Growing Pains

Someone once told me that in order to grow you need to be intellectually uncomfortable by exploring different subjects and points of view out of your comfort zone.

Comfort is something everyone craves. We tend to remain set in our ways and avoid change, but it’s through discomfort that we learn and grow.

During the summer before my freshman year at Penn State, I stumbled across a wonderful opportunity, an internship at a State College start-up called ParkingBee. I had experience in marketing and copyediting, but I had yet to take college-level marketing courses, so I hesitated to apply for this internship. I thought my chances of getting the job were low, and I hated the idea of failing, but I really wanted to work for a start-up. I begrudgingly took the leap and applied. This is the best advice I can give: if you’re interested in something, do it without hesitation.

Applying for this internship was the first step in a long road of discomfort for me. I crafted my first résumé. It was painfully bad. I had my first job interview. It went okay. Each step in the process pushed me further and further out of my comfort zone, but it’s because of my initial leap that I was able to learn everything I know now about trying something new.

Joining ParkingBee and interacting in the workplace created a whole new level of discomfort for me. I was a freshman in a predominantly upperclassmen and postgraduate environment. It was definitely another adjustment. But as I worked in the office and interacted with everyone, I learned so much about start-ups and being an entrepreneur. My boss, who is the founder of ParkingBee, gave me an inspiring book about entrepreneurship called The Lean Startup that grew my desire to become an entrepreneur. He described how he built ParkingBee from the ground up and he taught me the skills I’ll need when I start my own business. Furthermore, I received résumé help, made friends, and honed my copyediting and marketing skills. None of this would’ve happened if I hadn’t stepped out of my comfort zone and tried something new.

If you want to become an entrepreneur, you can’t hesitate. You can’t shy away from new opportunities. I’ve gained invaluable knowledge and experience through my time at ParkingBee, and I wouldn’t be where I am now if I hadn’t left my comfort zone.

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