Out of My Comfort Zone


By Nathaniel Novacco

“You can book your hotel reservation at the Hampton Inn, it’s where the rest of the team will be staying.” That is what I was told on my second day at Schneider Downs. It was a Thursday afternoon during my audit training and the following Monday I was expected to be at a client nearly 100 miles from my home, staying in a hotel for a week, and working with people I had never met. When I asked the staff member leading my training what I needed to do about staying out of town, he nonchalantly told me, “you just need to fill out a travel request form.” He thought I was asking out of curiosity, not because I just found out that I needed to pack a suitcase and leave Monday morning. He was as shocked as I was that I would be traveling out of town, not only as an intern, but as my first assignment. The entire experience was new to me, and the only thing I could think to myself was; “what did I get myself into?”

From my earliest days in the business school at Pitt, my professors, advisors, and peers stressed the importance of an internship. Its significance was a constant thought in the back of my mind. Three years later, after all of the networking events, recruiting, and interviews I was finally there, driving toward a client near Erie at 70 miles per hour. I was nervous, only a handful of days of training and no audit experience whatsoever. I wasn’t sure what to expect, and I didn’t even know what the co-workers I was meeting looked like. However, my fears were completely unfounded. From the moment I rolled into the parking lot and introduced myself, I felt welcome. Everyone I have met has been more than friendly and willing to help, from the Shareholders down to the first year staff members. The transition from wide eyed college student to effective contributor to an audit team was made seamless by my fellow employees. During the entire course of my internship, no questions I asked were too simple and everyone was always willing to drop what they are doing to support my learning experience.

As I look back now, I believe my lack of experience was a blessing. I did not come in with any notions of what I should or would be doing. I could completely dive into whatever task I was assigned to without a second thought. I was lucky enough to be able to work on a variety of clients and projects during my eight weeks. The diversity meant I was constantly challenged and pushed out of my comfort zone, but in the end, that made the experience all the more rewarding. 

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