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With Great Failure Comes Greater Rewards

By: Haley Winemann

One of the most poignant lessons I have learned throughout my career in college is that failure is undoubtedly the best way to learn.

As time goes on, students are offered more responsibility. Whether that be in classes, having professors allow students to pace themselves with coursework and to choose project topic material. Or in the workplace, gradually gaining the trust of coworkers and bosses at internships and therefore receiving the opportunity to try their hand at a new task. As I have gone through college, I have been lucky enough to experience this. Whether it was through taking charge of several group projects, guiding myself through numerous self-paced classes, or managing projects at various internships. These opportunities were all extremely exciting to me and continue to be. Although they all have the same likelihood of scaring my pants off.

As I dig my way through a new challenge, I am tempted to think about all of the things that could go wrong, deadlines that could be missed and messages that could be misinterpreted. This path of thinking holds me, and I'm sure many other students, back from producing my best, most barrier-breaking work.

This summer, as I took part in one of the most intense internships that I have had the opportunity to experience , I decided I would no longer subscribe to this train of thought. I will be the first to say that, this summer, I messed up a lot. Every day I was charitably allowed to take hold of specific projects, and every day, I would make a mistake. Whether it was sending the wrong specs for an ad or mismanaging project workflow, in the beginning, I became very discouraged and questioned if I was pursuing the right career path.

As time went on, I was getting more and more practice being responsible for deliverables, research and communicating with team members in a fast-paced environment. I realized that I was no longer making the same mistakes. I was triple checking creative briefs, asking more questions and finding my voice in the office. The failure that I encountered on the way was my best learning tool because it made me step back from what I was doing to evaluate a project, group or communication as a whole, making me more knowledgeable in the end. While failure is never my goal, it no longer makes me feel so downhearted. Instead, it is an encouraging force that pushes me forward to try a new skill.

There is a quote from Nelson Mandela that sticks in my head to remind me of this learning principle. He said, “I never lose. I either win, or I learn.” These words serve as a pillar to the learning experiences I have faced and how I have come to welcome failure as I encounter more responsibility in my school and work life moving forward. I encourage all students and young professionals to reject a fear of failure and in turn, take hold of the opportunities ahead of them, knowing that there is always something to learn.

"Sometimes it's offered in classes, when professors allow students to pace themselves through coursework and choose project topic materials. Sometimes it's offered in the workplace, when student interns gradually gain the trust of coworkers and bosses who let them try new tasks."


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