Friday, April 18, 2008

You're going to make mistakes

A few days ago, a friend of mine called me, almost in tears, about what she felt was an unfair charge from a service provider. Unfortunately, since the service was irreplaceable and she felt that the person may bad mouth their company, making it more difficult to get help in the future, so she felt like she had to pay it. She also felt like she had no support from her managers and that she was going to be taken out to the woodshed over the cost.

I had bad news: suck it up. My next suggestion: how would you make sure this never happens again? Actually write out a plan that explains how you would get this service in the future and what choices you would have to deliver the service. When she goes to the meeting, yes, she has to mea maxima culpa, but she also has a plan on how to prevent the issue. Since the service was well-received and they would like to do it again, dealing with this issue is imperative.

I give you this little tip--try to fix the issue or come up with a plan to maintain the program--since this will happen to you during your first few years on the job or while you are the intern taking on your special summer project. You're going to try to make it spectacular, but to be really seen and shared, you need to make a record. Describe what you learned and what you would improve on. I wish I had done that on my internships: I did a few projects that I was really proud of, but do I have a record? Nope. Some of them could be really useful in my portfolio, but I have to make do with what I have now, not the progression in my career, no demonstration--except in my head--of how I got better by making mistakes.

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