One of the most challenging experiences of my past years was the process of application for the summer internship with some firms. The method of compiling cover letters and networking with representatives of different organizations was genuinely challenging and involved an intense reasoning process. Throughout this process, I was trying to come up with different solutions that would most effectively address the problem of job search.
During this process, I was naturally inclined to feel anxiety and confusion as I often did not know what to begin with, how to start and to finish my cover letter, and how to talk to the people whom I turned to in the process of the search. I think I learned to associate an application for a position with a rigorous test of my abilities, and as tests tend to put me in a state of anxiety and nervousness. I have at times failed some rather simple tests just because of my nervousness. As in every process here, it was true that “it is the relation of the conditioned stimulus to subsequent behavior that produces learning” (Adelson, 2004). For this reason, I learned the negative response to tests through the process of classical acquisition – when I am being tested and evaluated, I tend to expect a failure just because it has happened to me before. Through the process of stimulus generalization, I learned to detest any process that involves a degree of standard evaluation that will lead to a definitive result – pass or fail. The recruiting process seemed similar to the conditioned stimulus of the classroom test.
Memory was also involved in the reasoning process. I brought up the instances in which I was exposed to a similar process, such as application to colleges. Under those circumstances, I also had to write letters in which I demonstrated my interest in a specific program, explained my choice of the program and tried to prove that I am a good fit for a particular college or program.
Through historical memory, I tried to see what I did well and where I made mistakes to apply this knowledge for the future. This episodic autobiographic memory retrieved many instances in which I was speaking to the college admissions officers and highlighted some aspects of my life history exceptionally well; or, on the other hand, did not do very well and mumbled through the words or just said the wrong thing. In this way, my memory supplied me with useful material for the reasoning process.
I think the main obstacle to the reasoning process was lack of information. Quite often, I had to wonder how I am going to decide upon the wording of my letters since I was not sure how those would be evaluated. Besides, ambivalence was adding to the difficulty since I was not sure how to assess different openings and which options to pursue. The anxiety was weighing heavily on my application process as it affected the decision-making and affected my emotions that in turn interfered with the reasoning process.
Learning was involved in my reasoning, constituting an integral part of any experience since “without learning, a species could not adapt and endure” (Adelson, 2004). I went through the process of observational learning, see how other people coped with the same problem. In workshops devoted to the compilation of resumes and cover letters, worked with career advisors helping me look through job descriptions containing information about specific openings, and talked to senior students who have been through the same process already. Looking at my classmates, I was also able to learn a lot about how they did, evaluating others who were more successful than I was and learning from the mistakes of those who did not do very well.
The internship search process utilized for the most part three of the multiple intelligences described by Gardner: intrapersonal, interpersonal, and linguistic. Intrapersonal intelligence is present in people who are “talented at reflecting on their experiences and feelings and learning from these reflections” (Green, Tanner, 2005, p. 313). These skills came in useful as I was trying to reflect on my past experiences in my cover letters and invent ways to relate them to my future challenges.
On the other hand, people with solid interpersonal intelligence “enjoy working in groups and gain energy from the interaction with others” (Green, Tanner, 2005, p. 313). This skill came in useful in interaction with recruiters where I was trying to make the best of my communications skills that would hopefully enable me to achieve considerable progress in my career through effective networking. I was also trying to learn a lot from my peers and seniors, applying my interpersonal intelligence to establish rapport with them.
Linguistic intelligence related to practical use of language that was necessary for the composition of cover letters. This was the opportunity to develop this type of knowledge. I believe that timely development of writing skills and learning the language of professional business writing could have improved my chances of success dramatically.
In my opinion, I could have improved my reasoning process if I had tried to establish distinct criteria to evaluate prospective job opportunities. In this case, I could set down my requirements for a specific job, trying to match it with my qualifications. Also, I could have used several techniques in writing my cover letters. For example, I could have tried to connect written and oral speech, trying to speak out my story and later putting it on paper. Besides, another way to improve the outcomes of the process could have been to try to remove the anxiety by finding ways to dissociate the recruiting process from the stressful test situation. In these ways, I could “reason out” the issue, trying to place objective criteria in my thinking process and removing the toxic emotional overload.
Adelson, R. (2004). One fundamental learning process: Pigeon research suggests that classical and operant conditioning share a common process, lending insight into clinical work. APA Monitor, 35(3). Retrieved January 11, 2007, from http://www.apa.org/monitor/mar04/converge.html
Green, C., & Tanner, R. (2005). Multiple Intelligences and Online Teaching Education. ELT Journal 59(4). Retrieved January 12, 2007, from http://eltj.oxfordjournals.org/cgi/content/abstract/59/4
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