We’ve all felt this way at work at one time or another. Image courtesy of Flickr user sunshinecity and licensed under CC by SA 2.0Internships are pretty rad. Here at HackCollege, we’ve got advice to help you choose the best internship, make the most of it, and turn it into a job. However, as some of you might have figured out by now, not every internship is super awesome. Some are actually rather boring. And by “rather boring,” I mean that you can feel your brain turning to mush faster than if you watched all of the Twilight movies in a row.

Thankfully I have a sweet internship this summer, but I’ve definitely been in this situation a couple times before. Even if you feel like gouging your eyes out rather than sitting in that damn cubicle for another five minutes, there are still ways to make the best of your unfortunate internship circumstances.

Be Thorough

Most of the work that companies give interns usually doesn’t require a whole lot of brain cells. Maybe you’re making spreadsheets of contact information. Maybe you’re filing ceiling high piles of paper. Maybe you’re actually fetching coffee. Unfortunately, here’s the wake up call for you: you’re at the bottom of the food chain. Until you prove yourself, there’s no way to get yourself out of that intern ditch. And even more unfortunately, it’s hard to prove yourself when all you have to do is tedious work. However, what you can do is do that awfully boring work really, really well. Making sure that the spreadsheet is neatly organized or that you’ve filed every single scrap of paper in the office might take forever and be mind-numbingly boring, but your persistence will be noticed by your superiors. It really doesn’t matter if what you’re working on doesn’t seem to be that important – what matters is that you’re showing your superiors that you’re able to complete a task by the time of the deadline and with admirable commitment. Hopefully, the people who assign you your tasks will see that you’re able to complete a brainless job and will give you more responsibility to perform more important tasks. This may not always be the case. Sometimes the only work that a company has for a summer intern is the unfortunate work that no one else wants to do. However, if your bosses are aware of your diligence through the monotonous work you do over the summer, they’ll be more likely to write you a better recommendation that discusses important professional qualities like diligence, timeliness, and organization.

Be Proactive

If you’re sitting at your desk with nothing to do, then you’re not doing your job correctly. It’s very rare that a company or department doesn’t have anything for an intern to do. There is always something to do. That something, however, doesn’t just waltz right up to your desk and beg for you to start working on it. When you’ve completed all of your assigned work and need something else to work on, be proactive and ask your boss if there’s anything else you can do. It’s really that simple. Asking around for more tasks to do will probably land you with more tedious work, but it will keep you busy and show your boss that you have a good work ethic. Regardless of what horrible, boring tasks you did over the summer, if your bosses can sing praises about your organization, work ethic, and initiative, you’re golden. It’s really easy to be proactive if you’re OCD like I am. I took it upon myself at my job last year to reorganize all of the filing cabinets in the office because they were all out of order and the filing tabs were different fonts. Yeah, that OCD. Taking the initiative to do something like reorganizing, filing, or cleaning up computer files in the time between your other tasks will not only give you something to do but it will impress your superiors as well. It tells them that you are not only dedicated to doing a good job but shows them that you have good ideas for improving the day-to-day organization of the company. 

Be Upbeat

Probably the most important thing you can do at a heinously boring internship or job is to just be happy. I know, sometimes it’s really hard to do. Every morning you drag yourself to work to do the same thing over and over again. But if you can force yourself to keep a positive attitude, it will make you feel better about your boring job and your bosses will appreciate your outlook. Like my mother always tells me, you’re the only one in charge of your own happiness. If you really put an effort into being cheerful, you may not mind doing dull work all day. Plus, your coworkers and bosses will be impressed by your attitude, and you can be sure that your boss will comment on your attitude in any letter of recommendation.

You may not be changing the world by making spreadsheets or filing a year’s worth of purchase orders, but with these few pointers, you’ll be able to make your boring summer internship or job worth your while.