Lessons from a Summer Job Experience
By Noam Gelles
Noam, a college junior, shares some helpful job tips.
Q: How do you ask work-related questions appropriately?
A: Don’t interrupt if your supervisor or co-worker is on the phone. Bundle your questions together and be able to explain why you are asking the question (Are you asking because you don’t know or are you curious).
Q: How do you say “I don’t know” to a customer without sounding stupid?
A: “I need to get some answers.” “I need to call you back when I get more information.” “I’ll look into that.”
Q: How do you resolve a problem?
A: I learned how to get the most information out of people so that I could try to solve the problem myself or share all the information with a co-worker so they could solve the problem.
Q: How do you not overload yourself?
A: It is easy to get involved in multiple things and then be asked for something else right away. It helps to ask when a project needs to be done. I learned that I had to be flexible to switch gears and also to prioritize. Budget your time so you don’t get stressed out and overwhelmed.
Q: How do you deal with multiple customers who are saying that their task is the most important thing and needs to happen right now?
A: “I’m sorry but everyone is otherwise occupied.” You can offer them an estimate of when their task could be completed or also check with co-workers if anyone is free to work on their job right now. Patience – people called in a state of hysteria and I learned how to be able to calm them down and ask them “how can I help you?”
Q: How do you learn to self-advocate?
A: Ask to do things you normally wouldn’t be assigned.
Q: How do you learn from your mistakes?
A: I learned how to look for my own mistakes. One time, a client thought I didn’t solve the problem the right way but there was additional, unshared information that made it more complicated. My supervisor should have given it to another person.
Q: What to do when you are out of things to do?
A: Have backup tasks from the previous day or longer-term projects. Do not say, “I’m not doing anything.” Ask for backup tasks if you don’t have any.
Q: What are some key social skills tips to keep in mind?
A: I have a few things that have helped me:
- Understand basic social cues. If you are talking and going on for too long and others are not paying attention, then stop what you’re saying.
- Tell people when you need to get back to work. You can say, “Hey, I’d love to hear about this later but I have a few deadlines now and need to get back to things.”
- Make eye contact and offer handshakes and “thank you’s.”
Noam Gelles, son of Milestones Autism Resources Operations Director Mia Buchwald Gelles, is now a junior at Alfred State majoring in Computer Information Systems.