Taking criticism is never an easy task, for anyone. Internships are a learning experience and mistakes are common. When you make a mistake it is not unheard of for your boss to criticize your actions and expect better in the future. The trick to taking criticism at your internship is to handle yourself with grace and composure. Here are a few tips for handling criticism at your internship.
1. Accept that you are NOT perfect
Everyone makes mistakes! Especially interns, because lets face it we are still new to the business world and its expectations. Making mistakes is a part of life. If you are too focused on what you think is “perfection” at the office, you will likely end up making simple mistakes. For those of us that are Type A perfectionists this tip may be hard to take. Just remember, sometimes we are our own worst critics. This is a learning experience and no one at that office expects you to be perfect. It is okay to relax a little bit and not worry so much about being perfect, because at the end of the day nobody is perfect.
2. Stay positive
Sometimes it is hard to keep a smile plastered on your face when your boss is frustrated with your work. However, if you stay calm and remain positive your boss will take note. They will respect the fact that you are continuing to work hard and maintain a positive attitude even when criticized. If you leave the conversation feeling very upset and in need of a good cry, take it outside. It is okay to be upset but do not have a break down at your desk. This will only make you look immature. Take your lunch break a little early and head somewhere private where you can take a few minutes for yourself. At the end of your internship your boss will not remember the mistakes you made, but rather how you handled yourself afterwards. So keep calm and smile on!
3. Don’t take it personally
Remember, feedback from your boss is not a personal attack. Your boss is your mentor, and they want you to improve. This also means that not everything you do will be rewarded with a gold star on your forehead. The advice and criticism your boss extends to you is ultimately for your best interest. If you choose to take the criticism personally you will likely maintain a bad attitude and not focus on ways to improve your work. Accept the feedback as it is intended, to help you.
4. Listen Up!
Your boss is telling you this for a reason. If they didn’t care about you they wouldn’t even bother to give you feedback. Take notes and ask questions. Remember that your boss has more experience than you and worked their way up to their current position in the company. So remember to listen carefully. Being attentive shows that you care and your boss will respect the fact that you are continually professional and open to feedback.
5. Double, Triple check your work
People make mistakes; I mean we are only human! However, if you continually make the same mistakes your boss will likely get increasingly frustrated. Before emailing your work or printing out a copy for them, double-check your work! After spending so much time on a project it is not surprising that your eyes may miss a misspelled word or grammatical error. Double and triple checking your work will help to ensure that you don’t make unnecessary mistakes. So remember, proofread, proofread, proofread! Another helpful tip is to read your work out loud. Often times you will catch grammatical slipups you hadn’t noticed before.
6. What did you learn?
Remember that criticism is ultimately for your benefit. Reflect on what your boss said and think about what you can take away from your experience. The whole point of constructive criticism is to learn from your mistakes. Internships are a learning experience so soak up all the advice and criticism that you can.
This blog post was written by Allison Shook, Campus Ambassador from Bucknell University.