During my work placement with Luath Press, I was eager to get to see what publishing is like in practice. I knew, of course, that working in a professional environment would be challenging, but doing it remotely would be even more difficult.
When you are online, you have to rely on your voice a lot. You have to show you are interested simply by sounding enthusiastic and maybe with an occasional nod or smile. I worry a lot about not being able to read someone’s body language when everything takes place online.
I am often shy to ask questions in the fear of seeming stupid. But during my placement I forced myself to ask for help and advice – whether it was from my peers or the staff at Luath. I had to remind myself that it is better to ask questions and perhaps seem stupid, than to not ask questions and do the given duties wrong. Despite Luath being a professional working environment, I was still there to learn and to grow; to me it was still practice and a perfect time to ask questions. An online environment, however, makes this even more challenging; what if I talk over someone? What if my microphone is not working? What if my Wi-Fi connection is bad and I keep cutting off?
What I learned during my nine-day stay with Luath was that we were not expected to know everything. One member of the team, a recent Napier graduate, was extremely helpful and understood where we were coming from. She encouraged us to ask questions and reminded us that she has been in our position. This was an important reminder to me that it is okay to be insecure and ask a lot of questions at this stage. I was also reminded of the words from one of my doctors in my first year at university: ‘I’m not looking for geniuses, I’m looking for people who are willing to try.’ I tried to keep this in mind.
I am still green. I still have time to make mistakes and learn from them. So when I did get enough courage to enquire about something of which I was unsure, I was surprised to discover that my question was not as silly as I thought it would be – I had merely assumed everyone else around me was a genius and that I was the only one who had no clue.
What I often find myself doing is starting my question with ‘This might be a stupid question, but…’ I already doubt myself before I have even said what I have to say. I want to make people around me aware of the fact that I acknowledge that my ideas, suggestions, and enquiries might be obvious. It was a relief to realise that when I did open my mouth, the things I said did not get the reception I was scared of; no one found my questions dumb. I tried to tell myself the following: ‘They will appreciate it if you are pro-active. Ask questions. Learn.’