Hey there, fellow Edsters!
I hope your summers are going well! I’m about to start week three of my internship, and everything has been going pretty smoothly. I’ve adjusted to the office layout and my tasks. I’ve met the other interns, and I’m getting to know my editors. I love it where I am and couldn’t be more thankful for the opportunity.
However, I do know in the course of the workday, there can sometimes be tasks that aren’t as exciting. Whether it’s boxing old material in the office to give away, sorting through press releases or making that infamous lunch or coffee run (at an old internship, my boss liked to choose an intern randomly to pick up her order, which left us all on the edge during lunch hour), these tasks are small but important. You won’t see the fruits of those efforts in the magazine or publication you’re working for, at least not directly. But most of those tasks revolve around one word — organization — and through them, you have the power to make the office a better place to work in.
I recently had lunch with an editor who emphasized the importance of having a good attitude when it came to the small tasks. Sure, organizing the fashion closet may not be the most intellectually engaging task compared to something like research or interviewing, but it’s just as important in its own right. It’s important she said — and I fully agree — to approach each task as a learning opportunity. It’s all about perspective.
But it isn’t always easy finding that right angle. That’s why I’ve compiled the tips I’ve gotten from others or have learned myself over my internships to help cut the trip. I may be a neat freak at heart who loves organizing, but I know too that getting to where I am now – able to turn any task into a learning opportunity and just plainly something fun — took a bit of time and practice. Hopefully these can help you do the same, whether or not you love categorizing.
1. Never grunt over it. Don’t ever complain about a task you’ve been given. It may seem like at the beginning of an internship all the things you’ve been asked to do are little. That isn’t because your editor doesn’t think highly of you but rather that she’s testing the waters — true story: one told me! She wants to make sure you master the little things first before she gives you the bigger ones.
2. Do it with spirit. Making copies may not be the most exciting, but take a positive attitude toward it. Whether you see it as a stepping stone to bigger things or just a fun chance to get out of your seat and do something different, keep a smile on or at least not a scowl. Editors do watch!
3. Do what you can to absorb what’s in front of you. Whether it’s learning how to interview off of your ed’s questions when transcribing or how to (or how not) write an press release when sorting papers (some have some pretty awful typos), there are plenty of chances to learn more about the craft. Always dig deeper for them. Search for those opportunities and take as much as you can from them once they’re found.
4. Always put 110 percent in. The task may not call for it, but your editor will notice the difference between a half-hearted effort and a full one. Always, always, no matter what the task is, do your best and do the work efficiently. Your ed expects it.
5. Live to help. What sets apart a great intern from a good intern is his or her eagerness to help whenever possible. Someday, Edsters, you’ll be in your boss’s place (hey, nothing wrong with dreaming!). So for now, follow the modified cardinal rule — treat others the way you’d like to be treated or better yet, be the intern you’d want to have. It makes all the difference!
So Edsters, how do you embrace the small tasks? What’s the most offbeat thing you’ve been asked to do? And what’s your favorite small thing? I’m personally a big fan of transcribing.
Best of luck and talk to you soon!
Women's Mag Intern