From College to Knowledge: Taking Constructive Criticism

By Matt Nollman

Why is it so easy to point out what other people are doing wrong, but so difficult to make changes for yourself? Criticism and critique are essential to growing professionally and personally. But for many young individuals like myself, it can be difficult to hear criticism, react appropriately, and take steps to improve your work.

What happens when someone starts to criticize you? Do you get defensive or do you examine the critique and ask for help? I’ve taken the wrong route enough times to know what happens: reacting defensively ultimately makes your work suffer.

In school, every aspect of life is critiqued: your peers evaluate (and, let’s be honest, judge) all of your social interactions, and your professors critique all of your academic contributions. When you receive an assignment, you’re graded on a letter scale. Many students are completely fine with whatever grade allows them to move on. But professionally, this mentality can be devastating.

In an internship, you’re not expected to know everything. You’re expected to make mistakes and learn from them. That said, your bosses are probably busy. Unless you ask for feedback, you may not get it. Criticism (when you listen to it) is an opportunity to learn. Your education shouldn’t stop at the end of your academic career. You always need to strive for that A or you will find your career at a constant stand still.

As much as college students think they know it all, they don’t. So when you get advice, keep an open mind (even if it feels counterintuitive). Take in all suggestions, process them, and apply them to your next project. But don’t stop there. Keep asking for help – not only will it improve your work, it will show your boss that you actually want to learn and that you see him as a mentor. Take the next step today. Your future self will thank you.

Written By: Matt Nollman


Outdoors of the Castle Group office