When a representative from InkShares contacted me asking if I would like a complimentary copy of The Coffee Run to read and review, I nearly fell out of my chair. Read and review this new book about internships, errands and first impressions? I think I’ve found my dream job! I’m such an avid reader so this opportunity seemed too good to be true.
I received a copy of The Coffee Run, written by Sydney Fulkerson, last week and finished it within a couple of days. It was super easy to read (a little more than 100 pages) and very relatable. I’ve had six internships so I am well aware of the intern life. Reading it got me thinking about my past internships, how I behaved, what I would have done differently, and even some insight into my current job search.
Some things I read threw me back to my old college days when I was creating my resume for the very first time (and boy did it look awful), and when I had no idea what a cover letter was or how to write one. I also noticed some insightful things that Sydney and I have both figured out while being interns:
- Interns shouldn’t know everything, and that’s okay. “An internship isn’t quite the real world – you aren’t expected to already know everything because you’re there to learn, and everybody knows you will make mistakes.”
- “Figuring out what you don’t want to do is just as important as figuring out what you do want to do.”
- Always ask for feedback. On your resume, cover letter, online portfolio, interview skills, photography portfolio, even personal appearance.
Sydney on Running Errands
The Coffee Run also mentions, literally, coffee runs. “As an intern, you will be faced with stereotypes – such as scampering the city on coffee runs, performing mundane tasks, and slumming it at the bottom of the corporate totem pole.”
I never had to make coffee runs, but for one of my internships I did have to mail surprise and delight packages, pick up lunch for my supervisors, head to World Market or Michael’s for props for shoots, and run other errands. I once considered myself an errand girl extraordinaire, as I’m sure Sydney did as well. Even though these errands seemed like mundane tasks, I thought of myself lucky to hop out of the office for an hour or two. I was grateful to get up, stretch, and walk around World Market hunting for the perfect decorative plate for a photoshoot.
Something I struggled with coming to terms with was being an errand girl and working on mundane tasks – something I’ve experienced in almost every internship I’ve had. Sydney goes over this issue really well, stating interns should “keep their head high, accept the task with a smile, and run those errands better than any intern they’ve ever had.”
Your supervisors know that those tasks and errands are mundane, but someone has to do them. They must know the phrase, don’t bite the hand that brings you coffee.
Sydney on Time Management
“The most successful people in this world don’t have more hours in a day than anybody else. You have the same amount of hours in a day as Beyonce…. What about an intern’s valuable time? Some will argue that interns are below the bottom of the ladder because they are not even considered employees.”
During one of my internships, I cannot tell you the number of times I had a meeting scheduled with a department chair, to sit in the meeting room for 15 minutes waiting for them, only to have them e-mail me during that time saying they would have to reschedule.
This kind of behavior gave me the sense that spending time and teaching interns about different departments and roles was a waste of time. I completely understand things come up, but it happened at least six different times. And every time I saw the department chairs who had to reschedule multiple times, I always thought about how they stood me up, not about how they eventually taught me what their department does.
I felt well aware of how interns are looked at being at the bottom of the food chain and therefore not beneficial to people’s time, and why is that? If companies didn’t have interns, who would bring them coffee?
Sydney on Making Lists
“Before you contact employees directly, go back to the drawing board for some serious brainstorming and list making,” Sydney suggests. She says to make a list of companies that fit your interest and all of the company contact information.
I have an Excel list I created about this time last year that continues to grow every day. I’ve been tracking all of the jobs I’ve applied for and if I interviewed with them, as well as contact information. This list has helped me out so much during my job search, because if I plan on calling a company to confirm that they received my resume, I can see the exact date that I first applied and the job title.
Making that list has made my job search incredibly easier. Like Sydney suggests making a list of all internships that interest you, make a different one for post-grad jobs when you’re at that stage in your life.
Sydney on Celebrating Efforts
One of my favorite quotes in The Coffee Run is, “dress the way you want to be addressed.” It’s true, yet I feel some people give their appearance no thought at all. While you may think your Coachella-inspired outfit is young and fun, your supervisor, peers or higher-ups may not see your fringed outfit as professional.
I admit it – I splurged on a couple of outfits when I got the internship at Cramer-Krasselt. Celebrating your success is great, but I should have taken it one step further. I should have stepped out of my comfort zone like Sydney suggests.
“During my first internship I told myself that I deserved a new dress to wear to work if I did one thing a day for one week that was out of my comfort zone,” Sydney writes. “Every night I would write down that one scary thing I did and what I learned from it. At the end of the week, I purchased a dress from the in-house designer with my intern discount and felt that I really earned it. Positive reinforcements can act as encouragement during your self-management process, so go ahead – celebrate!”
All in all, I give The Coffee Run five venti Starbucks caramel lattes…err, I mean five gold stars! I wish I would have read this when I was beginning my internship search during college, but this book does have many tips to help with finding post-grad jobs as well. Sydney goes over everything from searching for an internship, interviewing tips, how to tackle the first week, how to be a stellar intern, and why it’s so important to follow up when the internship is over.