It seems that Interns don’t understand the benefits of tea making. And they don’t value tasks like photocopying. Yay Hum! Without sounding like a “Grumpy Old Woman”, get over it and change your attitude!
Lloyds Bank conducted a survey of interns; asking them what they enjoyed and didn’t enjoy about internships: and guess what; photocopying, doing the tea and collecting lunches for their bosses were at the top of their list of complaints. Read more here.
I do think it is tough when students are promised genuine experience for their internships, but they are asked to do what they regard as ‘menial’ or irrelevant tasks. However, all might not be as it seems, since doing these monotonous tasks can provide the interns with many opportunities and experiences.
I am aware of the industry where I was working in – the Arts, that it was standard for interns to donate their time for free, for up to two years after graduating, before they were considered for jobs in arts admin. In some cases, some interns were virtually running many small arts organisations, such as youth choirs and orchestras, since funding cuts meant these organisations wouldn’t survive otherwise. After all, this isn’t Sport which is overflowing with funding. These interns were working full time; acquiring excellent skills running concerts, and they knew if they complained, there would be someone else to take their place. All for no money. Likewise the media (TV/Film) there is a similar situation. And yes, it is terribly unfair if you are not living in London, or your parents don’t have the means to support you. And I should also say I am TOTALLY against interns not being paid anything, including travel and food.
One of my business partners studied Politics at university and in the work experience year, she had the opportunity to work at Parliament – with no salary. She was doing long hours: on many occasions doing menial work like stuffing envelopes and collecting lunch. BUT she was in the environment where she wanted to work, and was able to observe and experience how it all worked. INVALUABLE.
So getting back to the survey: I can fully understand if the experience is not perceived as being relevant to what an intern wishes to do. However, you can make the experience as positive as possible. What if I were to say that if you were to change your attitude, it could be a really positive experience. Here are some great positives you can take away from an internship.
There is nothing like learning to organise yourself to go to work; arrive on time, looking smart and ready for work. Your parents aren’t going to write a sick note or apology for being late. Observing how other people work is invaluble.
I don’t want to be the deliverer of bad news but the vast majority of people have to do some mundane tasks. Whether it is double checking spreadsheets and data; stuffing envelopes; reading through boring documents…. Have I lost you?? Here’s the truth: not every day is winning £1B deals; there are many less glamorous tasks, particularly when you are in the early stages of your career.
Soft skills are invaluable to acquire and develop, just as much as technical or professional knowledge. Actually showing willing, enthusiastic and interested go along way to raising your own personal profile within an organisation. Even if you believe you are not staying at the company, you can practice communicating with others; showing willing and being happy rather than looking like a wet November morning in Bognor.
And finally, going round taking tea orders; delivering the tea or lunch is an opportunity to speak to people you wouldn’t normally have the chance to speak to. There are plenty of interns put in the corner of the office and they speak to no one. This is your chance to get known within the organisation. To network.