Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Am I A Useless Intern?

Hey Edsters!

So I've got kind of a whammy of a question for you all... what are you supposed to do when you feel like your job is useless?

This past week marks a month at the Lifestyle mag, and while I've been having a good time and I'm happy to have the experience of working for them (let's face it, I'm happy for an internship in general), I couldn't help but think this week that I felt like I was hired out of obligation. I've been given a couple of great assignments so far, but aside from one or two things that have made me feel worthwhile, I mostly feel like a bother to editors when I ask them if they need help with anything.

A couple of weeks ago I noticed that I was beginning to feel slightly useless, so I began to reevaluate how I wanted my internship experience to go. I came to the realization that all internships are not created equal. Some may have a strict program with guidelines to follow that will keep you busy every minute of the day, while some of them may just keep you around for those moments when they need an extra set of hands to help out. There are also some where there's simply not much work for you to do, so how do you ensure yourself a quality working and learning experience when you're thrown into an unexpected scenario of how your job was going to play out?

I decided it was time to take matters into my own hands. No more trying to stay busy with little assignments here and there. I was going to find a way to make my time productive. I started by deciding which editor I thought I'd most like to build a relationship with first. With a carefully crafted email, I told her that I'd love to get experience working with her while I was at the Lifestyle mag, and I asked her where my help would be most needed. My quick letter paid off, because within 10 minutes I had been given my first writing assignment. She had given me some basic instructions to follow, and then asked to meet with me in a few hours to go over some basics of what she wanted me to do.


I immediately poured myself into researching statistics and sources for my 300-500 word assignment, and by the time our meeting rolled around, I was beginning to feel like I may have been useful after all. My first draft took quite a bit of editing to fit in with what they wanted, but I ultimately ended up with a clip and a couple of new relationships with some really cool editors.

As for now, I'm still trying to find ways to stay busy during all hours of the day, but it's looking like this experience is just going to be what I make it for myself, not what others make it for me. Don't be afraid to ask for extra work here and there, Edsters. Of course you'll run into days where the most thrilling thing to do might be organizing stacks of papers for someone who actually doesn't need for that to be done, but completing all of your tasks with a smile on your face will ultimately serve to show your editors that you are a very capable intern.

Do any of you have tips to make yourself feel useful in the office? If so, I'd love to hear in the comments section!

Until next Wednesday,
Lifestyle Intern


  1. Absolutely! I've had internships where I felt pretty useless, but I found out your impact on the company is really up to you. For example, my office is pretty open so I'm able to listen in on phone meetings with clients. If I have suggestions or knowledge to offer, sometimes I'll email my boss and let her know. I used to be scared to do stuff like that, but so far my comments have been much appreciated and actually pretty utilized! In my free time I also do more research on the company I'm with, or their clients. That extra knowledge almost always comes in handy!

    1. Thanks so much for the tips! Staying busy is definitely a priority, but I sometimes hit a wall when it comes to what I should be doing. I'm definitely going to give these a try, thanks!