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August 7, 2018

Failure, Discovery, Learning

Written by

Letícia Guimarães

Santa Clara University 19'

It's day three of my internship and I've been handed the longest code I've ever seen. For a couple of minutes, all I could do was stare at the screen and think "I've only been coding for a month. I can't possibly know what I'm doing." A big part of me just wanted to give up and say that the task was too hard for me. My brain started to calculate how much smarter than me all my coworkers were, and how much I'd disappoint my manager if I asked them basic questions. However, an alarm rang in my mind and I realized I was letting my thoughts wander down an unproductive path. I took a deep breath and remembered what that poster I stared at for month in our classroom said: "Challenge Yourself."

As cheesy as that might possibly sound, that moment determined my attitude for the rest of the week and, if it all goes as planned, for the rest of my internship. At iX, there's not been a moment where I thought "this is too easy" or "I already know all about this", a sentiment true for most people I've met here.

These past couple of weeks have helped me realize that there is no such thing as feeling like I've done enough, or thinking that I know all about a subject. I remember thinking countless times, throughout the first month of class, that the more I learned, the more I knew that I didn't know much.

That's how I came to the conclusion that being in my comfort zone would lead me nowhere. The feeling of not knowing enough about web scraping or machine learning kept me curious every day. The moment I decided to step out of my comfort zone and enter this area of endless confusion and curiosity, I knew I was in discovery mode. I knew that would be the mindset that would allow me to fail, discover, fail again, and maybe learn something in the end.

This all made sense to me on the first day I talked to Mila, my manager. She asked "Do you believe success happens without failure?" In that short meeting, I learned some very useful teachings that would motivate me to understand that code I had been given.  As I started to read it, I began to realize I had seen many of those words in class before; I knew the libraries and a lot of the functions that were being used. And so an 8-hour long journey began. I let go of all the thoughts that were holding me back and I completely immersed myself in that code. By the end of the day, I knew how to work around it, and had made significant modifications towards our end product.

I've accepted that I'm bound to fail many times, but know now that by the end, the reward of creating something is always worth every second I spend out of my comfort zone.

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