Friday, August 5, 2011

3 Ways To Make Yourself Useful On A Slow Day

Happy Friday, Edsters!

One great thing about Fridays is that no matter how hectic the week is (and the past few have been very, very hectic. Stopping and smelling the roses does not seem to play a major role in the lives of magazine editors), Fridays are a little more relaxed. A special brand of quietness sweeps across the office; sunlight seems to stream more meaningfully through the windows.

And no one wants to do a damn thing, people leave early, and the interns get bored.

This Friday, I wasn’t exactly complaining. I like contributing as much as the next person, but after three weeks in a row that I could swear were all closing weeks, it wasn’t exactly killing me to scrunch down in my cubicle with a few old issues of the Mag and a coffee expensed to the Mag’s account.

It was killing one of our other interns, though. She must have swung by my desk fifteen times trying to brainstorm projects for herself. Though I would have been one thousand percent content to just breathe for the first time all week and read my magazine, after I’d finished my cup of coffee and felt less cranky, I gained a little respect for her initiative.

But how do you make yourself useful when there’s really, really nothing to do?

1. Organize. Remove abandoned documents from the printer. Straighten out the supply closet. Throw out the seven cups of coffee “decorating” your desk. Label cabinets. Organize the many shelves of magazines stationed around the office. Ask for old Excel spreadsheets to update. If an editor is out of the office on vacation, ask his or her assistant if they’d like help straightening things up. Et cetera. Ad infinitum.

2. Deliver mail. Last week, my boss was incredibly stressed-out, so I got into the habit of swinging by her mailbox once an hour so I could drop her mail off on her desk for her. Halfway through the week, she sent all the interns an email, thanking whoever the “rock star” was who delivered her mail. I thought responding to the email would be too obnoxious (“It was me, by the way. I’m the rock star. You’re welcome”) – after all, my job is to make her life easier, not to show off or to kiss her butt.

3. Read old issues of the magazine. I wasn’t just being lazy the other day. I take notes on old stories and try to brainstorm new ways to cover them. My great white hope is that this exercise will lead me to a brilliant idea of my very own that I can pitch. After all, as an intern, I’m not just a worker – I’m a student. I’m still learning. No shame in doing my homework during study break.

What about you, Edsters – can you think of any other ways to get promoted from intern to rock star during the duller moments?

Rock on,

Features Intern

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