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I’m Lost in a Strange World Where I Don’t Speak the Language. Maybe I Should Google It.

Updated: Dec 9, 2021

[By Kerri Nettles]

It’s almost a feeling of panic, like getting lost in the grocery store as a child. You’re looking all around but don’t know where to go, and you can’t see the exit through the towering isles. Nothing looks familiar, and you’re afraid to ask for help out of fear of judgment or punishment. That’s how it feels when you get on a computer, and you have no idea what you’re doing.

When interviewing for a job a number of years ago, that’s how I felt. I was three years old at Safeway all over again. The manager wanted me to demonstrate my skills and sat me in front of a computer.

a laptop with two people discussing in the background

“I need you to compile a spreadsheet with this data. Then, tally the agency’s profits.”

The first few minutes felt like hours. In my previous job, I’d used a computer 8 hours a day, but “Huh?,” I thought to myself. All I could see was the word “Excel” and a bunch of boxes. This was unfamiliar territory.

I had all kinds of skills, talents and attributes to offer the agency, but at that moment I doubted myself. I was embarrassed. I was scared.

So, I muddled through the best I could, having no idea where to click. I entered numbers into those boxes and added them up in my head. Yes, that was one of the skills I had to offer. I didn’t even know there was such thing as a formula or code that would add the numbers for me, but boy the manager did.

“Well, you didn’t do it right, but I guess you got the job done.”

Going into the interview, I felt well-prepared and intelligent. Now, not so much.

In today’s world, technology is all around us, and it evolves so quickly it can feel hard to keep up. Each time my iPhone updates, I have to learn how to use it all over again–which means bribing my kids for a tutoring session or Googling it.

Google has become my best friend–from helping me figure out how to make an “®” symbol on a MacBook to knowing what year Billy Joel wrote “We Didn’t Start the Fire.” And now, the internet giant is here to help us escape the grocery store, well, figuratively anyway.

Google has partnered with Goodwill to offer the Goodwill Digital Career Accelerator®. They are free online classes anyone can take. You can learn basic computer skills. For me, I can finally learn Excel. If you like, you can even learn how to create your own computer code. If I have questions, and believe me I will, I can talk with a live Goodwill instructor through Google classroom. Boy, where was this when I was shaking in my boots in front of a screen of boxes under the watchful eye of a woman I’d hoped would offer me a job?

Just like venturing into any new place, it takes a minute to learn the lingo, get a feel for the lay of the land and understand the ins and outs. If you open yourself up to it, though, before you know it you’ll call this new land “home.” The first leg of the journey, visiting to sign up.

As for that job … They did offer it to me, but I turned it down. I still had a lot to learn first.


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