Monday, July 4, 2011

Made a Mistake? Why You Should 'Fess Up and Fix It

It’s going to happen eventually; as an intern, you will most likely make a mistake at some point during your internship. And I’m not talking about the minor fashion faux paus I made on my first day - I’m referring to actual poor decisions that may reflect negatively in your employer’s eyes.

The fashion closet was absolutely crazy this week. Tons of trunks filled with clothes and accessories were coming back from photo shoots around the world. My job, along with the other 20 or so interns, was to unpack these trunks and return items to the designers or showrooms. Ever try sorting through 400 pairs of designer socks to find a matching pair? It gets frustrating very quickly.

Here’s where the poor decisions come in. One day, at around 8 p.m. (12 hour days are the norm), the fashion assistant who works with the interns asked me to work on an especially large return – about 70 items – that needed to be completed that night.

The closet was an absolute disaster, and I was having trouble finding things. About an hour later I had only found 10 items, so I asked some of the other interns to help me. I figured the sooner we found the clothes, the sooner we could leave!

Bad move. With so many people working on one project, things became sloppy. Long story short, another intern filed some paperwork incorrectly, but it ended up looking like my fault. In fact, the fashion assistant gathered us all together and gave us a looong speech about “not naming names” but some people are not taking this job seriously. Yup, she was talking to me. I tried not to cry.

I pride myself on my work ethic, and I’m not one to make excuses so I didn’t try to shift the blame on the other interns. However, for some stupid reason I didn’t fix the paperwork that night, or the next day! It wasn’t until 2 days after the fiasco when it hit me that I should make an effort to correct myself. So I sent the assistant an apologetic e-mail, promised it wouldn’t happen again, and came in on my day off to correct it. All is well, and she thanked me for coming in on my day off.

Take away two things from this, Edsters. First, don’t delegate and cut corners. Do things right, even if you have to stay later. Second, if you do mess up – fix it immediately. Trust me, your efforts will be noticed, even if they’re not publicly acknowledged. I wish I had fixed my mistake sooner, but what’s done is done.

Did you ever screw something up at your internships? How did you redeem yourself?

Fashion Intern

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