Intern Insights: Early Mistakes and How I Learned From Them

Posted by Jderk RR on Mar 14, 2017 12:00:00 AM

Cut the Cord

As I look back at a few of the mistakes I have made as an intern, there is one quote that always comes to mind. The quote is from Sir Richard Branson, who most of us know as the founder of Virgin Group. Sir Branson once said, “My attitude has always been, if you fall flat on your face, at least you’re moving forward. All you have to do is get back up and try again.” As an intern at ORR Corporation in Louisville, I have made plenty of errors and my face has been breaking my falls quite a bit. Fortunately, I work with a team that allows me to make mistakes and gives me guidance on how to correct them. Listed below are the three biggest blunders I have made, and what I’ve learned from each.


1. Not asking for help or clarification

When I'm experiencing a new situation, it's hard to not get a sense of feeling like the "new guy," or that I am not contributing to the team. I try hard to overcome the learning curve quickly so I can add value wherever possible. The issue with this is that it’s not always the best way to learn about new environments or job responsibilities. On top of this, I make far too many assumptions. I’m very quick to guess at what I think needs to be done and my hit/miss ratio is not always a positive number. This contributes to a larger problem: not asking for help or clarification. 

What I learned: Stop making assumptions, open communication is more effective. There is no shame in attempting, but at some point you will look silly if you don't learn from your past mishaps. Ask for help if you need it and don’t feel bad for doing so. You're allowed to feel good if and when you succeed.


2. Ruining a CAT-6 cable

CAT-6 Organization

This was a battle I feel bad about losing. I was given a task to label thirty cables that ranged in length from 10 feet to 50 feet. My supervisor wanted them numbered one to thirty, starting with the 10 foot cables. I jumped the gun and accidentally labeled the number "1" on the first 50 foot cable. You might think, “So what! Just print a new label!” We were using shrink labels, which cost about $50 a pop, and we had roughly enough for thirty cables. It was economically responsible to cut it instead of using a new label.

Initially, I was okay with this plan based on my past experience of building and repairing wires of all different types. However, this one had my number. I tried six different times to fix it, three times after Chris told me to give up. This 50’ cable turned into a 48’ cable, which at this point is basically a long jump rope.

What I learned: Slow down, set yourself up for success, and don’t get ahead of yourself.


3. Server room cleanup

My final error was one of time management. I thought organizing a server room would be a simple process, one that is easily completed within a half day's work. If you've ever been tasked with a similar project, you will know that this is no easy assignment. But as a beginner in the IT field, I told my wife to expect me home around 3pm .

Old Wire Setup

As you can see in the photo on the right, the old setup was cluttered and lacked organization. Our plan was to run the wiring neatly up to the top and around. First, we installed a brand-new core in the server room to handle all the terminals in the building. Then, on Saturday, we met early in the morning to move cables from the old core to the new core. The painstaking process moved slowly, yet efficiently.

When 3pm rolled around, we weren’t very close to being finished at all. Everything was running smoothly, but it was a long process to ensure all the connections were properly linked. I left around 6pm  while the rest of my team was still hard at work. Although the day was longer than I expected, it was fun to bond with everyone throughout the day and the final product will be worth all of the trouble.

What I learned: When you are presented with a project you have little to no experience in, don't hesitate to ask your coworkers for a preview of the potential commitment it will take to complete.


Thank you for stopping by and reading this week's edition of Intern Insights! Next week's blog post will be a run through of my hiring process at ORR Corporation. My goal is to answer some internship questions many students have and discuss what others in the area go through. Don't forget to subscribe to our Careers blog to receive an email notification when it's released!

Topics: Our Associates, Our Interns

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