An Open Letter to Interns on Failing

July 12, 2022

Dear Interns everywhere,

Being an intern is a unique opportunity to kickstart your career and showcase your strengths in a field that you might be brand-new to. With this position comes opportunities to learn new skills and gain confidence in your company’s one-of-a-kind environment. When I think of how internships have been presented to me through the lens of education and TV culture, I was prepared for a scenario in which excellence was the only viable outcome and perfection was the only thing keeping you from being replaced by some other young professional.

Entering my first field-specific internship with this mindset gave me an all too familiar fear of failure- A fear so intense it kept me from taking on projects that interested and challenged me. I spent far too long focusing on perfecting even the mundane tasks that I was slowing myself down and falling behind on the “scarier”, larger projects. Then once I did fail at one of these, it felt like the end of my career. I truly beat myself up about it. But when does fear of failure become a manifestation of failure?

Through these professional peaks and valleys I discovered the solution to the issue: don’t fear failure - expect it and learn from it. Each small failure I had in the workplace led to a lesson learned and a new skill that helped with efficiency. Above all, it slowly turned that fear of failure into confidence that failure is something I can control. No one can expect absolute perfection from an intern but they definitely can expect excellence- which surprisingly involves some failure. A good company will challenge you and the best way to control those possible failures is communication. Communicating your fears to your superiors gives them the opportunity to teach you something new and also shows them how willing you are to learn from them. Honesty truly is the best policy and it will lead you to a track defined by small successes rather than large failures.

Here’s to expelling your fear of failure and embracing the risk and reward of learning. You’re doing great!


Naila,  DCS Intern

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