The Downside to Being a ‘self-starter’


Self starter: Informal. a person who begins work or undertakes a project on their own initiative, without needing to be told or encouraged to do so.

It’s a phrase you see a lot on resumes and letters of recommendations. It’s two words that say ‘motivated,  independent, and intelligent’.

This internship with Sol DesignCo has taught me a lot about myself.

1. I am everything I say I am. I am meticulous when it comes to mundane tasks like data entry and scrubbing. I know what I know, and I don’t exaggerate.  When I make a mistake, I own it.

2. I am a team player.  I am  Always asking if anyone needs help.  I try to understand the bigger picture and understand my role in it, even if it’s minor.

3. I show initiative.

4. I am a problem solver. I will figure out how to do something when I am stuck.

Because of all of these traits, I don’t  know when I should ask for help.

Being a self-starter sometimes prevents me from working smarter instead of harder. I get so focused on solving the problem on my own because I know everyone is busy accomplishing the mission. I also figure that an intelligent individual such as myself should  just simply figure it out.

I came to this slow realization when I was tasked to make some changes to an Adobe InDesign document. The directions provided to me were detailed, and I was told a couple of times to ask if I needed help or clarification.  The person who assigned me the task is approachable and pleasant. The operation tempo in the office was starting to picking up, and I knew people were busy.

I thought I would be doing the team a solid by figuring it out on my own. I completed the task and when I emailed the document (at 6:20 pm!) to be reviewed, it was the design director,  Scott who brought things into perspective.

The problem: I technically completed the task, but the layout was funky. My method of completion made edits time consuming. In short: I did the task the hard way.

Scott said ‘Look, Melissa, in the future if you have any questions just ask me. I know we were kind of busy today, but you can always come to me with a question. I have no problem helping you out or showing you something.’ We called it a day and he told me he would help me out the next time I come to work.

So here we are today. I slipped back into my comfort zone. Knocked out tasks that required little to no supervision. Everyone was busy. Scott was on the phone with clients, and I was going to to YouTube and Google my way out of the problem. Why? I didn’t want to be rude and interrupt Scott. I felt like he was doing important work so lessons in spacing in InDesign seemed like it could wait. Besides asking questions makes you look like you don’t know what you are doing.

Nope. Scott asks me about the task, and I sheepishly let him know I would still like his help with formatting as I frantically minimize my browser window that displayed my search results for ‘In Design CC spacing’.

His lesson was super helpful. I’m going to write a blog post about the stuff Scott showed me. It was like an in-person lesson, except better because I can ask questions.

The funny part about this whole revelation? Everyone is knowledgeable, approachable, and friendly. Why does it feel uncomfortable to ask for help?


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