The Value of Questions


By Maria Stuvek

In elementary school, one of my best friends asked a ton of questions. She asked so many questions that the teacher implemented a system: every student was only allowed to ask three questions in one day. In the morning, we each received three popsicle sticks with our names on them and turned one into her with the question that we asked. At the end of the day, we returned our unused question sticks to her and would get them back the following morning. The impact that teacher had affected the rest of my life.

I have always been told something along the lines of, “The value of [insert: education, family, being social, volunteering, etc] is extremely important.” However, nobody has ever told me how important questions are valued. When learning how to interview for jobs, I was told to ask questions at the end because, “it is the polite thing to do to make you seem interested.” I never really liked to do that part of the interview. When starting my internship, my world was turned upside down: I had to ask questions.

On my first client, I had no clue what an ERISA audit – an audit of 401(k) plan – was going to be like. I probably asked the manager on my team about 50 questions within the first week. Even by the end of the week, I still had no clue what I had done, but he said it was right. As time passed, and I was continuously scheduled for ERISA audits, I became confident in my work, barely asking any questions.

Then during the fifth week of my internship, I was finally scheduled for a year-end audit. I had gained so much confidence the previous week in my ability. However, when given my first assignment, I was emotionally distraught. I had no clue what was going on. I thought that in that point of my internship, I should have known what was expected of me and how to complete my tasks. I did not want to ask questions because I thought that I was going to ask the wrong thing or embarrass myself. There was no way that I was going to accomplish anything that I was assigned for that week if I was not going to ask questions. Again, like my first week, I asked an extremely large amount of questions, probably more than I did the first week. I became more open to the idea that questions are an everyday part of my future career.

What I have learned from this opportunity to intern with Schneider Downs is the value of a question. I do not think that my elementary teacher meant to cause any harm in any way, but my time spent getting real world experience with SD has opened up my eyes to asking questions. At every stage of our careers we will encounter something unfamiliar. I will no longer be the shy person who is afraid to seek help when struggling to complete a task. Everybody needs to ask questions in order to better not only themselves, but everyone around them.

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