In previous jobs, and now in my role as a content writer, I have made a lot of mistakes. I have seen the good, the bad and the ugly during dozens of conducted job interviews, and I am consistently amazed at how basic the things are that usually go wrong.
My first job interview is one of those awkward events in life that keep me awake at night. I was eager to make a good impression, so I decided to go there at least 30 minutes in advance. It was not something unusual for me – I am well-known among my friends for always being too early for appointments. I found the building on time and quickly oriented myself to the waiting room. Little did I know that arriving too soon could be disruptive to the hiring manager’s schedule! She was clearly irritated, and this is where we got off the wrong foot. I did, however, do my “homework” for the company in advance, that is, I did my research and prepared for their questions. I kept repeating my scripted monologue over and over in my head while entering the interview room. She asked me if I would like a cup of water and I automatically started talking about my assets and what I could contribute to the company. I was anxious, and when I realized what it was that she actually asked me, I froze up.
This was the next mistake I made – I did not put things into perspective. Yes, it is difficult to maintain a sense of perspective when you are deeply upset with yourself. But it taught me that my emotional response should be proportional to the gaffe I make. There are exceptions to this rule; if you are a pilot or a surgeon, making such an error at work is most likely a life-or-death situation. Most mistakes, however, can be resolved or corrected right away. I had to learn this lesson over and over at my first workplace.
But simpler things also work me up. I have attached the wrong file to an email or forgot to attach one altogether. I have double-booked an important meeting and included a typo in an important email. I have emailed everyone; instead of CC them to keep them in the loop on my message to others. Yet, I am still alive. I now realise that I love what I do because nobody dies if I am not witty enough or did not use a catchy phrase in an article. I do my best, but ultimately, it is words on a screen.
Another crucial mistake I did was not to speak up when I was overloaded. I have always had the mind-set that it was good to be willing to perform a variety of tasks. However, what I did not acknowledge at the time is that I need to be able to recognize when I have taken on too much. I had important exams coming up and a tough course. In addition, I had my internship, I was participating in a university program, and I was also volunteering for several events. I told myself that all I needed was some stable organization and that I would eventually accomplish everything. In the end, not only did I not pass my exams, but I also did not deliver a good performance at my internship. This was how I knew where my limit was and it taught me not to be afraid to speak up and ask for prioritizing certain tasks over others.
When I reflect back on my first job, along with the heart-warming firsts (such as my first paycheck and savings), I also remember all those things I had to learn by messing them up the first time around. Looking back now, I know that what is important is to remember how far I have come. I also realise that everyone I had worked with has made mistakes and perhaps, even felt the same way. Here lies the ultimate lesson – one of the biggest mistakes you can make is to hide from them. If you cannot admit that something went wrong, there would be no learning curve. My advice is: be honest with yourself about where things got off course so you can keep moving forward.
Written by Nesrin Nazlieva for Together Abroad