Why learning through observing is underrated #motivationmonday
I used to define learning rather conventionally. Instead of viewing it as ongoing and often subconscious, I saw it as those instances where a challenging task is thrown at you by someone superior. While this belief sounds ridiculous aloud, and written here, I believe it’s more common than we think.
To me, the main problem with the concept of ‘learning’ in fashion is THIS:
1. Fashion internships / jobs involve a lot of admin and manual labour. As a result, people often complain about not ‘learning’ much at all.
When I first started interning, my parents and mentors told me I’d learn the most through ‘observing.’ In the past, I used to think this was a cop-out – an excuse to give young people menial tasks. Lately, however, my opinion has changed quite drastically.
While I think dismissiveness towards assistants is detrimental to any business, I think the menial tasks we do give us the unique ability to see the whole picture of our workplace. Whether we’re tidying the cupboard or answering the phone, assistants notice things their bosses are too preoccupied to see. Additionally, our ‘lack of experience’ gives us more of a neutral, common-sense perspective on the business. How many times have you overheard a conversation that wasn’t meant for you? How many times have you walked to a different department and noticed an error one of your colleagues was making (but your boss never notices)? Do you notice what people are buying / not buying and how your colleagues are responding to this in their business decisions?
I can speak for so many people I know in saying that assistants don’t give themselves enough credit. Friends have told me about problems at work, then a month later their predicted outcome materializes. Because they’re ‘assistants’, however, no one respects their opinion (besides fellow assistants, of course).
So, you ask, how is this supposed to motivate me? For me, there is nothing more motivating than coming together with other assistants, making observations about the industry, then devising how we’ll change it. When we make these connections, stuff like cleaning the kitchen or counting stock doesn’t seem so menial anymore – it’s powerful.
While we make these connections, however, it’s important for us to also consult those with less knowledge and experience in our niche. Often, the best advice I’ve ever received about this show has been from people who don’t listen to podcasts or even like fashion at all.
This week, I challenge you:
1. Get coffee with a fellow assistant / someone at your level in a different fashion company.
2. Ask someone outside the fashion industry for their feedback on your work!
That’s it for this week! In the lead-up to the Season 1 FINALE on Friday, be sure to listen to the latest episode of Fashion Originators below: