Training = Shakespeare

For the month of September, I spent my weekends out at Morton Arboretum in Lisle, Illinois. I was acting as a hike leader for TheatreHikes’ performance of “The Tempest,” which David (our music director at Underscore) orchestrated. My job was essentially to lead the audience from scene to scene, throughout the Arboretum. I would indicate where to sit, explain what was going on, keep them entertained while the actors set up, and talk about the other shows in our season.

One of the little spiels I would give was something that the artistc director’s husband says sometimes: That listening to Shakespeare is kind of like listening to a new song. You might not understand every word, but you’ll pretty quickly get the sense of what is happening, and if you relax and enjoy it, you’ll find that you pick up more than you expected.

I mean, not enough to go do karaoke and sing that song or to perform that character during the next show. That’s just asking for trouble.

Well, it turns out that training for a brand new job in a brand new industry is pretty similar.

My first couple of days, I was secretly pretty stressed out. I was trying to commit eight hours worth of words to memory per day. Maybe it comes from my temp experience–I expect to be thrown into something right away, and to only be told what to do once.

And let’s face it–every industry has its own version of English, potentially as foreign as the Elizabethan English in which Shakespeare wrote. Your trainers are fluent in this language, and don’t necessarily know when to dumb it down for you, a newly immersed student. Maybe they shouldn’t–you need to learn it, after all. So you feel like someone who starts reading “A Clockwork Orange.” What the hell are “glazzies” and how do they fit into the story?!

It took me until Wednesday to calm down a little bit, and to realize that my lovely coworkers weren’t going to just toss me in the deep end and run away. I’ll actually be training for three weeks, and I’ll be ready. Because the most amazing thing has started to happen: I’ve begun to see through all the buzzwords to realize what the actual tasks are that I’ll be doing, and it turns out that they are none of them mystifying.

(I just had an internal grammar battle with myself over that phrase and whether or not I should include commas. Fascinating stuff, amiright?)

I’m realizing that an entry-level job will not include anything that requires a PhD to complete, or even an MBA, if those were not part of the job description. What remains is for me to learn how to speak “paid search.” Right now, if I don’t calm myself down, I hear words like “bid strategy” and my brain throws up a huge wall. “WE’VE HIT JARGON,” it shouts. “HEAD FOR THE HILLS!” Maybe it’s just lazy and doesn’t want to do the work to deconstruct the phrase, because it would take too long to think, “Okay, you bid on keywords to see if you can get your ad to show up when people search for a certain term, and this is the way that you do that to maximize your success.” By the time if runs through that, the other person is four more sentences into their thought and I’m completely lost.

Soon, my lovelies. Soon, you will decode what exactly your boss means when she asks you about “bandwith.” Soon you will be right on board with the names of functions in Excel. Soon you will walk into the theater or the board room or your kitchen with confidence, pull out the right tools for the job, and get down to work.

For now, it’s okay to smile and nod and let the words wash into your brain.

Do try to understand, of course. Don’t just hum “Sittin’ on the Dock of a Bay” in your mind while you grin and bob your head.

Soon, you’ll be a part of this brave new world, and one of such people in’t.


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