“Show me an intern who never made a mistake, and I’ll show you an intern who stayed an intern.”
If someone hasn’t already voiced this sentiment, then I’ll take the credit for it. As a new intern at a small PR agency, I’m fortunate to have made my requisite Big Mistake. It was simple really, I printed something for a press kit on the wrong letterhead. But rather than calmly assess the mistake and set about the business of rectifying it, I had a little freak out moment. In earshot of an AAE. “Stop freaking out,” she snapped. “We’ll just print up some more letterhead, no big deal.” That would have been my solution to the problem in about 5 minutes, after I had finished my mini-spaz. But evidently, my snafu didn’t even warrant a full minute’s hysterics.
What I took from the experience (and what’s the point of making glaring mistakes if they don’t come with bonus lessons?) was not to keep my mishaps a secret. But to keep calm and carry on. As an intern, I’m expected to futz up a few things. But as a professional, I’m expected to rationally assess the situation and reassure those around me that there’s a resolution forthcoming or gain their assistance on how to go about correcting it. Disproportionate reactions inspire suspicion and mistrust. You don’t want to be known as the girl or guy who gets knocked off track by every paper cut. I’m pleased to say, composure regained, I set about the task of fixing the letter head and the press kit got out without further incident. My chant of “OMG! OMG! OMG!” was perfectly acceptable–as long as it stayed in my head.
Toni V. Martin is a freelance journalist making the transition into full-time public relations. She is currently interning at a full service PR firm outside of Atlanta. She is originally from Detroit and has her degree in English from the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org