Sharon C. Taylor
"I can remember my first job with a company more than 20 years ago. The senior vice president of the organization gave me a project to do. I was so proud. I thought I understood what he had asked me to do. I was too embarrassed to go back and ask him when I wasn't sure which way he wanted it. When it came back with a big mark on it, I sat at my desk terrified and waiting for him to fire me. I went into his office almost a week later in tears and stood there babbling. He said, 'I was wondering how long it was going to take for you to come in and ask me for feedback. I was going to give you one more day before I came out and told you if you don't understand something you should ask questions. I don't expect you to know everything.' I remember that story when I mentor young people coming into the company. The skills we hope they have come down to the basics. Be on time. Folks often think that strolling in late or not calling is OK. It's not. Be observant. Kids, because they're exposed to so much, come in thinking they know more than they really do. When they don't know something they either panic, or they don't have the patience enough to just be conscious of their environment. Another thing I would say is to be resourceful. In the busy work world, you have to ask questions and know what you don't know. Feel comfortable reaching out for information, and then be able to apply that information. Finish what you start. So often, if it's not the sexiest project in the world, or you're not necessarily clicking with the person, there's a tendency to slack off. And finally, you learn from your mistakes, and you learn by people pointing out to you the opportunity areas. You need to accept constructive feedback with grace, and then correct your course."