When in doubt, ask a question

Sep 12 2013

people raise hands in a classroom

Photo: Sara Peach

Despite spending the majority of my waking hours in Carroll Hall, the home of the Reese News Lab at UNC-Chapel Hill, I still feel like I’m on the go all of the time. Between attending class, building the back end for one of Reese News Lab’s summer start-up ideas, Capitol Hound, completing all of the tasks necessary to get the process going for our group’s start-up idea, and attending various meetings and practice sessions for my extracurriculars, I feel like I rarely have a moment to spare.

Don’t misunderstand me, I enjoy the time I spend in Carroll. I don’t know where else I could find such committed teammates or professors willing to help me troubleshoot for hours apiece. In regard to the Lab, it’s nice to have team members who are as committed to the project as I am and who work together to help answer each others’ questions. In my experience, team members like this are rather hard to come by.

I am grateful for their help an answering some of my questions. I’m not talking about big, general questions about the project or even our final product. I’ve been told time and time again that our current ideas will likely not be the same ones that we end with – and I understand that. I prefer certainty, but I understand that uncertainty has its place.

When talking to someone about the Lab earlier today, I mentioned that I’m not a fan of open-ended questions. While this statement is true, I realized that this is not exactly what I meant. Rather, it is the structuring of a business plan and the questions related to that that I’ve found most challenging so far regarding my work at Reese News Lab. I’ve amassed a fair number of skills thus far in my college career, but knowing how to create a business plan is not one of them. I know that I’m not alone in this, but I find it challenging nonetheless.

For someone who does not typically enjoy asking for help, I’ve become quite accustomed to it lately. Generally speaking, I know what “market” and “market size” are referring to, but in this specific context of working on a startup idea and plan, it suddenly becomes much more difficult for me to grasp.

I’m sure that my future will present me with many more questions to ask. And while I do not relish asking questions, I have learned that asking someone who has participated in something like this before, a startup in our case, can save me (or you) from a world of confusion and from wasting a lot of time. I love Google, but it can sometimes take a while to find the exact answer that I’m looking for – if, in fact, that is even the correct answer. Additionally, the person answering my question may also give me some insight that I would not have come up with on my own.

If you’re working in an environment like this and have a question, my advice would be to ask someone for help.


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