“The only thing I have truly excelled at is being an intern”. If you’re just starting out, this is what you need to do

Want your work experience to become a paid job? Here’s Adrian Chiles’s secret:

Making tea is a life skill that can take an intern far in life – it shows willingness to make yourself useful.

I first wandered into BBC Television Centre in 1992 on work experience. My placement was in the business programmes department. I didn’t leave that office until 15 years later, so I must have done something right. What I quickly grasped was this: I plainly wasn’t going to be allowed to put any of what I had learned about journalism at college into practice in the short unpaid stint I had been given. Instead, I resolved to make myself as useful as possible in whatever role, however menial, I could find. If that meant just making tea, so be it. All I wanted was for them to notice I had gone when my three weeks were up, if not actually miss me. I made an awful lot of tea.

I found it easy to impress everybody. All I had to do was come out with a series of words in the right order – something like, “Yes, of course. Ordinary tea? Earl Grey? Lapsang souchong? Milk? Sugar? Coming right up” – and they would look at me in wonder. This lad was destined to go far.

I have come across hundreds of work experience people since then. Almost none of them has asked if they could make me some tea. It’s for all the world as if they think great A-levels, a first from Oxbridge and a post-grad in journalism will get them straight into production. Often, feeling half sorry for them, half intimidated, I end up making tea for them.

As an intern you are not going to get near the big stuff. But make enough tea and, trust me, the recipients will be incredibly grateful, speak highly of you and offer whatever advice they can.

Adrian Chiles is a writer, broadcaster and Guardian columnist

Read full article here: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/nov/27/want-your-work-experience-to-become-a-paid-job-heres-my-secret