This is an entirely new experience for me. Sure, I’ve failed at stuff before; I’ve failed to meet expectations, I’ve disagreed with an authority figure’s decision regarding my penalty, I’ve gotten in trouble.
I hate getting in trouble.
And I hate feeling embarrassed and rejected.
And getting the termination email for my internship out of the blue brought on the worst combination of embarrassment, rejection, and frantically flailingly wanting to set things right.
Now that it’s a week or so after the fact, the heart-pounding-oh-God-I’m-getting-sent-to-the-principal’s-office feeling has mostly subsided, and the main thing I wish I could change is the fact that I had no idea I was failing to meet expectations until I got the email saying things were not working out. All the feedback I got was positive. All the communication with my boss seemed normal and friendly.
This is a trend I’ve seen before. I had an internship sophomore year that turned very toxic, in part because I received little direct feedback and discovered at one point that my supervisor had told another intern to “help out” because rather than talking to me, apparently, they decided that I could not or would not improve my performance if asked to do so.
I’m a writer, guys. I like to think I can take constructive criticism. I like to think that if someone called my attention to the fact that I needed to step up my game, I’d do it. Maybe, in some cases, I wouldn’t. Maybe I’d decide I couldn’t invest any more time and needed to walk away. But I’d like to have the choice.
So here’s what I’m thinking: perhaps the responsibility is, at least partially, on me to ask for feedback and make sure , rather than assume, that the supervisor/boss/overlord and I are on the same page. Perhaps I need to develop a formula for requesting this kind of communication in future jobs, internships, what-have-you. (Advice in the comments would be appreciated!) And perhaps I need to start developing this habit of requesting feedback now, early, before I get stuck in the passive-aggressive stream of the work world as a Full Fledged Adult.
After all, now I’ve got plenty of time on my hands to think about this stuff. My summer is now wide open.