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Welcome to the Working World

Welcome to the Working World

Three days into my internship, I’m still in the process of adjusting to a position in the “real world”.  Having never worked an office job before, I’ve had the chance to observe the differences between the daily flow of school and the workplace.  Though I’ve been able to draw parallels to my schoolyear schedule, the methods of learning, among other things, stand in contrast to settings of formal education.

One school similarity I did not expect was the amount of simultaneous projects.  When I’m taking 5 or 6 concurrent classes, I expect there to be a lot of overlap in due dates and priorities, but I had assumed that in a more formal work setting, one would receive an assignment, spend a few hours completing it, then move on to their next task.  However, even with just three days of observation, it’s easy to see that this is not the case.  Everyone constantly has a long to-do list, and like school, you have to choose what the clients or the boss needs are first, but if a meeting or coworker brings up another task, you have to be able to quickly switch to that and come back to the original assignment later in the day.  With 8 hours every day blocked off for work and no classes or events I need to run off to, I’ve found it much easier to come back to an assignment without getting sidetracked by distractions.

The style of learning, though, is markedly different than in the classroom.  At school, learning is accomplished by lectures and assigned readings and problem sets, with periodic exams to test progress.  At work, though, learning is a constant, fluid, integrated concept.  This is especially true concerning insurance, a topic which I haven’t had deep exposure to through my freshman year of college.  In order to understand what I and everyone else at Kuzneski Financial Group is doing, then, I have to spend a lot of time finding and reading background information, listening and trying to process information at meetings, and otherwise learning on the job.  I’ve been amazed at how much I’ve been able to pick up in my first week just by hearing people talk and trying to connect the dots with the scattered background knowledge I came in with.

In all, though, the working world has a distinct setup, one which all new workers must grow accustomed to.  Whether one is an intern or in charge of the entire organization, they will have a mix of projects, research, meetings, and day-to-day operational activities.  I’m sure that I will fully adjust to the office schedule within a few weeks, but until then, it’s very interesting to observe the differences between one’s preparation for a real position and the actual working world.

Paul Birch

Paul was a KIG intern during the summer of '16 where he earned himself the nickname "Pauly-B." In 2019, he graduated from Penn State University with a Bachelor's degree in Risk Management and Actuarial Science. He is now an actuarial analysis at Aetna, where they probably just call him "Paul."

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