*It’s that time of the summer again* — where you want to smack that annoying co-worker with a stapler, run out of the office and go rollerblading with all the high school students lucky enough not to have a summer job. You’re overworked, underpaid, and most of all, fed up with doing mindless, menial work. Wasn’t the point of going to college that you wouldn’t have to be the office gopher forever?
A few tips to help get through the rest of the summer:
*Keep your eyes on the prize* No matter how tempting it may be to tell off your boss, you don’t want a bad summer to sabotage your career down the road. At the very least, make sure there’s someone from your current job that you can use as a reference in the future.
*Take initiative (even with menial tasks)* Having a reputation for spotting things that need to be done and taking care of them without being asked goes a long way. Even if the only person who noticed that you took out the trash or refilled the printer paper on your own initiative is the secretary, your reputation will trickle up to management eventually.
*Don’t let the quality of your work slip* Just because the filing and the photocopying could be done by a monkey doesn’t mean you should aspire to monkey-level quality. If your boss finds a bunch of pages missing from your photocopy job, she’s not going to think, “This person is clearly overqualified. I should get her to help me on that presentation for our biggest client.”
*Offer to extend current projects in interesting ways* Sometimes the best way to get more substantive work is to use an administrative task as a starting point. If your last project was to proofread a grant proposal, offer to organize the organization’s past grant proposals, research other potential grant opportunities, or draft a new proposal.
*Bring your unique skills to bear* Your talents from home and newly acquired college skills can be tremendously useful in the office. If you have a flair for graphic design, offer to give the most recent brochure a facelift. If you speak Spanish, offer to research business opportunities in South America. If you’re good with computers, offer to fix a bumbling co-worker’s tech problem. (After all, you only have to be more tech savy than your co-worker to be helpful!)
*Remind them of what you want to get out of the summer* Odds are, if you’re an intern, you were lured to your job on the promise that you would get plenty of learning opportunities and exposure to the industry. If these opportunities haven’t materialized, ask for them: “Hey, would it be possible for me to sit in on a client meeting at some point?” or “I’d love to get some exposure to the marketing department before the end of the summer. Is there a way we can work that out?”
_Submitted by, Liz Tippet, law student at Harvard and author of “Real College: The Essential Guide to Student Life”._