I was 25 years old when I started working at ExecuTrain as a computer trainer. I was tasked with teaching adults about how to use Windows, Microsoft products, and other such things. After working there for about 3 months, our network administrator left and my boss said, “Hey Michelle. You said you like technical things, right? Well, here’s our network. Take care of it!”
I had no idea where to begin, but begin I did. I quickly began the time-consuming task of teaching my classes in addition to my network administration duties of keeping all the computers working and talking to each other. From that task, my duties expanded to also getting classrooms set up for all the other trainers so they could teach their classes.
Initially, we only had 2 classrooms which wasn’t too hard to take care of, but as we expanded to a new location and built out 6 additional classrooms, and additionally built a 2nd location with another 3 classrooms, I had my hands full.
My next challenge was when they wanted me to start teaching more technical classes. I became certified by both Novell and Microsoft and became authorized to train other people how to set up networks and build computers.
At 25 years old, I was put in the position of teaching 50-year-old men on how to set up/configure their own networks. These were men that typically had been doing this for as long as I’d been alive and they were paying $2000 to listen to my “expertise”. I lived the phrase “If you can’t dazzle them with your brilliance, baffle them with your bullshit.”
During some of the more technical classes, it was inevitable that someone would ask me a question that you could just tell they already knew the answer to. I would smile to hide my panic and calmly state, “That’s a great question, but it’s a bit out of scope of what we are currently talking about. Let me get back to you about that.” Then either during lunch or after hours, I’d frantically look up what they were talking about. Talk about stress!!
This entire experience taught me a few things:
- I’m fully capable of multi-tasking challenging items. Taking care of the network, setting up classrooms for others, learning my own class materials, training my own classes, and learning new material – these were my daily tasks for over 4 years.
- I can speak on a subject that I’m not an expert in, but still come across as an expert. I swear some of my students tried to trip me up with their questions, but I learned how to keep my calm and speak as if I knew what I was talking about.
- I love working with computers. Even though this was a stressful job, it taught me so many valuable aspects of computers that I still use to this day.
- I’m very analytical. I always knew this, but this job showed it to me in every aspect. When something wasn’t working, I had to take it piece by piece to figure out the problem.
To this day, I’m so glad for the experiences that ExecuTrain provided. It has helped mold my career into what it is today. Even though I feel like I’m an expert in a lot of computer areas, I do still come across times when I either dazzle them with my brilliance or baffle them with my bullshit.
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