Jul 16, 2014
You People And Your Problems: ‘I Didn’t Go To Yale Just So I Could Make Coffee At My Internship!’
Here at HappyNiceTimePeople, we’re not afraid to be servicey. Email firstname.lastname@example.org with your advice questions on any topic. Now, on to a question from a young lady who is very mad that she has to make coffee at her internship, because she went to Yale, you see.
I graduated from Yale this year with a degree in the liberal arts. I got mostly A’s during my time at Yale, and a Yale “A” is no joke (seriously, I almost had a nervous breakdown a few times, but I think it made me stronger in the end). I worked really hard in my very competitive high school and in college, and now I’ve got a prestigious internship in the career field of my choice. I know I’m lucky, but I am also so pissed off right now.
I’m sitting at work and once again they’ve told me to make coffee. All I do all day is make coffee. I am so damn sick of making coffee. And stapling things together. And doing stupid grunt work. I’m not trying to be a snob, but I’m better than this. If I had wanted to learn how to make coffee, I would’ve applied at Starbucks.
This is a waste of my time and energy. I led several clubs in college in addition to maintaining my grades. If I didn’t think this internship would look good on a resume, I would quit now and go work with my dad or mom at their companies. But I really want to build a career on my own. I just don’t see how making coffee is going to help me do that. How should I tell my boss I’m not happy?
Honey. Sweetie. Baby. Angel. Listen. Before I give you advice, I want you first to promise me you will never, ever, ever utter this complaint to anyone else in the entire world. I think you’re coming from a good place — you want to show your worth and really contribute in a meaningful way to the job at hand.
You come off sounding like an entitled piece of shit.
I know you aren’t an entitled piece of shit! But that’s how it sounds to the outside world, in which most people have had to do something over and over again each and every day of the week without much gratitude or pay.
I’m not trying to attack you. I’m just trying reflect your words back to you so that you can see how they sound to an outsider. Look, I’ve been a lazy, entitled piece of shit in my day. I got fired from a job selling furniture because I didn’t show up on time. I almost got fired from a job at a pharmaceutical industry magazine because I put out the vibe that I thought I was better than the work. Putting off the vibe that you think you are better than the work IS THE WORST THING YOU CAN DO because it makes people think YOU think you are better than them! Now, at 33, I take on a million jobs at once in an attempt to prove to myself that I am a hard worker. This is not the wisest way. I want you to learn from my errors and be better than I was and am. But first, you need to know how you sound to others.
If I overheard you talking about this in a cafe, I would want to put you through the wall and into the next store over (probably a CVS, because CVS is everywhere. Isn’t it great that you’re not working at CVS? You’d be on your feet all day doing much more than just making coffee.) But I know you’re probably a very good person, and a loving friend, and a kind citizen of the world. So let’s get into it.
You should not tell your boss you are not happy. Your happiness should not matter to your boss. I know that sounds harsh, but it’s true. Your boss’s job is not to make you happy, or to care about your happiness, or to hold your hand. Your boss’s job is to run whatever business she runs, and to do so in a decent, dignified and respectful manner. Your boss has more important things on her mind than your level of joy. Therefore, it is up to you to make yourself happy, and to do that, you’re going to have to make peace with your scullery maid status.
Make the coffee. Make the copies. Make the calls, and when you’re done making the coffee and the copies and the calls, ask if there are more ways in which you can help. Make every interaction with you an absolute pleasure. Be a gentle ray of sunshine. Be dependable. Be hardworking. Take that energy you used at Yale and pour it into being the best fucking coffee maker in the entire world. Get to know everyone’s preference. Make sure the kitchen is well-stocked. If you can handle coffee and copies and calls, maybe they’ll let you do something cooler.
You’re proving yourself. We all have to do it (well, most of us, anyway). This whole coffee thing isn’t just a coffee thing. It’s a test of your ability to endure, to survive, to succeed, to shine. If you can’t fucking hack it, how the hell are you going to do anything more challenging?
I want you to be the kind of intern who makes herself indispensable. I want you to be the kind of intern who becomes an integral part of the office simply by doing her job well. I want you to be the kind of intern who gets a wonderful recommendation at the end of her tenure, perhaps even a job offer! You never know where this coffee thing will lead.
Make that coffee like it’s the most important thing you have to do. Because in that moment, it is.
And finally, for a perspective more…intense…than the one I gave you here, I suggest you read this Wonkette point/counterpoint piece on Millennials and entitlement. It might be the best thing you could possible read in your situation.
With loving, big sisterly encouragement,