While regular readers of my blogs might wonder why I’m talking about coffee here (shouldn’t I be discussing it on FooDee?), it’s quite simple. I’m talking about young journalism students making tea and coffee in a newsroom while on work experience.
When I was doing my Masters, it was drilled into my mind that when I go for work experience opportunities, I should make sure that I’m not just making tea and coffee for the journalists there. All well and good by the way; I will stand by that advice and tell any new journalists looking for their break that making coffee or tea is not the only thing you should be doing.
The problem with me and a few other friends was that because of this caveat, I was petrified of ever making any tea or coffee for anyone, thinking that once I did, I’d be relegated to the kitchen forever. I also had this thought that perhaps making tea or coffee was beneath me.
I take it all back.
While I was at my work experience, no one asked me to make coffee. No one asked me to make tea. In fact, they asked ME if I wanted coffee or tea and could they bring some for me. It didn’t matter whether they were editors, or reporters, or senior journalists or editorial assistants. If one person went to the kitchen to get tea/coffee, they’d ask everyone if they wanted some. And they’d go and get it.
Now that I’ve started my job, I regularly go and make tea/coffee for people. It’s a great way to talk to people, it’s a great way to know more about people (who takes black, how much sugar they like!) and you become part of the group. It’s not menial, it’s not a chore. Think of it as a bonding ritual in a way.
My advice to journalists starting out is: offer to make the tea or coffee. Don’t shy away from it. And take all the tasks they give you. Sometimes people may want to test you to see what you can handle before giving you real work. I was extremely lucky in my work experience stints that I was given a lot of writing work as well as behind-the-scenes work, so I never had to face any “make-tea-only” jobs. If you end up in that situation, it’s not good, so definitely speak to someone senior about it because you’re there to learn about all aspects of journalism.
But don’t worry about making tea or coffee…just do it.