Questions? Ask Them!
No one expects the intern to know everything. Full-time employees don’t know everything. The bosses don’t even know everything! In an internship, things are new and confusing. The best way to make progress within a job is to think critically and ask the right questions.
In my first few weeks, I have had to learn that asking when unsure is the best resource. It may be scary going to a superior and asking a question, but it is better than going into a meeting or project unprepared. The best way to keep informed is to formulate the question, do your own research, ask colleagues, and finally ask the head honcho for help.
- Formulate the question
It’s easy to be confused by a project or need help with a task. There’s nothing wrong with that! But before saying “Can you help me?” or “I just don’t get it,” make sure there’s a solid and thoughtful question behind it. Simply asking for help is not typically informative enough. If someone doesn’t know how to exactly fix the problem, there could be wasted time, misunderstanding, and broken communication on the project.
- Research, research, research!
I knew a professor who would limit the number of questions each person could ask in a class period. Ridiculous right? I don’t believe that questions should be tallied and cut off after so many. While this isn’t a great way to teach students, it made me think about the questions I had and make sure the answer wasn’t staring me in the face on the next page. Using my resources (other than vocalizing the question) forced me to learn how to ask better quality questions and ensure the ones I asked were worth asking. How does this correlate to the work world? Having these resources available to an employee should prompt them to look up the question before asking. Checking before asking could save time and help the employee with their research skills.
- Ask a colleague
Being an intern means there are typically many levels between you and the top level of the organizational chart. Luckily at Kuzneski, that gap is much smaller and I am able to have individual meetings with the big bosses. But that doesn’t mean I run up to their offices every time a question goes through my head. The first step is asking my fellow intern if he is aware of the answer. If not, asking one of the full-time employees or direct supervisor is the next best step. Usually someone will have the answer or at least know where to find it. If still no resolution, then it’s time to walk the question upstairs or send it via email.
- Ask the boss
I won’t lie – it is nerve-wracking to present a question to someone to much higher on the totem pole. IT may seem like a dumb question or that it’s wasting their time. But by following these steps, a fish as small as an intern can be confident in asking the question. The boss will most likely be impressed that so much was done prior to asking them. This is also better than presenting a project and stumbling over something that wasn’t well researched and questioned.
Being more informed is always going to be better than not informed at all. To sum it up, ask the questions that need to be asked and don’t be afraid to keep seeking help until the question is resolved. No one will ever know everything, but researching pressing questions can only help in accumulating knowledge!