I’ve never made a career blunder dastardly enough to get me fired, but I’ve made plenty of small ones I subsequently mulled over for weeks on end, like Everlasting Gobstoppers that never failed to run out of stress juice. I think work mistakes feel particularly anxiety-inducing because unlike disappointing a parent or friend or even yourself, disappointing a colleague — especially a hierarchical superior — can have immediate, rippling consequences for an entire business that depends on its employees to keep it running. Those are high stakes!

The thing about messing up, though, is that literally everyone does it. Your capacity for failure doesn’t mean you are terrible or special — it just means you are human and ordinary. But I know that’s easy to forget in a moment of crisis, so to buoy all of us with the comfort of solidarity in those moments, I asked a whole bunch of women to tell me about their worst (or best, or funniest, or most memorable) career mistakes. Enjoy them below, and add yours in the comments if you have one.

During my first college job interview, when asked why I wanted the job, I said, “Because I want to make money.” My subconscious totally took over!

Hannah, 21

“I was managing Instagram for a young brand that was taken very seriously at my corporate company. Every piece of content we posted ran through at least four rounds of back and forth, down to the most minor retouching notes for what was meant to be a ‘casual’ shot. In a time of social media spontaneity and sharing content in the now, we did nothing of the sort and it was an absolute nightmare. One sunny afternoon, I was rummaging through my purse when I realized that I had left my Polly-O string cheese snack in there to marinate all morning long. I thought it would be hilarious to post the discovery on my personal account, bouncing the cheese against my desk for the full effect. I penned a witty little caption, clicked send and posted the video onto my account. Roughly four minutes later, checking back to see if anyone had replied to my story, I quite literally dropped my phone in horror. Not only had I posted to the brand’s account, but it was our debut story so Instagram SENT A NOTIFICATION TO ALL OF OUR FOLLOWERS TO COME CHECK IT OUT!!!!! After an immediate delete and a mild panic attack, a coworker talked me down from the situation. Her main piece of advice? If someone had seen it, I would’ve already known. Turns out she was right, and I never heard anything from anyone in the company about it. Long live The Great String Cheese Incident of 2016.”

Paige, 30

In my first months working at my first job, I accidentally sold the director’s personal suit in a sample sale. When he (quite understandably) demanded to know where it was, all of my new colleagues said it was a group mistake and wouldn’t let me go down alone.

Elle, 25

“I am a French stylist assistant based in Paris and worked for two years at Vogue Russia (but the office is in Paris). They like their assistants to be really discreet and quiet, not spontaneous or funny in any way. So I learned to be as discreet as possible when on set and at the office. Then I got the job of my dreams: assistant to the editor-in-chief of French Vogue. I was so excited! But after a month, I got fired because I was too discreet and not funny enough, according to my boss. So basically I learned that I have to be myself in any situation and be really adaptable to any people I work with from now on.”

Annabelle, 23

My first job was in a bakery. The first day, I dropped a knife and tried to catch it with my foot. I ended up cutting my own toe off. From that day on, I never wore slippers to work.

Betty-Marie, 18

“I took my job as an executive assistant right out of college, and the learning curve has been wildly steeper than I could have ever expected. An integral part of said learning curve is the seemingly never-ending stream of mistakes — scheduling errors, lunch order misunderstandings, travel plans gone wrong, etc. Most recently, and potentially my worst to date, were flights booked for the wrong day, a mistake that was only caught as my boss was heading out the door for the airport. As stressful and anxiety-producing as the fiasco was, it gave me a much-needed opportunity to stop and review my mindfulness practices at work and at home. I completely restructured my organizational methods, developed better communication structures with my boss and have started working out daily. Though I will most likely have stress dreams about that mistake for a while, I do (begrudgingly) appreciate the incredibly helpful changes that have been made as a result.”

Liz, 23

I fell hard for a coworker and dated him for nearly two years. It ended very, very badly, and then I was let go. Never, ever linking work with romance again.

Alexandra, 31

“My biggest career mistake (can you call it a mistake if you learned something from it?) was staying almost two years in a marketing job that was so far away from where I wanted to go professionally. At the time, I took it out of financial need and felt it was something temporary, but I ended up getting comfortable. I ended up leaving it in order to explore and find my place. It wasn’t easy, but it was definitely worth it. I learned to never settle, follow my bliss, get out there and knock on many doors, even if it’s just for a short conversation. … You will be surprised where the connections you make along the way can lead you.”

Michelle, 26

On the first day of my first job out of college, my new boss was extending her arm to point to my office but I thought it was a hug, so I went for it. And I haven’t really recovered from it. I have just repressed it until right now.

Abbey, 21

“While working as a long-term child protective caseworker, I had a child in foster care with a pre-adoptive family. The biological mother would float in and out of contact with the agency, without a permanent address or way to locate/contact her. There was not an identified father. On one occasion, the mother made contact with me and agreed to come to court and surrender her parental rights, with conditions. She wanted four annual visits and progress reports on her child. In an effort to achieve permanency for this child, I had a 15-minute phone conversation with the adoptive parents encouraging them to agree with the mother’s desires. They reluctantly agreed. At the time, I thought this was great casework because I had achieved permanency for a child.

However, I did not realize the burden placed on the adoptive parents to facilitate four annual visits and provide progress reports to the biological mother. As I continued my career, I realized that such important decisions should not be brokered by telephone — families need time to process and evaluate if they can accommodate having contact with biological parents until the child is of age. At the time, I did find permanency for a child in foster care, but at what cost? I’ve learned to look at a case from all sides and to facilitate decisions that benefit all involved. I am now a supervisor in the adoption unit.”

Michelle, 45

The first that comes to mind is knocking a huge crystal vase off a shelf at a high-fashion magazine (and then awkwardly trying to clean it up with my hands and cutting myself while my coworkers watched in silence).

Emily, 25

“I recently got a new boss. He’s pretty awful (I promise this isn’t hyperbole). He was describing these nonsensical templates to me and they were very backwards and made no sense. So, as any mature professional woman would do, I Slacked my coworker, saying, ‘What a fucking waste of time,’ and yup, I sent it to him instead. Luckily, he wasn’t at his desk so I immediately deleted it (thanks, Slack!) but then he got the notification on his phone (fuck you, Slack) and messaged me he didn’t know you could delete Slack messages until now. So yeah, that was a pretty low low and very embarrassing. I acted confident. I tried to play it off and apologized for deleting it. Obviously, I should have just told him what I had done and why. I learned it’s better to be honest when you fuck up instead of covering something up, but also, sometimes it’s necessary to play the policy game and put on a good face and tell someone what they want to hear. Even though he’s a shitty manager and sucks, he’s still my boss at the end of the day, and I need to respect that and use that to my advantage. You can’t get anywhere if your manager doesn’t have your back.”

Emma, 28

One time, after I quit my job, I went and begged for it back. I’m talking ugly crying and pleading. I didn’t get the job back, but in hindsight it all worked out for the best! I learned that you have to leave the past behind you and move forward with life even if it’s scary!

Sarah, 20

“On the second day of a job that I was so excited to land, I put the coffee mug (that they gave me on my first day) in the office microwave to heat up some coffee. I didn’t realize it was metal and that metal can’t go in the microwave so…I started a fire. Someone I didn’t know from the accounting department had to put the fire out because I was practically useless.”

Carson, 27

I didn’t file my vacations properly so they were filed as absences and I received a $3.50 salary last month.

Sabrina, 23

“I stayed with a manager who refused to give me metrics and a pathway for growth, both skill- and money-wise. I spent a year stagnating financially after that, and though I did learn and it wasn’t a complete waste, I was shocked when I started job hunting and discovered I was way more valuable than the amount my employer was paying me suggested. I’ll strive for girl bosses forever now. The moral of this story is don’t let anyone sell you short!”

Bobby, 27

I’ve been a creative copywriter for more than 10 years now, and I just realized last week that I had been misspelling “timing” the whole time (it was “timming” for me). Well, being Spanish and working in Madrid could be my excuse, but it was so embarrassing.

Claudia, 34

“I was on a call with my boss, opened Slack and typed, ‘This is so annoying’ to my best friend at work. My boss immediately asked, ‘What’s annoying?’ Turns out I had completely forgotten that my screen was shared. I quickly made up a story about spilling juice on myself and how annoyed I was about it. He definitely didn’t buy it. Lesson: Slack is dangerous, and don’t use it to critique your boss. Also don’t share your screen, ever.

Kaycie, 28

I pressed send too fast on my introduction email the first week in a new job and had not finished spelling my name in full. My name is Kimberly but it said Kimbe. It took some explaining to get people to stop calling me Kimbe.

Kimberly, 31

“I had a really important interview during the holidays and decided to take an Uber to the office near Bryant Park instead of the train, just to be safe. I completely forgot to factor in how crowded it would be because of the time of year, and I got stuck in insane traffic. Five minutes before the scheduled time of my interview, I was still a 10-minute drive away. In my panic, I somehow convinced myself that I would get there quicker by foot. I apologized to my driver, opened the door, and ran at full speed down 42nd street…in the snow…wearing heels. I showed up to the interview soaking wet, red-faced and, despite my best efforts, 20 minutes late. (But hey, I still got the job).”

Hannah, 18

I quit my job with no plan to follow my dreams, pursue adventure, etc. I was unemployed for a year. It really slowed down my progression and career. I am really frustrated and feel I didn’t quite “land on my feet.”

Alexandra, 29

“A work mistake I made was not asking enough questions about a job I was pursuing. When I first reached out, the company wasn’t actually hiring. But a couple of months went by and I had a series of calls, and they told me they had me in mind for a position that would be opening up. After months of talking to people there about myself and my strengths, I was confident they knew what type of job would be a good fit for me. I received an offer and leapt at it WITHOUT ASKING ANY QUESTIONS. What the fuck was I thinking???? I didn’t even negotiate the salary, and I took a pay cut. I was seduced by the fact that this really cool company wanted me. I got there, and it took about two hours for me to realize that I was in the wrong role for me. I tried to make it work and attempted to worm my way into a job with another department, but I was doing a terrible job because I was so out of my element. I was there for six months before going back to the exact same job I had before. It was a waste of six months, but I also learned a big lesson.”

Eleanor, 26

Week two of interning, I walked in on our managing director on the toilet. I was so stunned thinking what to do next (doh), I froze in the doorway and she had to push past me to leave the cubicle. Everyone’s human, and everyone pees and poops.

Hannah, 25

“When I was 25, I was thriving with my own little startup but was in a long-term relationship and my partner was eight years older than me. He had quit his job and was working on a food hall. Since I had PR background, I dedicated myself more toward his project, helping him build the social media, getting designers to create the logo, working on his image and the company’s [image], etc. Basically worked with him for an entire year (for free). Long story short, three weeks before the food hall opened, he dumped me after two years of being together, completely ghosting me, and a month later started going out with someone else. The truth is, it was a mistake to focus on someone else’s dream instead of my own, no matter how much I loved him!!! You should always be your own priority and dedicate yourself to advancing your career because it’s something you can fall back on when things fall apart! Happened to me!”

Andrea, 27

My biggest mistake was not having an operations agreement clearly defined in two separate business partnerships. Long story short, going into business on two separate occasions with two different people who were my “friends” left me financially, mentally and emotionally exhausted. I knew better, but I didn’t do the due diligence of writing out a contract because time was of the essence.

Erada, 32

“My work mistake was working at a jewelry story at 16 getting paid minimum wage. I had keys to the store and would open and close by myself. At 16. After two years with no raise, my parents put me on restriction until I got the courage to ask for one. Now at 32, in my career I boldly asked for a big raise after only 10 months. Because I work hard. And I deserve it. Never be ashamed to ask for something you’ve worked hard for.”

Ashlee, 32


Collage by Louisiana Mei Gelpi.

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  • Laura Childers

    Love this!! I just started grad school and have had some cringe-worthy moments. It helps to know that other people have as well!

  • Nani


    “On the first day of my first job out of college, my new boss was extending her arm to point to my office but I thought it was a hug, so I went for it. And I haven’t really recovered from it. I have just repressed it until right now.”

    LOOOOVE THIS, Abbey! It’s so me, haha!!

    • Adrianna

      haha wow! Coincidently, I just had my “sensitivity training” aka harassment training at my office job, and the main theme was “no touching! do not hug people!”

      • Emily

        lol! my first job was in retail and the head manager/head of company who trained everyone told us to always be careful not to touch people, say excuse me if you’re walking by in a tight space, etc. I still think of it and do that now! it’s a good tip

        • Adrianna

          I’ve worked in retail also, but I honestly don’t remember what kind of training I had in the university bookstore. I know a couple of the younger managers were hyper-sensitive and responsive to complaints though. I had to watch several DVDs and pass multiple choice tests for Staples, but the DVDs didn’t work! (too many scratches)

          I’ve watched my female manager go in for hugs for several years at my current job. It was particularly awkward when it happened with an Indian male engineer who was working on site for one week.

  • Adrianna

    I guess my worst career mistake would be my first job out of college. I ignored a lot of red flags because, I had a lot of anxiety about money and finding a job because of the recession. I knew I no longer wanted to work in publishing, but I didn’t want to leave NYC. Book publishing does not pay a lot of money to begin with, but this salary was about $5,000 below industry standard.

    This was a small, woman-owned family company, where the management style was “if you need to cry after I rip you a new one, go outside.” The firm only hired recent college graduates since they’re inexpensive, but assigned management responsibilities outside of your contract. They cut costs in gross ways, and regarded Paid Time Off as you taking money out of their pockets. (For perspective’s sake, it is a law in NYC to pay you unused PTO once you quit, and the firm told my work friend that they were prepared to fight her for 16 hours of PTO.)

    It was the longest 11 months of my life, and I honestly think working there set me back in my future job search. I was in a very bad headspace after that, and the firm was incredibly antiquated (The person who hired me at my current job literally laughed at some of the work flows and software we used.) I should have gotten over my ego and temped or continued to work in retail until I truly knew what I wanted.

    • Gabe

      I totally agree. I felt so pressured to take a job right out of college, by all my friends that had jobs lined up, paying back student loans, getting financial freedom, etc, that I took the best offer I received within 3 weeks of graduating. It’s miserable. I’m still here today unfortunately, typing this at my desk.

      I wish I took time after graduation to explore other jobs and my own interests, insteading of just jumping right in. It’s so easy to give into expectations, I wish I had known it was okay to take a break and trust myself.

      • Suzan

        You can still trust yourself! Maybe dedicate a couple of hours a week to looking around to see what else is there. Maybe write an application here and there, just to test the waters.
        It’s so difficult to be stuck in a miserable job, but you still have options that don’t necessarily mean quitting this minute and walking out (and leaving stability)!
        Good luck!!

  • Nora

    I relate to Michelle’s so hard. This is my current situation. I really like the team that I work with, but the work is not challenging and I’m getting bored. The thing that is holding me back is this is the way I felt in my last job and I was hoping that my new job would be different. Now I’m comfortable but not that happy. The devil you know is better than the devil you don’t, I guess. Although, to be clear, my job is not that bad.

    • Michelle

      Nora, I understand you perfectly! The same happened to me…my previous jobs didn’t suck and I even made good friends and learnt stuff, but they simply weren’t where I wanted to be…I couldn’t project myself there in the long run. I won’t romanticize the process of leaving a job you don’t like with no immediate backup …it was a rough year, but now, finally working somewhere I’m happy and that means something to me made all the struggle worthwhile. Let me know if I can help you with anything!

  • Monica M

    I appreciate all these stories! Nice to know we’re not alone in our mistakes or cringe-worthy moments. But only one story from someone over 40?? I understand most of the readers/staff are around the same age but this is a time when I would’ve really loved some insight from a woman who has been in the working world for a few decades.

    • LeBongChoix

      Agreed. Amusing as sending an email out with Kimbe instead of Kimberly, if that’s your biggest career mistake, your doing pretty well. I want to hear from older women who’ve had kids or had a mid-life career change or gone to study.

    • BScrivner

      Really—an 18 year old doesn’t have much advice to hand out yet.

      • Modupe Oloruntoba

        I don’t think this was about advice, it was more ‘your mistakes are human, you are not alone’

        • Olivia F

          You’re probably right, though I came in hoping for wisdom, not embarrassing moments.

  • BabyGotYak

    In school, the Chair of my thesis committee agreed to write me a letter of recommendation, but said I should write it and he would sign it. I had never had to do this before and was struggling. My roommate at the time said he would help and wrote a hilarious letter recommending me for “any position involving a deep, personal knowledge of genital prosthetics and their use…” It was a two-page letter recommending me as an expert in dildos.

    Are your toes curling? Because yes, this is what I accidentally sent to my professor.

    Lesson learned, though! I have never ever done something like that again!

  • stinevincent

    Nice little anecdotes, but DAMN if that green backing on half the blurbs isn’t impossible to read.

    • LeBongChoix

      It’s terrible! The text is normal until you scroll down to it and then it turns into a blurry mess

      • Harling Ross

        ah thanks so much for pointing out! that was a formatting issue and is fixed now.

        • Zauberwald

          It’s still happening for me! (using firefox, if that matters)

        • Gretel Stroh

          Still happening for me using chrome…I’ve seen MR using that before…thought it was intentional…and annoying

  • EmKay

    7 years ago my internship boss asked me to mail some checks. Easy enough, right? I placed them in what i THOUGHT was the mail bin she had pointed to. Turns out it was the bin to go to shredding. Weeks later no one had received their checks and she asked if I knew what happened. At this point I realized my mistake but pretended that I had no idea, and had to re-address about 50 envelopes! Should have been honest, but she was a scary woman. Can we create a support group for people who fuck up at work?

    • Asiah Green

      That last sentence. Lmao, I need it too.

  • Amanda Faerber

    At my first “real” legal job, I left the courtroom with a huge stack of files, walked into my office suite, then into my own personal office and let loose a tapestry of f-bombs because I was so frustrated and stressed and tired and overworked. I was yelling. I thought no one was there except for the other lawyers I worked with and our support staff, all of whom understood the conditions were were working in and would not have cared at all about my tirade. I collected myself, got my files and headed back upstairs only to be pulled out of the courtroom into the hallway by the head of my office who was, unbeknownst to me, in the office and had heard my tantrum. He then decided it was completely fine to yell at me in front of my colleagues, witnesses, and clients. It was humiliating. I have never, never done that again no matter how stressed I got. Without closing my office door first. That was my lesson. I also learned that just because you’re the boss doesn’t mean you know how to behave professionally. That guy was not only a terrible manager, he was a shit lawyer.

  • Ciccollina

    Fucking Slack!! Seriously, they need to read this.

    • Harling Ross


  • orthostice

    I didn’t know you could negotiate salary when offered a job until…a year or so ago. Regrets, I have a few.

  • I got a good laugh out of a lot of these and a “oh wow that’s effed up” out of others. Good read.

  • Modupe Oloruntoba

    “Your capacity for failure doesn’t mean you are terrible or special — it just means you are human and ordinary.”

    Will try to remember how very ordinary it is when I mess up, to help convince myself (for the thousandth time) that the world will not end because I made a mistake. 🙂

    • Harling Ross

      it’s weird how hard it is at times

  • Morgan Rhe Tadlock

    I entered a brand new business with “friends,” one of which was especially close so I didn’t protect myself in the contract as well as I should have. This was a dream business utilizing my complete concept and design for everything that you can think of in creating a high-end bar; also including hiring and training of staff, events and management. Long story short, we disagreed on the direction of music and advertising, while it was doing well, and my close friend was able to fire me out of nowhere. Then we went to court; trying to get myself out of the contract, etc. Everything turned into a giant mess and I lost my dear friend, along with a large group of other “friends” who basically ignored me after the end of it all. The bar has changed a bit after 3 years but it’s still thriving and using most of everything and everyone that I implemented. The worst part now is that I frequently have to pass it, constantly reminding me of what I lost.

    • This is heartbreaking but as long as you use what you learnt to make something bigger and better!

  • Rosemary

    I appreciate and empathize with these sooo much! Thank yall for being brave and sharing! Honestly from now on, every time I mess something up at school/work and my anxiety starts to rear its ugly head, I’m just going to ask myself “but did you cut your toe off?” and be fine.

  • Olivia


    • talk about life changing!!

  • Suzy Lawrence

    I’ve been a contractor since grad school and used to think that the ability to work nonstop for 6-8 months and then travel or bum around for the rest of the year was amazing (why isn’t everyone doing this?!?!). Then, when I was 26 I had a contract “evaporate” (there’s always fine print stating an agreement can be terminated by no fault of the Contractor, such as company bankruptcy, etc., but I never really thought twice about it, until it happened). I was completely dependent on that expected income and ended up having to break my housing lease, put everything I own in storage, and live on friend’s couches for about 6 months. After some dark days, I decided to move to another state and completely start over. At 31, I’m now back on my feet and better off than I was before. Lessons learned:
    1. Never take any opportunity for granted (obvs)
    2. Before accepting jobs, always ask myself, “if this contract is terminated tomorrow, would the experience I acquire today be enough compensation?” (mainly, would this job actually actually progress my professional resume and network, or am I just remaining stagnant?)
    3. Volunteer in my community and network constantly to ensure people know my name
    4. Always be kind (down to help someone move at 6AM or change a tire or lend a couple bucks) because investing in the betterment of my community and social web is the greatest means of self-preservation

  • Miss Jeanie

    A few months after starting a new job in special education with school district I had an important email which I replied to and CC’d to superiors including principal, department chair, etc. When closing my message I typed “with regards” but that damn autocorrect instead inserted “with retards.” Nobody said a word, I didn’t even know about it until a few emails later when I was rereading the history chain of messages that I discovered my SNAFU.

    • Celina

      That’s terrible but I’m DYING.

    • Imaiya Ravichandran

      omg im DEAD

    • Megan Greffen

      OH MY GOD. THIS.

    • Monica M

      oh no!! as a fellow SpEd worker, i soooo feel for you!!

  • Laura

    My worst job mistake literally traumatized me and a year and a half later I still have actual flashbacks and panic attacks over what happened✌🏼

  • Sophie

    I was good friends with my boss, but he was a tyrant to me and all of my friends who I worked with. I became a sort of venting point for both sides. After one particularly bad day, my friend texted and said “what has your boss done to my boyfriend – he’s a mess”. I messaged back after dinner “Don’t worry, he can be a shit head sometimes but he’s a good boss”. I sent it to my boss. The next day he called me in for a meeting, he was crying (YES, crying) and told me how hurt he was. I cried, but told him I was sorry he got that message, that it was huge burden on me to emotionally manage the staff after his tyrant behaviour, and that he was an idiot for thinking his staff didn’t bitch about him and that I fully expected him to bitch about us to his wife all the time. That it was perfectly normal to vent about colleagues. I kept my job, we remained friends and he even gave me a decent reference. Still can’t believe I called someone a shit head and kept my job.

    • Harling Ross

      that is a STORY

  • Emily

    Liz, please share your tips for increased mindfulness and reorganization at work! I recently started my first real job and there’s a lot of admin work. Overall I’m doing really well, but I find I make tiny mistakes more often than I’d like and frustratingly, these are what my boss acknowledges. I’m thinking of incorporating time into my routine between doing and turning in so I can look again with fresh eyes (ask a manager suggested this to someone and i like the idea) but curious to hear your/anyone else’s thoughts too!

  • Jamie

    I’m confused. Is this love month? or career month??? I need my boxes!!

  • Ma

    I started working at an ever growing company straight out of uni, and one of my tasks was to prep invoices for payment and get the right sign offs before they were processed (not by me, mind you). I had been instructed to leave these at one of the managers’ desk when she wasn’t around, and that went on fine for a few months. Long story short, I went on holidays and when I came back no one bothered telling me (or anyone on my team, FTM) said manager had moved desks, and a temp was sitting at her (old) desk: I left the pile of original-single-copies-very-important invoices and it basically disappeared forever. We only noticed it about a month later, when said temp had already left the company and suppliers started complaining they hadn’t received payment. I had to contact each of them apologising, request a new copy and tell the client, who wasn’t impressed (it came up in every single meeting we’ve had thereafter). Lesson learned: don’t leave stuff on people’s desks and assume they’ve got it. However, since then I’ve moved jobs and was recently told off for not leaving some documents on my manager’s desk overnight for her to see first thing in the morning (she arrives earlier than I do, and accordingly leaves earlier as well), so who knows what’s right

  • Megan Greffen

    I loved so much that we heard from a social worker! Helping professions (other than high profile psychiatrists/psychologists) are often left out of the conversation.

    My biggest career mistake was letting a burnt out Director at an agency I worked for tell me (quite literally) that “social workers are some of the dumbest people” that she knew because “they don’t know how to get better jobs that pay well.” That stuck with me and almost made me 180 my master’s degree, and my years of experience as a Helping Professional. I cried for two nights straight, packed up my shit, and went on to work for two of the most prestigious hospitals in the country as a NICU and PICU medical social worker. Not up in here, lady.

    • Rosemary

      YES! Own your amazing qualifications, education, talent, and hard work! I haaate it when people generalize marginalized jobs or groups of people as the “lowest common denominator”, I’m in engineering school right now and hearing some of the things my peers say about people in other fields because our major is “harder” or the jobs we’ll get are more “prestigious” just makes me sick. So happy to hear you’ve kept helping people and representing your super-important job! You rock!

      • Megan Greffen

        BLUSH! Thank you boo! Keep rockin it out with your bad engineering self, love it!!

  • allday_alc

    This could get long-winded, but most people aren’t aware of the specifics of this line of work: My day job is in a fast-paced surgical lab, working as a histotechnologist. My specific job is to take a piece of tissue and turn it into a microscope slide in a few minutes, in order for us to report to the surgeon during the surgery. Basically, we work in tight quarters, with high airflow, sometimes 20-30 specimens in the lab at a given time and we’re all constantly terrified of losing a specimen. I was once working on cutting a small lymph node amidst multiple trays of other lymph nodes. Somewhere along the way, half of this small lymph node got stuck on something (piece of paper, sleeve, glove…) and was never to be seen again. Thank the powers at be for having an understanding pathologist, who had already made the diagnosis on the case. On the upside, I have since helped find several ‘missing’ specimens and am now on a ‘problem solving team’. – It’s like being a superhero; no one knows who you really are, but you get shit done

    • allday_alc

      *Also, I advise against brazenly introducing yourself to surgeons [or insert other high-powered senior person] just because your boyfriend is one of his/her residents. Getting sweaty just thinking about this

  • threemoments

    oh god, i’m where alexandra was, except it’s been 2 and a half years. there are times when you think you’re finally going to conquer it and other times, you are just despondent. and sometimes you just feel nothing and sort of blind to the actual situation? i feel like i’ve put my life on hold. i’m going to pretend this sort of feels good to write out loud, bc of a lot of the pain comes from feeling ashamed!

  • Sarah

    Thank you so much for using my cringe-worthy moment. I’m glad that someone can get a good laugh out of my embarrassment!

  • Kezia

    I’m a dancer and I’ve had many amazing embarrassing moments onstage, ripping my pants right at the crotch, falling on my ass during a solo, falling off a ten foot stage…
    My most favourite blunder was kicking my shoe off during performance and it hitting a candle on the edge of the stage, spraying hot wax into the audience and colliding with a guys head. When I came off stage to retrieve my shoe the guy was laying on the floor with my shoe next to his head. Felt great.

  • rachel

    I work at a bank as a teller working through an interactive teller machine. My first month there, a guy came through to cash a check. I’d already accidentally deposited a couple, so right when he said cash I clicked the little box that tells the machine to cash it. Turns out I wasn’t able to cash it… but I forgot to uncheck the box and I sent the money out anyway 🙈 After about 20 seconds of no one grabbing the money the machine sucks it back in, so I held my breath for twenty seconds praying that no one would drive up and grab the $1400. No one did, but I spent the next week sure I was going to get fired.

    • Modupe Oloruntoba

      that’s hectic

  • elpug

    I love each of these and how they all learned something.

    bad news doesn’t get better with time
    proofread messages and the recipients
    know your worth

  • Guys – please help me. I just made three major mistakes the week of launch for my boss’s course…. on social media… All because I didn’t double check the day before.

    I’ve learned my lesson, but I am on HOT COALS right now! Holy crapoli! Can I survive?
    Stay tuned – see if I lose my contract~

  • Just scrolled down to say I am one sentence in and I just read “like Everlasting Gobstoppers that never failed to run out of stress juice” and Harling is such a good righter it just blows me away every time.
    La Madeleine | A fashion and beauty journal

  • Janet

    I’m emotionally torn between the two pieces of advice given by Michelle and Alexandra. Michelle said her biggest career mistake was getting comfortable in the wrong job for two years and was proud when she left it to “knock on many doors” and follow her bliss. Alexandra seemed to have done the same thing, quitting a job in order to find the right fit, but labels it as her biggest career mistake for slowing down her progression.
    I am 27 and recently left a job at a video equipment rental house I had for three years. I was in the wrong place for the skills I excelled at and there was no room for moving up or laterally at the small rental house. I just began job hunting and try to view this break in work positively, like the way Michelle outlined it as taking life into her own hands rather than spinning the same wheel that lacked growth. Alexandra’s cautionary version of a career break hit a real nerve!