We're Doing Things That Have Never Been Done
As I sat through my Boeing orientation this week, I couldn’t have felt more ready to get to my actual worksite and get started with my actual work. Scattered around a half-full classroom sat engineering interns, environmental and health interns, and a few full-time hires. Coffee and bagels were made available. I tried to converse, though most seemed uninterested. (Imagine yourself in a situation where you’re asking people questions, they respond with one word answers, and silence ensues. Multiply that by 10.) The guy leading the orientation started the day with a rousing comment about how excited he was about not having to be at his desk that morning and how he gets free lunch today for doing this.
Orientation droned on with a couple of speakers and video after video of 747’s being built with a new theme or poignant teaching moment in each. Boeing cares about safety! Boeing cares about diversity! Boeing cares about you not giving away classified information to the Chinese! Man, is this my future life as an HR guy?
As the day went on, though, and the guy leading the orientation continued to speak and began to share personal experiences, I started to gain respect for him. He’s a lead engineer, about my age, who is super passionate about the company and what it does. “We’re doing a lot of things that have never been done before. There’s no roadmap, no rules. You just have to make it up as you go.”
Apparently he had forgotten about the whole Don’t give away information to the Chinese rule, but I let it slide because, hey, people deserve a break every now and then.
That statement hit me like a ton of bricks, or a ton of something else super heavy but not so unpleasant as bricks. We’re doing a lot of things that have never been done before. It made me think about my own life experiences and journey. Every time I’ve been presented with a new, exciting opportunity, the initial excitement has been quickly followed by a lot of uneasiness and trepidation. Take a couple of examples:
Yes! I got cast in the lead role of a play!
*30 seconds later*
Holy %$(*@, I actually have to do this. *Collapses on ground.*
Yes! I got engaged!
*30 seconds later*
Oh man, I should probably tell my parents about this girl! *Begins texting mom*
Moving to Hungary was the same way. The decision to do it was so exciting, and almost immediately all the fears and questions take over, questions like What could go wrong? and Will we have enough money? and What’s that? Russia is taking over countries that border Hungary?
Having secured this internship last October, the build-up has been quite long. Though I had space to temporarily push the internship aside mentally in favor of finishing school, a month with no classes or work has allowed that same fear, questioning, and uneasiness to creep back in. It’s that space where nothing is familiar: you move into a new apartment, in a new neighborhood, in a new city, where you know virtually nobody. That space is called vulnerability. I’m ready to get started already, to have a place to go each day where I see familiar faces and I know answers to questions I’ve been asking, questions like are you going to pay me, and if so, when?
We’re doing something nobody has ever done before. Whether or not I’ll end up simply learning a lot and being a fly on the wall in meetings or re-writing the Boeing HR manual, that is what I hold on to. I get to work for a company that, like me, has a bit of experience moving forward in the face of uncertainty. I get to work for a company that knows how to embrace the tension of excitement and anxiety that comes with doing something completely new. And I could not be more excited. Let’s go.