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Community Fellows Blog Posts

Alex Mueller: Passion and Drive in the Workplace

Alex shares a new perspective on business skills, such as time management and passion, he has learned through his work with local businesses as a part of his internship with the San Jose Office of Economic Development.


In my time working with the San Jose Office of Economic Development as a Business Development so far, I have had the opportunity to directly work with and interact with individuals and small businesses in the local San Jose community. Many of the businesses I work with and assist with getting loans are smaller, lower-income businesses that are typically family owned and run. Something I have noticed that is quite common among the number of businesses I have worked with is that the owners and employees at these businesses have a distinguishable passion and drive for what they do. I tend to work with a lot of restaurants in my line of work, and I have realized that many of these business owners open up their restaurants just with an idea but without much additional planning whether that be financially or location wise. It is this tenacious passion for providing their food to others and delivering happiness to others that I have come to realize is something that may often get lost in the corporate world. Many employees work long hours doing work they may not find enjoyable. However, seeing how happy these restaurant owners and employees are, even if they are not earning as much as they might be in a corporate job, has led to to believe that when entering the workforce it is extremely important we strike a balance between enjoying what we are doing with the pressure to obtain a high-paying job at a reputable Fortune 500 company.

I have also gained an appreciation for and a new perspective on how business skills are used to support non-profit and community work. Many business skills, such as financial management, problem solving, and interpersonal communication skills are extremely important in communicating with non-profits. Many of the companies I work with are located in San Jose and the employees speak either Vietnamese or Spanish as their primary language. This has given me a new perspective on how I communicate with clients or others in the workplace. I have realized that when communicating business needs, simplicity is key. This allows both me and my client to focus on only the important and pertinent details without getting lost in the details of other tasks.

In my organization, the San Jose Office of Economic Development, the most important skills and strengths are time management and the ability to handle multiple projects at once as well as technical, analytical skills. For my position, I often find myself handling multiple tasks at once. For example, at the moment I am currently working on a number of tasks including communicating with businesses about storefront assistance grants, performing an analysis on lending trends in San Jose, and updating our calendar system with new webinars for businesses. I have found that it is incredibly important to learn how to prioritize which tasks are most important. This has also helped me in my coursework for Santa Clara University and has further developed my time management skills, which I am confident will become even more important when I enter the workforce.


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