I work as the Communications Intern at the Eugene Chamber of Commerce. I am responsible for creating written nominations for accomplished businesses in the community for the Chamber’s prestigious Emerald Awards ceremony in October. I’ve been working there for several months in a cubicle beside the Events Manager and the President of the Chamber. Even though I am slightly intimidated, I am excited to contribute, and also be recognized for being valuable to the office. Here are 7 things I’ve taken away from the experience, now that I am halfway through. Oprah-style advice is my forte, so here you go:
1. Be thorough when communicating with your superiors – Following through is so important. One e-mail reminder, or brief “Oh hey can you help with this” is very commonly not sufficient. More often than not, people expect to be reminded. Everyone’s busy with their own to-do lists. Be relentless, but strategic if there’s something you really need to get accomplished.
2. Be as genuine as possible – Honestly it took me awhile to figure out that the whole office really appreciated me. I was scared to contribute, make mistakes, ask too many questions, go to lunch when invited, ask if I could have a leftover scone from the morning meeting…Haha no but seriously. Work environments should not make you tense or nervous. If you are friendly, hardworking, and aware of what’s going on around you, you are set.
3. Accomplish the current most important tasks now – Know your timeline and your priorities – spend most of your time working on the things that will get the action first. If someone sends you an urgent e-mail in the middle of working on another project, stop what you are doing and reply back before you forget or too much time goes by.
4. Spend time figuring out the best way to organize – Not only should you maintain your work efficiently for your own sake, but for your co-worker’s and boss’s sake as well. You never know when someone will urgently need to look at your written notes, computer files, desktop or e-mail inbox for confirmation or clarification. Organizing does not necessarily come naturally to me, but I’ve learned how to create systems and have found the value in spending a little extra time doing so.
5. Bring snacks and hydration – It took me a good month to realize how much it sucks to be so severely hungry by 12, 1, or 2 o’clock because you didn’t bring anything to munch on. And never in my life have I been so careful to make sure my water bottle is in my purse before leaving my house in the morning. You’d be surprised how desperately thirsty and foggy headed you can get.
6. Check in with your advisor, often – Plugging away productively at a project for two days straight is great, but always make sure you’re steering in the right direction. Checking in with your advisor or boss halfway through the day is often a great way to confirm you’re on track. Sometimes too, your boss may give you a task that may turn unproductive halfway through. Trust your gut if something seems like a waste of time. Several times I’ve checked in and my boss has changed her mind about the assignment.
7. Learn consistency – This is hard for me. I like to change up my routine with anything and everything every day, depending on my mood, my patience level, the degree of importance.. But it is so important, because in a work environment, consistency makes almost everything better and easier! Your co-workers are able to pick up where you left of, and you will know exactly why or how you did something. I have confidence in knowing that routines and rhythms come to everyone in time. Work at fine-tuning your habits so that you continue to be as sharp and helpful as possible.