Interns mess up a lot. It’s a fact. They can’t help it, and a lot of times it’s not entirely their fault. Obviously, however, there are certain mistakes that are worse than others.
Our interns have been working hard for almost 6 weeks now. They’ve been through a week of classroom training and have had 5 weeks to learn on the job. We review our interns halfway through their internship, so last week I was asked to provide some feedback for the interns that were stuck working on deals with me.
To make sure I wasn’t being too harsh on them, I thought back to my internship experience 4 short years ago, which was at the same company where I currently work.
The biggest lesson I learned was
always go out drinking with the full-time employees when they offer never make the same mistake twice.
There’s nothing wrong with making mistakes. In fact, they often are the best way to learn. Many times it’s not even your fault - how are you supposed to know the first time which way a certain boss likes his spreadsheets formatted?
You’ll be fine as long as you make sure that you focus intently on fixing the mistake the next time you’re working on a similar assignment.
So what’s the big problem with making the same mistake twice? It sends a terrible signal about your ability. Logically, either:
While this may be sound harsh, it’s definitely the way people react to seeing the same mistake over and over again. It doesn’t matter if you actually are smart or a diligent worker, if other people have the impression that you are dumb or lazy they won’t want to work with you or hire you.
Both of these would be major red flags in any job but are especially problematic for investment banking. If you can’t be trusted to learn from your mistakes, how can your boss trust you to handle a new challenge you haven’t been exposed to before?
Here are some suggestions on how to prevent making the same mistake again:
Good luck. (And seriously, when any full-time employee asks an intern to grab a coffee or a drink with them you should go!)
Anyone have any other “worst” mistakes you can make as an intern?