As someone who had a major fear of public speaking since elementary school, conducting training classes is not something I thought I would ever voluntarily do – let alone enjoy. In college, I forced myself to take leadership roles that required me to public speak because I had to get better. Now, in this internship I have taken many leaps outside my comfort zone. From driving to new towns all over Pittsburgh to getting up in front of many groups of different strangers to speak, I have already started to notice improvements in myself. The nerves are fading away, I am starting to enjoy venturing to new places, and being able to meet new people and hear their stories while I share mine.
The three training classes I have been observing are CPR/First Aid, Excavation and Trenching, and Permit Required Confined Space. Fortunately, I have received my CPR certification every two years since I was in ninth grade, so I was very comfortable when I had to get up in front of the class to co-instruct that one. As for Excavation and Trenching and Confined Space, my professors went over them in class, so I had a basic understanding of the information. When it came down to it, though, I didn’t know enough to confidently talk to a group of people who have been doing this work for years. This gave me the opportunity to dig deeper into the slides, read OSHA standards, letters of interpretation, etc., and find out every bit of information I could until I felt ready to present. My favorite part about this internship is that every day I get the opportunity to learn new things.
While observing the training presentations I was able to watch three different trainers present the same material in completely different ways. They each put their own unique spin on the information and had a different way of connecting to the class. They told stories of their own past experiences that added a personal touch to the slides. Each week, I try to add a few more slides to what I presented the last time and make improvements if needed. I am getting to know some of the workers at the Pennsylvania American Water facilities that we regularly travel to. It was a satisfying moment when one of the employees recognized me from the first time I co-instructed a class and told me I am getting better and that I seemed more comfortable. As with everything in life, practice makes perfect, and you’ll never improve unless you step out of your comfort zone. These trainings are just the beginning of a long list of things that I will experience at RETTEW and in my career that will cultivate personal development and knowledge as I grow into a confident professional.