Back in April I interviewed for a summer internship at Workman. My anxieties about the process were slightly quelled by the fact that I’d already been on a couple of interviews—and I was thrilled to hear that I had gotten the job. But on my first day I realized that though this wasn’t my first internship, the office experience was brand-new to me—and overwhelming. I have interned at an organic farm and creamery in upstate New York and at an art gallery in downtown Manhattan, and I’ve worked in almost every type of food service imaginable. But dealing with a boss (or stubborn cows and art collectors) is one thing; a whole office of supervisors is entirely another.
One of my first tasks involved some research for the promotion of Can I Wear My Nose Ring to the Interview? by Ellen Gordon Reeves. Seeing as the interview was behind me, I hadn’t thought of Ellen’s book as being applicable to me until I noticed the subtitle: “Finding, Landing and Keeping Your First Real Job.” Keeping was the key. The last chapter, “You’ve Got the Job,” has all the office etiquette your mother would nag you about—but when it comes from a professional, you actually listen! On every topic—from what to do for lunch to communicating with your boss—she tells you the stuff you need to know but that other people won’t necessarily tell you straight out. (My colleagues were nice enough to look out for me my first day and show me the ropes for lunchtime, but not everyone is so lucky.)
I think the most valuable thing Ellen tries to convey to us office newbies is wrapped up in the following piece of advice: “Don’t forget that you are a beginner.” No matter what, every job you start is new and different. Part of being prepared for the job is realizing that there will probably be some things you won’t be prepared for—copier jams, meetings you didn’t know about, trying to check your messages without a code. (I figured that last one out, but I’m told it takes years of practice to truly become one with the copier.)
—Olivia Murphy, Editorial Intern