I frequently tell our interns and young professionals that skills can be taught, but a positive attitude can’t. For this reason, it’s so important to bring your best self to work every day. Professionals want to work with other nice individuals. It’s difficult to work with negative people. It makes the work day more challenging, and most businesses have a list of challenging tasks already on their agenda.
When you’re starting out in an internship or a career you will most likely be given a variety of tasks, including some that are administrative based. You may think that with your background and skill set, these responsibilities are below you. Nonetheless, this is a task that your manager needs you to accomplish. The best move you can make is to take these responsibilities on with a positive attitude and complete them to the best of your abilities. This will not only impress your manager, but it will show them that if you are capable of handling menial tasks with a smile then you can handle much more. What you may deem “busy work” may be a piece to a much larger puzzle. It’s important for you to find out what the 500 flyers you made are being used for. Are they a part of a grassroots marketing initiative, where you can learn about the results? As an intern/assistant, you are a part of a larger team, and your work impacts the company whether you realize it or not. We are all working towards a goal and your contributions make a difference.
Don’t be a diva.
Now imagine if you weren’t psyched about being asked to make 500 flyer copies, so you rolled your eyes at your manager and procrastinated on finishing the job. Remember: non-verbal cues are just as easily noticed. You may have felt that making copies was not important, but your team viewed this task as a priority. Because of this they will now most likely view you differently. They may not trust you to complete basic tasks or feel confident having you work on bigger projects. This is an example of a situation that you would want to avoid.
You never know what’s ahead.
Keep in mind that your first internship/job probably won’t be your last. You may find that a few weeks/months into the role that it’s not right for you. The worst move you could make is to blow it off, perform poorly, and stop showing initiative – even if you decide that you never want to work with that team again. Your performance will impact whether you are recommended for a job with a different department/company. You will need people to speak highly of you and introduce you to others in the industry. It’s highly unlikely this will happen if you give up. So stay positive, give it your all, and be honest with your manager about your career goals. Young professionals with positive attitudes are more likely to be recommended for future opportunities.
Remember it takes much more effort to be a negative person and it doesn’t help you get ahead. If you use your energy towards making a positive impression it will pay off. People will remember you for helping them finish a project, making them smile during a stressful day, assisting them in meeting a deadline, or just being a friendly person. These are the things you want to be remembered for. Employees will then be more inclined to help you succeed in the future by teaching you new skills, having you be a part of more challenging projects, and introducing you to others that could help you down the road. So next time someone asks you to work on something you’re not thrilled about – think twice. Remember how this one small task will create an impact – and decide that you want it to be a positive one.
Andrea currently holds the position of Manager of College Relations for Viacom. Viacom is one of the world’s leading creators of entertainment content, with brands that engage and connect diverse audiences across television, online, mobile, games, virtual worlds and consumer products. With more than 160 channels worldwide, Viacom owns and operates favorites including MTV, VH1, Nickelodeon, Comedy Central and many others. As Manager, Andrea recruits, interviews, and places intern candidates throughout Viacom’s brands and divisions. She also assists with the planning and facilitation of both internal and external events for the internship program including orientations, speaker/informational forums, and campus recruitment. Andrea is tasked with making and maintaining relationships with students and their schools, as well as the staff at Viacom. Connect with Andrea on Facebook and Twitter and learn more about the Viacom Internship Program.