Every intern has experienced the same problem at some point: Everyone around them is doing awesome things, but they’re stuck fixing a spreadsheet, filing papers, Googling random facts about something or waiting for a new job assignment. Everyone seems busy. The intern is not. Everyone is having interesting conversations. The intern misses out on them because they’re filing mail in the back room or running to get something signed. It sucks, especially because the point of internships is not to sort papers, but rather to learn how to function in a workplace and gain some experience for our impending real life.
In order to start doing more interesting work, however, you might have to show some extra initiative, perform better on your current boring work or have what may be an awkward conversation with you boss. Luckily for you, we here at 4E have some tips for you.
1. Make it clear you want to move up at work. It can be hard to be enthusiastic about dull work, but bosses love to see you be enthusiastic about your work. If you’re excited (or willing to do grunt work), you will certainly be excited to do exciting work. If you do well in boring work, you’re more likely to do well in more complex and interesting jobs. Bosses also don’t put a lot of faith into people that can’t even fix a spreadsheet. You need to do the boring stuff to move up.
2. Show initiative. If you’re willing to take risks, accept new responsibilities and work a little outside the box in your boring job, you’ll probably be more likely to get a job that you deserve. Showing initiative in menial tasks is also a good way to show your bosses that you’re ready for that step up.
3. Maintain a healthy curiosity about others’ work. Oftentimes, interns will feel like they should concentrate on their own work. While that’s true, it really never hurts to ask your coworkers what they’re working on, offer help and learn from them. Informal work is one of the best ways to get more exciting tasks into your workday.
4. Excel in life. Go above and beyond on your assignments. Turn them in early. Show that you’re worthy of better things. (Also, if you finish boring assignments early, they might run out of them at some point.)
5. Maintain a positive relationship with your boss. If your boss likes and respects you, your boss is less likely to give you intern grunt work and more likely to give you real work (or at least more real work).
6. Ask if there is better work available. You’ll never know if you don’t ask. Sometimes, managers aren’t even aware you’re bored at your job. Just make sure that when you ask, you phase it like, “I’m looking for some new kinds of work,” instead of, “I’m better than the work I’m doing.” That can be a very thin line to thread, but it is important your boss knows you’re looking for new work without knowing you’re bored with your current work.
7. Change your attitude. All office work is boring sometimes. If you’re bored at work, take some steps to make your day more exciting. Visit a food truck at lunch. Take some frequent breaks and do some stretches. Drink a lot of water and eat healthy snacks. Get to know your coworkers. Especially if you can’t manage to get better assignments, it’s good to make your day interesting with something other than work.
Photo credit: bobfaw.wordpress.com