Work, Career, Now + Beyond

This is why failing at a new job isn’t the end of the world

I admit I failed. But I learned a lot along the way.

I started working at a new job. It is perfect for me: remote, so it works with my school and extracurricular schedule, and focuses on writing, which I hope to make a career in. I felt valid in all of the work that I’d done previously, and was excited for the opportunity to impress my new peers. But what I am quickly realizing is that my inexperience truly does hold me back, and I started failing at my new job.

It all started when I missed a two hour orientation meeting. Because of that, I didn’t know any of my assignments, and was several hours behind my peers. I knew this is a mistake that was going to be difficult to come back from. When you fall behind, there is a snow ball effect of work piling up, but also relying on the work before it. This is especially true when its your first day. For example, my assignment for the week was to complete an article, but I didn’t know how to write a pitch, format an image, or use the website for draft writing. So one task is really four.

With all of this work on my plate, and even more on it’s way, I struggled to find a way to still be ‘good’ at my job. And I have no idea if I accomplished that, or if I will ever accomplish that. There is a lot of uncertainty when you’re young and learning, especially when you’re new. At jobs, you get more work, not validation. When you turn something in, you don’t get an A, and you don’t get told good job. My editors tell me how to improve, and I am expected to do so. 

I don’t mean that to sound harsh. Its a reality I am dealing with, too. There is a feeling of never being good enough, never doing anything right, and never knowing whats going on that is fundamental to learning. I am not experienced, so I should not expect myself to be perfect, or even to do things right. This is a learning experience, and I should treat it as such. 

Something I am learning, and consistently reflecting upon in this job, is that education is so different from reality and that your reality is always changing. My reality, for my whole life, has been the classroom.

The degree of difficulty changes, and there are major shifts as you age up and learn more, but a classroom is a classroom. At the end of the day, I know to turn my homework in and work on getting an A. I am good at that, and I know the routine. But now I am not in a classroom, I am in the work force, and I am still learning. But learning through experience is so different than learning through a textbook. And it is so important to acknowledge that shift.

So with all of this work, and a small existential crisis on my hands, I had no choice but to ask for help. I emailed my supervisor, and did my best to get caught up quickly with the information she gave me. But because I have only ever been a student, I had to learn another lesson: supervisors are not here to chastise me. The process is slow. I’ve been making mistakes along the way. And I’m still incredibly and perpetually stressed about getting everything done. But that does not mean that my supervisors are not supportive, and have been extremely patient with me. 

The take away from all of this is I guess three-fold. First off, moving from the classroom to an internship is hard, and more people should admit that. Secondly, that making mistakes along the way (as long as you learn from them) is okay. And lastly: find a company with supervisors that will support you. Because at the end of the day, I wouldn’t have written this article without their support.