smol girl with big thoughts

it's okay not to know

2023 was amazing, I won't get into it yet but trust me it has been one of my better years.

I recently graduated with a Bachelor of Science, and it feels pretty good. Besides the fact that I need to do two more years, it still feels pretty good.

I feel that compared to my peers doing the same degree as me, I am well on track as I have gotten a lot of work experience in my area of study (it is difficult to obtain a placement and kind of competitive in my opinion).

I have work experience in three different industries and getting pretty decent grades so I have nothing to complain about.

I am currently working as a vacation student in the Oil and Gas industry over the summer break. I was super excited to land this placement as I knew nothing about Oil and Gas and was super keen to learn.

Being more than halfway into my degree, I have arrived at an important realisation.

But before I can tell you what I have realised.

I will take you back to the end of 2022 when my journey towards this realisation began to develop.

Summer Break 2022

Last year, I did a placement in the mining industry. This was my first internship so I didn't know what to expect. It was an amazing learning experience and I definitely would recommend it. It was so different from my regular life that I didn't know what to expect. I had to adjust to a specific lifestyle where I would live on-site and be away from friends and family for 5 days.

I grew as a person in the 12 weeks I was there. At the beginning of my placement, it was very overwhelming as I didn't know anything about the mining industry. I felt useless and constantly doubted if I had any value for this company.

It was also even harder as another girl had the same role as me. She was older and appeared to be far more knowledgeable than I could imagine. I didn't feel good and felt insecure about what I had to offer. This was a consistent feeling for approximately three weeks.

Over the 12 weeks, I learned that these vacation programs were designed for us to learn and ask questions. I also stopped comparing myself to the other girl and had more confidence in myself when I realised we both excelled in different things. She was such a kind person and always went out of her way to explain things to me. I appreciated it.

This work placement taught me:

Summer Break 2023

I have met the other vacation students at work and everyone is so lovely.

But, during the first few weeks of my internship, I started to become extremely concerned and sad about my general knowledge.

I am one to ask a lot of questions in general.

I spend a lot of time asking my colleagues questions. How does this work? What is that? Why does it do that? Why do I not know anything? How do they know this stuff? Did I not learn it in class? Is this common sense?

What even is common sense? Who decides it is common sense?

I always could acknowledge that most things that the majority of people knew, I didn't know. I was all right with that.

I was just convinced I lived under a rock and now I am learning all the stuff that I should have known.

But this stuff wasn't common sense.

I know for sure how the Oil and Gas industry process works and even Oil and Gas terminology was not common sense.

So basically from my understanding, when you extract gas from the ground, they drill holes into the reservoir and suck out the gas with long pipes (the process is way more complicated but that is my small summary of it).

I thought when they meant reservoir that there was like a 'big pool' of gas under the ground and they just sucked it up dry. I don't know if that is stupid but it is just what I thought.

I only found out three weeks into my placement that the 'reservoir' is a big porous rock so a rock with lots of holes and the gas is in these holes. Basically, like a big sponge and we are extracting the gas from this sponge.

The other vacation students all seemed to know this. They were surprised that I didn't know this. I was surprised they knew.

I am not sure if you guys know that or are knowledgeable in this field but I am not. I am convinced that Oil and Gas is one of the industries you don't know about unless you have experience in that specific field.

I asked the other vacation students. How do you know all this? Did we learn this in class?

Apart from them being older than me and potentially having learnt some of this in class, there was something I realised at that moment.

They were aware of these specific fields as they had well-educated parents.

So about me, my parents immigrated to Australia from Vietnam. They work low-income jobs, have low English proficiency, and have never obtained any degree of some sort. They are the most hardworking people I know and they have done so well to give this lifestyle to my sister and me.

I am so grateful for their hard work and everything they have given me.

However, it became evident that due to my parent's lack of education, I was disadvantaged compared to my peers. I was always aware of this but it wasn't an issue. I enjoyed being able to continuously learn and grow.

At this point, I felt sad that I didn't know much about the world around me. I once again felt useless.

During my Graduation Ceremony

This is approximately four weeks into my work placement. I took the day off work to graduate with my Bachelor of Science. It was a long hot day but overall was worth it.

As I sit in the ceremony with all my peers seated in rows. I watch each person go up the stairs, walk across the stage, accept their award, and smile for the camera. It was long and honestly got boring at some points (the ceremony went on for two hours).

It was quite exciting when everyone had accepted their awards so naturally you would think it's home time, right? It was not home time.

There were a few important people who had speeches prepared. I listened here and there. When I was listening, the speeches were interesting and pleasing.

Then the valedictorian started to speak. He spoke as if he knew the whole cohort which I found funny because I didn't even know who this person was. It made me think what even is a valedictorian? Is it just the person with the highest marks?

It felt impersonal hearing a stranger talk on behalf of the cohort as this was probably the first time I had ever seen him. But, I did listen to what he was saying.

He said something that resonated with me and got me thinking.

A mentor had said this to him:

A broken clock is right twice a day.

At that moment, it felt like my mind got two times bigger and all my concerns about my lack of knowledge just disappeared.

I think I am trying to say my mind was blown.

What I Learned

I couldn't believe how something a random person said just solved my worries. I guess I just had to look at this from a different perspective.

I don't think it is plain obvious how this quote solved my issue but let me explain.

In my understanding, the quote suggests that even someone who is not successful or dependable might end up being correct, perhaps unintentionally. So if a clock stops at 11 o'clock, it will be right twice a day as in a day it will either be 11 am or 11 pm at some point.

I interpreted this quote to mean that regardless of an individual's status, position, or career role, there could be some value in what they are expressing.

In this case, not saying my parents are a broken clock but they were unable to provide me with knowledge about contemporary global events and modern developments.

I realised that even though my parents couldn't teach me about how the world works, they taught me my morals and values which made me who I am today. Personally, I think this is more valuable.

I also realised the fact that my parents couldn't teach me what I wanted, it was more than alright. My full-time job right now is being a student. This is where all the learning happens. This is the reason why I do internships, to apply what I have learned in class to the real world.

I've come to recognise that this circumstance has provided me with valuable experience and the chance for personal growth.

I tend to ask so many questions but it is just because I don't know and I want to know. I apologise to my friends for asking so many questions but am grateful for their supportiveness as I continue my learning journey.