For those of you who are getting prepared to start an internship or your first “real” job soon, I have some helpful advice I was recently given that you absolutely need to hear before doing so. No matter what field you plan to be in, or what position you start at, you will most certainly be given responsibilities that may seem annoying at first or, perhaps, “beneath you”. I would like to share with you a story I was told recently when interviewing a popular radio host and blogger named Dave Ryan. Hopefully his story will change your perspective about what to expect when starting out in a new job.
You Want Me to Do What?!
Dave’s first job was as an intern at a radio station and his goal was to work his way up and become a radio star in no time. He was looking forward to learning all the concepts a radio host/producer gets to do. On his first day, Dave’s boss began showing him around the station and then led him outside the station near the giant radio antenna. As Dave tells it, “My boss, Mr. Boles, explained to me that one of my duties as an intern at the station would be to feed Rita”. Rita was a goat that the radio station used to keep the grass trimmed around all the high voltage equipment that sat at the foot of the antenna (this radio station was in the Midwest, as you may have guessed by the fact that there was a goat there). Dave said to me that he remembered thinking, “There is no way in hell a radio star like me is going to feed a goat. I went home that night and told my dad in disgust about how I was asked to take care of a barnyard animal as part of my glamorous new radio job.”
Some Perspective, Please
To his surprise, his dad told Dave plain and simple, “Well, if you don’t do it they’ll find someone else who will. And since you have been asked to do it, and if you really want to keep this job, then you might as well learn to like it.” After Dave took some time to think about it, he said, “I came to the realization that feeding a goat was a small price to pay for getting my first real break in radio and a chance at my dream job.” So, he fed the goat. Dave said he never complained or had a bad attitude about feeding Rita, and finally got used to it and actually didn’t mind doing it.
Six months later, when a better radio job opened up, Mr. Boles recommended Dave for it and he landed the new job. Doing what was expected of him as an employee without complaining did not go unnoticed, and actually paid off for him in the end.
That’s really the main piece of advice he gave me and that I can give to you: Do what is asked of you no matter how you feel about it. No one is irreplaceable, especially an intern or someone just beginning a new job. As I said earlier, no matter what level you start at, you might be tasked with assignments you may see as demeaning or irrelevant. But the ultimate takeaway here is that you should see the bigger picture. As Dave told me, “You might not ever be asked to feed a goat in your career, but that goat will appear in some form or another. You may be asked to wash the company van or work on a holiday. You can complain and have an attitude about it, or you can just do it and hope that the right people take notice.” In short, just feed the goat.
By: Brian Saglimben