No Clue What I'm Doing

Posted on Tuesday, Apr 17, 2018

Walking into the Herbert Hoover Building on Pennsylvania Avenue on my very first day as an intern, I was incredibly intimidated. The building itself is massive, and with its Greek-style architecture it feels like walking into a strange temple. I could not help but feel incredibly underqualified, given my sub-par GPA, average critical thinking skills, and general lack of any sort of direction in life. However, as I met my co-workers, I began to gain a sense of comfort.
After meeting one co-worker, Barbara, I immediately became inspired. A tall, incredibly intelligent lady with the wit of an ice road trucker, she introduced herself with confidence and grace. I took a great risk and said ‘it’s so nice to meet you Barb’ to which she responded ‘no one really calls me Barb………………………………. But I love it’. Incredible, high risk=high reward. We immediately hit it off, and she has truly helped me understand the inner workings of international trade, our government, and just life in general. She has helped me discover my passion, give me direction in life, and we have had some incredible laughs along the way. She is the reason why I am very excited to get to work every morning, and why I want to pursue a career in the public sector.
In general, I have realized that I have no idea what I am doing. But, I have learned more in these few months than I learned in my 4.5 years of college. I have made plenty of mistakes (emailed 200 people the completely wrong attachment and have sent 300 people an email titled ‘Good Evening’ at exactly 8:45am, etc. etc.) and learned from all of them. As Barbara said, ‘it’s a good thing you aren’t a brain surgeon’. She could not be more correct.
But, in this experience, I have discovered that although I do not really know what I am doing with my life, no one else really truly knows either. I was speaking to my 45-year-old boss and asked him if he knew what direction he wanted to take in the next five years. He replied ‘No. Not at all. And no one does’. Wow, incredible news. Instead of worrying so much about what I want to do with my life, I just wake up every day and decide to do my absolute best to make others happy. We’ll play the rest by ear I suppose. If you are reading this and are on the fence about doing this internship, I would absolutely recommend it. It is not often that you get the opportunity to gain experience while having fun at the same time.

Mark Wischmeyer
U.S. Department of Commerce
Washington, D.C. | spring 2018