Over the last four months, I have been working as an intern at the Burnaby NOW and a pro bono law office for an elective class called work experience that I took as a part of my senior year in high school.
At first, thinking of joining the workforce was nerve-racking; calling employers, practising interview questions, and going through every family member's closet to find the appropriate attire for the first day of work were things I've never done before.
I wasn't sure about anything, from how to address people to when I was allowed to take a break.
But my outgoing personality conquered all my worries. All it took was the courage to ask a few questions to get used to the new environment I was thrown into.
Soon, I found myself casually talking to my co-workers, who were often more than twice my age. I found out that work environments could be casual, yet still maintain their professionalism.
I also learned to communicate better. Both of my jobs as a legal aid assistant and a reporter were to hear others' stories and to share them with either the public or a lawyer.
Interviewing people has shown me a variety of characters and their way of life throughout the community.
I had to become more analytical to ask the necessary questions. Multitasking was very important when I had to juggle writing and interviewing for up to three stories at once.
However, the most significant lesson I've learned through this entire experience was to trust myself and to have confidence to do well in any task.
Even if I wasn't sure how to write my first article or terrified to make that first phone call to a client, I took the chance to figure it out for myself instead of relying on others to do the job for me.
I often had to take criticism to improve my quality of work. My first story may have not been the most sophisticatedly written.
My first phone call to a client in need of legal assistance maybe wasn't the most informative. But when I saw my story get published, and had my supervisor ask me to train another person at the law office, that was all the motivation and encouragement that I needed.
At this point, with high school graduation nearing and having to find my own place in this vast world full of uncertainties, it's scary to leave the comfort and safety the school and home have provided for me the last 17 years. But this opportunity to do a trial run of the worksites has given me assurance that the world beyond what I know is not as bad as it may seems.
The long journey ahead of me will have many obstacles, challenges, and difficult choices to make, but I'll always remember that sometimes, all it takes to succeed is the willingness to work hard and to keep an open mind for whatever comes my way.
Ashley Kim is a New Westminster Secondary School student who spent time at the Burnaby NOW as part of a work experience class.