Did you make a mistake during your internship? Here are 10 things to think about….
1) Johnny Cash said, “You build on failure. You use it as a stepping stone.” Internships are about learning, and part of learning is making mistakes. You’re supposed to make mistakes during an internship. It’s how you learn.
2) Did anybody die or was anybody permanently injured? If not, don’t worry, everybody will live and it can be fixed.
3) How you handle the mistake is more important than the mistake. Own it. Take responsibility for it. Say, “this happened and it is my fault.” People rarely take responsibility for mistakes. If you do, the fact that you do will get so much attention it is likely that people won’t really focus on the mistake itself.
4) Understand that there can be a mistake that wasn’t your fault, but is still your responsibility. If you are in charge of a project and somebody you’re working with messes up such that the project falls apart, it wasn’t your fault, but it is your responsibility. Be responsible. Own up to it. Sometimes things you are responsible for fall apart and there is nothing you could have done to prevent it. It happens. Understand the different between fault and responsibility.
5) If you feel like you should (and err on the side of feeling like you should) say sorry. Saying it one time is enough. Mean it when you say it.
6) It is very likely, almost certain, that you’ve made a mistake that your mentor made when they were at the same point in their career. Moreover, your mentor has probably seen other interns make this same mistake lots of times before. In a weird way, the fact that you make the mistake your mentor made at your age, and its the same mistake that others always make, can bring you closer to the person or people mentoring you during an internship.
7) Show that you have learned from the mistake. Be able to explain what you’ve learned. Take steps, that you can point to, that will keep you making the same mistake again. Write it down. Don’t hesitate to explain to your internship host how you intend to avoid the mistake again in the future.
8) If you’re mad at yourself for making the mistake, if it feels like it was a big deal, don’t be afraid to show it. Don’t get bogged down in emotion, but also don’t be afraid to let yourself feel the emotion. We learn best during highly emotional states. Take advantage of your emotions while you’re feeling them to learn from the mistake.
9) You may feel bad – have faith in the knowledge that this feeling will very much go away the next time you do something great…but until then, you’ll just have to wait.
10) The day will come when you’ll be able to laugh about this mistake. By the time that happens you will realize that the mistake you made during your internship made you stronger.