Today, I wanted to post a piece of advice that is universal regardless of which industry you work in:
If your boss calls you into her office, always bring a notebook and a pen. Always.
You may think that you’ll remember what she tells you. You may think that you’ve got it handled. But writing down information, instructions and details is your safety net, so that if you get interrupted or called away to perform another task, you can reread your notes and pick up where you left off. Having written instructions allows you to be able to work independently, which shows your boss that she doesn’t need to supervise your every move.
This is the first step in teaching your boss that she can trust you with more important tasks.
As I’ve mentioned before on this site, I believe that part of my job as a manager is to teach my subordinates how to do things the right way. I don’t agree with supervisors who refuse to delegate, or who re-do work that wasn’t done correctly instead of showing their subordinate how to re-do it correctly. But I also expect the interns and assistants that I’m teaching to take an active role in learning, and that means writing down essential information.
I don’t mind answering questions and providing direction, but if you stroll into my office without a pen and paper in your hand, I will ask you where your notebook is. Coming in prepared shows your boss that your engaged in the task, ready to work and if I see you writing down what I’m telling you, I’ll have more confidence that the task will be completed correctly. So carrying a notebook, which seems like a small thing to many people, is actually a strong signal that this intern/employee is taking her work seriously.
Job postings will often say that the employer is looking for a “motivated self-starter” who can work “independently.” Becoming that kind of employee means listening to instructions, writing them down and following through with the task in a timely manner. So grab a Steno Pad from the supply closet, store a pen in the spiral, and never leave your desk without it.