My First Career Lesson: Know When to Ask a Stupid Question

My First Career Lesson: Know When to Ask a Stupid QuestionI was 17, fresh out of high school, feeling completely out of place in a Washington, D.C., newsroom stacked with grizzled editors. It was my first day.

My boss, Reginald Stuart, told me he needed some papers faxed. Seeing as I’d just left the 12th grade about a month before, I’d never had reason to use a fax machine. He handed me the papers and the cover sheet, and continued typing.

“O.K.,” I said. “Where’s the fax machine, and how do I work it?”

He glanced up briefly. “Ask somebody.”

Months earlier I’d won a national competition sponsored by Knight Ridder, a corporation that owned the newspapers including the Detroit Free Press, the Philadelphia Inquirer and the San Jose Mercury News. Along with a much-needed scholarship to help with college costs, I had a guaranteed paid internship every summer, starting with this one. It was a big step up from the summer job I’d had the previous two summers, a day camp counselor for elementary schoolers… more



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