Write about a time you screwed up - a mistake you made.
Can I only choose one? There are definitely a few that come to mind, but I'll share one that's been on my mind recently.
In late April of 2012, I made a decision that I'm convinced greatly effected my present and future. I'm not sure that it was the decision in and of itself that made it a mistake but rather the underlying reason. I made the decision on the advice of others, not because it was what I really wanted. See, I can deal with a bad decision that was mine and mine alone. You know that quote - "Never have regrets because at one point, everything you did was exactly what you wanted"? I can dig it. But it's the ones I've made that weren't what I wanted, those will always eat at me. I'm not placing blame because I take ownership. Yet mostly, the biggest screw up of all, was making a decision for the "right reasons" instead of "my reasons."
In the midst of running for Editor-in-Chief of my law journal, interviewing for the securities clinic at my law school and studying for final exams, I tried to secure an internship for the Summer of 2012. And with a little luck, I got a coveted position with the government, and accepted it after not hearing back from any other positions I applied for. A few days later, I got a second round of interviews with a huge securities firm, and decided to keep the interview, which went well. -- I should explain that after my first year of law school I decided that securities law was what I wanted to practice. And after an internship in a corporate/securities environment and 2 rounds of interviews with an amazing, top law firm in NY (an interview which I totally screwed up by the way but that's a mistake for a different day), I knew that's where I belonged.
A week after accepting the government position, I got a call from the corporate offices of a broadcast television network, informing me that I had been selected for a summer position. To say I was conflicted would be an understatement. My entire being knew that the position for me was either with the securities firm (if I got it) or with the network. But the government position was a government position after all. It was a big deal, would look great on my resume no matter what field I decided to work in, and was the type of position you just don't turn down - and you certainly don't accept it and then turn it down. Almost every colleague that I spoke to told me to just stay where I was (shout out to the few that told me to follow my dreams!), and my law school advisor actually advised me not to rescind my acceptance because if I did, it would jeopardize my ability to participate in any other law school sponsored career events (what?!). I was terrified and wanted to make the right decision. So I kept the position I agreed to, and rejected the one with the network (turns out I never heard back from the securities firm). I went on to spend the summer as a government intern and absolutely loved it, learning dozens of valuable lessons and skills that I know I wouldn't have picked up anywhere else. But on the first day of my internship there, my supervisor opened by saying "We had a few more interns, but they found paying positions that were just better suited for them. And I encouraged them to go for it." And at that moment, I knew that no matter how great this internship was I was always going to regret my decision because it wasn't really what I wanted.
We all make mistakes, some small and others quite large. And as cliché as it sounds, it's learning from them that makes all the difference.