Today we had additional training on PCT applications, and some cadets had training on another non-patent literature database we can access.
I think many of us are at an awkward stage: we have learned enough basics that a lot of the information we’re seeing is somewhat repetitive from what we learned earlier. At the same time, it is easier to get lost on the newer, more advanced material. I think I sense some nervousness in much of the class as we enter the final days of our non-production time, especially since many people still haven’t finished their first Office Actions, yet.
There’s no great reason to be worried. We have time to improve and learn over the next six months in the academy. At the same time, there’s the prospect of accelerated promotions, which many people are anxious to get. With many new jobs, I think, there are a few stages that new hires go through.
- Excusable Incompetence. I’m new here, I’m not expected to know anything.
- Fear About Future Competence. I’ve been here a little while. I should be better at this. Everyone else here is good at this, why am I not?
- Increasing Competence (hopefully). I’m getting better at this. I remember things, I can do tasks with less supervision. I’m catching on.
- Competence (again, hopefully). I can do this job independently. For the most part, I know the ins and outs.
Most of us are at stage two. Maybe many people aren’t fearful, but that’s a natural reaction. After all, our trainers and other experienced examiners make it look so easy. Will we be able to work at that level? All you can do is your best; focus on learning and not asking the same questions over and over, and doing as much as you can.
Perhaps I’m overstating the case, however. Perhaps most in the class are supremely confident. Many of us have been working on applications in some form or another for a little while now, without the pressure of production, so perhaps that introduction is enough to convince most that they can do the job.
Of course, my point isn’t about the universality of fear at this particular stage in the process, but rather that I’m sure everyone goes through it. Maybe not at this particular job, but in another. It’s something to work through and acknowledge as part of the natural learning process.
And sometimes it helps to know that you’re not the only one.