The Art of Supervising

For a teenager or youth in their college years, questions seem to come from all directions! Queries such as where to find good Thai food, are easier to handle (by searching the Internet or to getting references from friends). But career questions like how to find your way into meaningful work experiences–are much tougher to answer, and more baffling.

Remember having to draft your first résumé? Or how it felt to get your first job interview, followed by learning the ropes during your first weeks at a new job?
These experiences seem so ordinary that we are quick to say to a youth, “You’ll find your way the same way I did!”

We do find ways to muddle through uncharted territory, but how we navigate the transition into achieving steady work or the beginnings of career can, in many ways, either make or break a person’s confidence and sense of well-being. Imagine the difference a mentor could make to someone walking this journey.

When my wife and I built a house ten years ago, we knew we could
hire people to handle necessary paperwork and to undertake the various
construction jobs. But what we really needed was someone who could be our
guide. We didn’t just need contractors but also a trusted person we could talk to. We needed someone who could understand our ideas and give us sound advice, because he or she had held the same dreams and visions, had been through similar headaches and had completed the journey.

This is the main reason why Ogallala Commons Community Internships & Apprenticeships require an on-site supervisor — because every intern or apprentice who succeeds does so with help from a guide. No matter how talented or highly motivated an understudy is, he or she will not reach a high level of achievement without a mentor who knows the work situation, an ally who can give
constructive criticism when it is needed, or an advocate who introduces the
newcomer to a widening circle of professionals and civic leaders. In the end, it is people who open doors for us, more than our grade point average or our shining résumé.

Supervising is not overly complicated—it’s walking alongside someone who is learning how to use their talents and find their voice. It is giving attention to someone asking those same questions you once asked.