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  • Praxis Alumnus James Walpole Reflects on his Placement Process

James Walpole is a Praxis alumnus. He’s now the Marketing and Communications Manager at BitPay. I recently asked James a few questions about his placement process. Here’s what he had to say:
What anxieties did you have as you went through the placement process?
“I had very few tangible skills and little interview experience going into my Praxis experience. I wasn’t confident in my own value and my ability to communicate that value. I had little idea if I was going to do it right – whether I should more enthusiasm, less enthusiasm, how to be professional – in interviews.”
What advice would you give someone going through the placement process?
“Do some background research into your company first. Be prepared to provide value up front, even if that means just writing a simple blog post for or about the company and what they’re doing. Bring great questions to the table. Be curious, humble, truly engaged with what your potential business partner is doing.”
What’s the biggest success you’ve had at your business partner?
“I’ve been able to move from being a really unskilled intern to being a fairly competent marketing manager in just a couple of years. On a personal level, that’s involved gaining a lot of confidence in dealing with people, negotiating, and turning negative feedback into positive action.”
What’s the biggest failure or learning experience you’ve had at your business partner?
“I had to relearn my writing style. I spent about nine months at BitPay struggling through my very stiff, academic style of writing and often failing to integrate the feedback I got from my team about it. I wasn’t very much help when it came to copywriting, and I endangered my own job because of that.
I learned from this experience that feedback, while sometimes painful, is just useful data. It’s your responsibility to see it and integrate it and respond appropriately.”
What have you learned about yourself since starting?
“I’ve learned that I’m a perfectionist. This means I do good work, but it often means that I take on too much work. Then I paralyze myself in analysis of whether my work is “good enough.” Paralysis by analysis is a big weakness that I’m still working through.
This all comes from a fear of failure that I’ve become much more comfortable with since going through Praxis. I’ve learned that if I’m going to act, I have to accept the possibility of failing. Trying and failing is usually better than not trying at all. And if you use it right, failure can often be a stepping stone to a better, wiser, more effective version of yourself.”

Want to find out how you can get an apprenticeship like James? Download the Praxis program guide to learn more.