Lessons Learned from a Summer Job

Adrian S. Potter
5 min readFeb 26, 2022

You never know when you’ll discover wisdom.

Photo by Kane Reinholdtsen on Unsplash

Here is a story about how a college-aged version of me stumbled into a growth mindset. It begins, like most narratives, at the doorstep of the protagonist’s fears.

Let’s start with something most can agree with — public speaking can be challenging and scary.

That’s why countless people join Toastmasters, seek therapy to overcome stage fright, and rank public speaking as their number one phobia (though I think clowns are MUCH scarier).

Few are born with the ability to stand in front of crowds, present, and take questions without nervousness. The rest of us are left to cope with our worries, which is easier said than done.

Nowadays, I’m at ease speaking in front of people, but I started as terrified as anybody. A younger me was deathly afraid of it. I just happened to learn a few ideas from a summer job in my late teens.

Towards the end of my freshman year in college, I struggled to make ends meet.

I fell into an interview for a position on campus over the summer and smooth-talked my way into becoming an Orientation Advisor. One on one, in an interview setting, my nerves were at bay and my charisma shined.

I would help incoming students learn about the campus and counsel them on the engineering program requirements. There were 18 advisors for the different colleges within the university — I was one of two who would focus on engineering students.

The job paid good money — if I remained disciplined, I could come out of the season with a large chunk of my tuition. Plus, I would have free room and board in a party-heavy college town over the summer. It was a sweet gig.

People said I should feel lucky — freshmen rarely earned an Orientation Advisor position.

And I did feel lucky. Until I discovered how much public speaking was involved.

Photo by Product School on Unsplash

I would need to give long presentations to groups of 20–24 students throughout the summer. I also had to do shorter lectures to their parents.

Adrian S. Potter

Antisocial Extrovert · Writer and Poet, Engineer, Consultant, Public Speaker · Writing about self-improvement, gratitude, and creativity · www.adrianspotter.com