wish that I could be paid to go to school. Of course, what would be the purpose of that education then?

When I started High School, I wanted to be an author. I wanted to write children's books. Then I discovered journalism. By my junior year, I was writing for my school newspaper. When I graduated, I chose a school based on my desired major: journalism. I even received a journalism scholarship my first year there.

It had its ups and downs. I loved (and still do) writing. I started out as hard news and wrote a variety of articles including features, opinions and even sports on occasion. I interned at the Army News Service in Washington, D.C. at the end of my junior year. By that point, I was losing confidence in my own abilities. Is it just a thing that writers have where they hate their own work even when others say it is great? I definitely wasn't sure I wanted to follow through with journalism. But what choice did I have? I was almost through with college. If I switched my major then, I would be there for another year or two without scholarships to help me make it through.

I stuck with Journalism, knowing that the communication background could come in handy even in another field. More and more, I wanted to make a difference. I thought maybe I could do in depth stories with the homeless and try to bring light to their stories. But I didn't even know how to get started. My senior year of college, I found a way to make a difference.

My professor and newspaper adviser forwarded the class an email advertising a communications internship at an organization I had learned about a few years prior. It was an organization that, although I didn't know a lot about, I knew enough that I supported their mission. I even hoped I might be able to work there one day. Little did I know that two days after I graduated, I would begin a communications internship at Heifer International.

Before graduating I had also added a second major, Spanish. I had a few opportunities during the internship to speak Spanish with some of the international staff from Latin America. I never took any classes in video production or editing, but quickly learned some on the job and was able to help teach some other coworkers. I continued learning.

Later, I went to Spain for almost a year. Once again, that was an experience full of lessons and learning. Some lessons were a little tougher than others. Not only did I learn my Spanish was no where nearly as good as I thought it was, I learned a little more about Embassies and consulates after losing my passport on a trip to England. I also learned how big a difference just having someone to talk to can make in a person's life after spending countless hours alone in my apartment  Then there were the cultural lessons. Perhaps the most important lesson I learned was in perseverance  After three months, it was hard to leave for Christmas. And then in June it was hard to come home, knowing that I was leaving many new friends behind and didn't even have a job to go back to.

Less than a month after arriving home in the United States, I was offered a temporary position working in Human Resources at Heifer. I had no experience in that field. My task was working with company polices, reviewing and updating them. I learned. It has been a continuing learning experience all together as I researched what types of things should be policies, what policy manuals should contain etc. I have even helped with other tasks and have already learned a ton about Excel. What has surprised me the most is what I have learned about myself.

In tracking information, I have found that I actually enjoy some of the tedious work. I enjoy looking at the statistics, making charts and graphs. Even if I wasn't a math major and never had an interest in it. Applied to the real world it is interesting. I have been working in the Human Resources department for a little over three months now and am still learning. Of course, learning continues for a lifetime.

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