Sometimes in any job, you’re going to have quiet periods. If you’re a decent “workie” and get through things quickly, then you are going to find times when there isn’t anything necessarily that you can be trusted with. The temptation at this point is to check Facebook, sit on Twitter (at least that looks useful), and set your fantasy teams for the weekend. In fact, you can be using this “downtime” more effectively.
1) Brainstorm with yourself – If you’ve got an idea you’d like to pitch to someone, spend your time in the office getting it right. Work and work and work on it, and then try and get someone to look at it. You’re in the best place to do it.
2) Be available – It might seem obvious, and sometimes a bit embarrassing, but make sure those around you know that you’re free, and that if they’ve got something they’d rather not do then you’re their guy. Or girl. (Offering to cross-dress is unnecessary.)
3) Listen carefully – Whether you’re in a newsroom or a magazine features desk, everything happening around you is useful. I’m not saying eavesdrop, obviously, but don’t sit there with your Beats on. Soak up all of the information you possibly can; all or at least some of it will be useful to you at some point.
4) Do it once, do it well – If you’re as green as I am, you’re going to get rewrites. You might even get several. However, the less it happens, the better you will feel about yourself and the less of someone else’s time you will take up. Better to take the little bit of time to get something right than look impressive by getting in a bit quicker. Be quick, but don’t rush.
5) Enjoy it – It’s very easy to turn up for these things nervous as hell, intimidated by the environment, and totally unsure of your own abilities, and end up huddled in the fetal position considering your next career choice. If you go in with a negative state of mind, you won’t get anything out of it; go in open-minded and ready for anything, and you might have the time of your life. Be open, be excited, be available. It can’t go wrong. Unless you win the office sweepstake on the Gold Cup. That tends to go down badly…