I had spent a month working on the event, and had it locked down. I made all the calls, pushed out the posts on social media and helped with the graphic design for the invitations. I’d even spoken up in client meetings. Surely, I would see a room full of people when the elevator doors opened to the event.
At least that’s what I thought until my manager casually asked, “You made sure the college posted this event on their channels, right?”
I felt all the blood drain out of my head. No, I hadn’t. After the school assured me they would post it, I hadn’t given it a second thought. I grabbed my phone and frantically scrolled a few weeks back on their Facebook page. Nothing. I went over to their Twitter and scrolled down. Nothing. Just then, the doors opened, and a whopping ten people stood in the corridor.
A Facebook post may not have packed the event, but the possibility of attracting even five more participants had slipped right through my fingers. My thoughts raced: I’m not organized enough, I’m not detail-oriented enough… How on earth did I forget to send out a reminder?
Then I stopped kicking myself, and decided to become the Master of the Mistake.
You may be out of school, but you’re still a student
Something I hear time and again at Weber Shandwick is “it’s okay, you’re here to learn.” For an intern, this place is a master class in learning from mistakes. Once I began to realize that, I stopped being so hard on myself and shifted that energy into finding solutions.
Learn which questions are worth asking
It’s easy to fall into the “they said they’re here to help, so I’m going to ask everything just to be sure.” Take a beat, look through your emails, and make sure the question hasn’t been answered yet. Or maybe even run your work past your fellow interns before asking one of your team members. A cool thing about being an intern here is that you’re never the only intern. You can lean on each other’s expertise.
Find the system that works for you
There is so much to know that it can feel like drinking from a fire hose. It took me some time to realize that my method of tracking my lessons learned just wasn’t working. I was writing everything down and had so many post-it notes covering my workspace that I forgot the color of my own desk. What works for me now is to auto-sort my emails and have a separate email box for things I know will come back up in conversation (i.e. flags, client requests and assignments). This helps me pull order out of chaos.
Find the experts and ask for feedback
This is both scary and necessary. Being self-aware can be hard when you’re new at something. People will appreciate you being proactive about your progress, and will be open and honest about tips and tricks. For everything that seems like a huge process, there may be an easier way that somebody can offer. Do yourself a favor and go grab a coffee with teammates. Everybody here is so good at what they do, and each of them has something different to offer. Find the people who can help you.
Wash your eyes
Still confused? Still overwhelmed? Go wash your eyes: Step back, close your eyes and think about a pie recipe you saw in a magazine that you really want to try, or the new acts you’ll see at Sasquatch. Indulge. Take a minute. When you clear your vision, you see things as they are and that can be incredibly enlightening.
My bottom line is to give yourself grace. You deserve it. You were hired for a reason, and mistakes are not only natural, but they can teach you a lot. If you aren’t making mistakes, you aren’t challenging yourself.
Photo Credit David Joyce