There was a recent article about a young woman who interned for Bad Boys Records, P. Diddy's label, who felt that during her internship her main tasks were to make coffee runs, wrap gifts and copy papers. This sparked a debate between my colleague and I on whether or not interns should be given such a remedial task. Here's my take.
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I have interned at a variety of news channels where I have gained first-hand experiences of what it’s like to work in the media industry. I’ve learned to edit, shoot video, perform stand-ups, and write scripts. I was always going above and beyond whenever an opportunity presented itself. I helped out when needed and I felt I was always a reliable intern at moment’s notice. And, I was NEVER asked to get coffee. When I think of an establishment that requires an intern to make coffee runs or fax papers all day, no matter what company, I think it’s a waste of time and it shows a lack of responsibility on behalf of the company. Interns are hired to learn the ropes, perfect their craft, and explore an endless possibility in the field of their choice. So where does making coffee runs come into play?
My colleague believes that an intern should do any remedial task possible to get the job done in order to seek employment later. But I disagree. An intern should do everything in their power to learn the roles and functions of their job descriptions. They should not spend their time doing anything that doesn't relate to their career. And getting coffee doesn't. I think that if I was asked to get coffee and fax papers, I would have respectively pulled my supervisor aside and reiterate my skills to show them I am qualified to do more. If he or she didn’t budge and was still insisted, I would have then gone to HR to ask to be transferred to a department that would have acknowledged my talent and worked with me to perfect my craft.
Now, my colleague said she made coffee runs before she got her current job. I did not make coffee runs and I have the same job. So, something she did worked, and something I did worked. Everyone’s different and so are their paths. But I firmly believe that if it were my task, it would be hard for me to stay—no matter if I had a job or not. I’m not entitled. I’m not prissy. I just know what I will and won’t do. And at the top of the list of things I won’t do—getting coffee and wrapping gifts.
For my colleague's rebuttal click here: