What to do when you’ve made a mistake.

So, we’ve all been late to something before. Maybe class, maybe a doctor’s appointment, or maybe it was just a lunch date with your friend. However, I’m here to talk about an experience I recently had, how I handled it, and some possible suggestions if you ever find yourself in this position.

I was late for an interview.

To make the story behind this as concise as possible, you need to know two things. First of all, this was an interview for an internship that I was very interested in. Second, my reason for being late was my own fault: I got the time of the interview wrong.

Now, during the interview I was completely oblivious as to the fact that me showing up 15 minutes early, was actually showing up 15 minutes late. It was only after the interview that I happened to notice my name on the sign-in sheet next to the time of 3:00pm and not 3:30pm. Instant shock, panic, stress, and frustration were just some of the emotions that I felt at that moment. And how could I possibly remedy this situation?

After staring at the DAWGlink website for a good 15 minutes hoping that it was the computer system that messed up and not me, I started talking over my options and the situation with a fellow CDI, as well as my supervisor and mentor here at the Career Center. I knew it is proper and good protocol to send a follow-up thank you note, but I wasn’t sure how to include an apology in there as I knew I must.

Being polite, concisely explaining the situation, as well as accepting responsibility for the mistake were the first steps I had to take, but I also couldn’t help feeling terrible about being late in such a professional situation. After speaking with my mentor, I knew I had to do one of the most awkward things of my life- find this recruiter after his interviews were done and apologize to him in person.

The moments leading up to this encounter were stressful. Although I felt as if I had already lost this position, I knew that this man’s time was still effected by my tardiness and a formal apology is the only way to remedy a situation.

On the plus side, he was incredibly understanding and polite when I spoke with him, and I felt better knowing that I couldn’t go back in time and change the situation, but I could look forward at not leaving a bad impression of myself or a Career Center employee in his mind.

Some things I learned from this situation:

1.       Although I thought I was prepared, and had checked the interview time several times, in situations such as these I always need to be 100% thorough to avoid any future mishaps such as this.

2.       When you make a mistake, you need to find the best (not the easiest) way to remedy it. While I initially just wanted to apologize via an email, seeking advice from someone wiser than me made me face the fact that there is just no substitute for an in-person apology.

3.       I am still developing professionally, and need to forgive myself for a past mistake and take these first two lessons with me into my future endeavors. Although I was not successful in obtaining this internship, I can only hope that the recruiter was left with a positive reflection of my character. In the future, I know that I must always act with integrity and represent not only myself, but any organization that I am affiliated with in the best possible light. I have been through a terrible disappointment in my professional performance, but I have learned a valuable lesson in professional ways to behave when I personally make a mistake.

I hope no one reading this has to go through the embarrassment that I went through, but I hope if you ever make a mistake in your professional (or even personal life) you can all remember to seek out advice from a wiser person, as well as to behave in such a way that shows you have character, and to also be able to move on from a mistake and hold your head high and succeed the next time you are faced with a similar situation.