Undergraduate Blog / Career Development

What’s More Stupid, Making Mistakes or Thinking about Them Again?

During my internship at the Development Department of JVS, I had been working on various projects, such as database cleanups, donation processing, and stewardship mailings. Although I tried my best to accomplish everything, I still make mistakes.

There was one time that I need to mail out around 80 heavy envelopes, each contains an important campaign report to the donors. Before mailing them out, I need to have these envelopes went through the postage meter. At first, I printed the default postage on them, which is 46 cents for each envelope. After I finished a quarter of the envelopes, I suddenly realized that I didn’t weigh the envelopes before printing the postage. Hoping that they won’t exceed one ounce in weight, I weighed one of the envelopes, and to the worst of my luck, it actually weighed more and should cost 67 cents. Should I continue printing the wrong amount and hope no one can notice, or start to print the correct postage and tell my supervisor that I screwed up on a quarter of the envelopes? Hmm… If I report to my supervisor, I would definitely be blamed for failing this simple task; if I hide my mistake, I might not be blamed today, but if the donors don’t receive the mailing due to the fact that all the mails are returned from the post office, I would bring much more trouble to myself and all the people in the department. Finally, I decided to print the correct postage on the rest of the envelopes and then try to deal with the envelopes with the wrong postage.

What’s even worse, my supervisor went for a doctor’s appointment while I was preparing for the mailing, and before she left the office, she told me to mail out all the letters before 5 PM so that the mails can join the mail stream of that day. If I can directly tell her about my mistake and quickly find a solution, I would soon move on and forget about my little stupidity. However, all I could do then was to text my supervisor: “… I just made a huge mistake…”

After thirty minutes of nervous waiting, I finally received a text from my supervisor, and she told me to buy the 21 cents stamps to make up the postage difference. In addition, she also said, “Don’t worry about it. Mistakes happen. They are the best way to learn. I am sure you will resolve the issue beautifully.”

After rushing to the USPS store, buying the stamps and mailing out the heavy envelopes, I finally have time to reflect on the whole incident. After all the anxiety, surprisingly, all I have is gratefulness in my mind. I am grateful that I made the right decision and did not cause more chaos. I am also grateful that I have a supervisor who is so understanding and encouraging. I am most grateful that this mistake happened and showed me how easily mistakes can happen. After all, I am dealing with mistakes every day during my internship: all the information I need to clean up in the database are small mistakes, and there are always pitfalls in my various projects. However, the ultimate reason why JVS hire me as an intern is to fix the small mistakes in its daily operation so that it can operate more efficiently.

It is such a clichĂ© to say “failure is the mother of success”, but mistakes happen so constantly, and in order to make better use of my time, I would rather spend more time to correct the mistakes than to fear about them.