Navigating the Ambiguous

Hallo everyone! Since my last post, I have experienced more of the fun things that Berlin has to offer. On Wednesday, we went to a comedy show in English called “Saying the Wrong Thing”. It was a fun opportunity to see just how many students from English-speaking countries such as England, Canada, and America are in Berlin. This comedy hour is just one of many things that show how common English is in Berlin, so it is very easy to get around the city as an American. We then got Döner kebab, which is a very common Turkish dish that is on every corner in Berlin. On Thursday, we all went back to the street food market, which is a good opportunity to see different cultures come together in the city. Friday was an especially fun experience, because we went to a disco roller-skating event, and they even ended up playing a lot of American music near the end. It is cool to identify specific things from American culture that are popular in Berlin, and how many of the German people are familiar with American culture.

We spent Saturday evening at an art gallery, which featured the work of 25 artists and ended with the announcement of winners. I have always been interested in art, but never really involved, so this was a fun opportunity to experience the international art scene. There were works from all around the world, so it was cool to see the differences in art styles. We finally experienced a hot day in Berlin on Sunday, so we made the decision to take a beach day trip. Lake Wannsee has one of the most popular beaches close to the city, so there was a large crowd of Germans and tourists. It was a relaxing day to conclude the first 3 weeks of the program, even if I did get a bit sunburnt. Today was a holiday, so I fortunately got to rest and recuperate before going back to work tomorrow.

At work, Dylan and I have been working on many different projects for our boss: mostly marketing, competitor, and funding research. We are usually assigned a project and then it is up to us how we decide to divide the work. One problem that has arisen in the internship is ambiguity with our assignments and tasks. For our very first project, we spent multiple hours stuck on a problem, unable to solve it and complete the project. When we finally talked to our boss about it, we found out that we had been trying to solve the wrong problem. I am still unsure how we both managed to misunderstand, but that incident made me realize how important it is to ensure that I understand, or else I will waste time on something that might not be necessary.

My boss will usually give us verbal instructions instead of written instructions, so it is easy to miss details and need clarification later. The first strategy that I have been using to combat confusion is taking note of the details of each task she assigns to us. This way, I will not forget an important section of the project and have to go back and redo it. This is extra beneficial for multi-day assignments, where I have to stop my work then pick it back up the next day. I tend to forget things easily, so it is good to have an ongoing log of where I am on a project and what the next step needs to be. Another method that I use before starting an assignment is talking to Dylan about the project. Having someone else at the same company as me is a huge benefit, especially when it means we can talk through the necessary process for a project and make sure we both fully understand what needs to be done.

The most obvious solution to solving uncertainty in my internship is asking my boss, but it is easy to feel like a nuisance for asking questions. I know that my boss is very busy, so I have to remind myself that she would rather answer a question and receive the correct result earlier than have to tell me to restart the project after I send it to her. For me, I know that clarification questions can feel embarrassing to ask, but I am learning through this internship that it would feel even more embarrassing to turn in a project completely wrong or missing steps, leading to me redoing the whole project.

I am about to start the third week of my internship, where I can hopefully navigate any ambiguous directions I receive in order to produce quality work. I will check back in again next week, where I will update you on another week in Berlin!

Guten Nacht!

Caitlin Jarrell