Don’t Be Clever. Be Useful!

We all want to be seen as the best and brightest, thinking this will make us the best candidate for the job.  However, what good is being clever if you aren’t useful as well?

WPP’s  Jon Steel said it best “Don’t be clever. Be useful”. Sophocles-quote

You must become useful, even invaluable first.

Do the grunt work: We all want to move up, but first we need to do our time. Believe it or not, your boss does appreciate you filing papers or grabbing coffee. Volunteer for those tasks no one else is picking up, and be excited about them. Being willing and dependable are great ways to keep your desk.

Be a Suzy Sunshine, not a Johnny Raincloud: It’s amazing how much a good attitude can turn things around. Everyone has bad days, but don’t bring a bad attitude to work with you. Be careful with this one though, there is fine line between pleasant and fake.

Always bring your “A-Game”: If you aren’t on top of things, people will notice. Sure, you may feel buried under that mountain of papers on your desk but don’t break under the pressure. Above all, pay attention to the details. This may seem daunting, but imagine your embarrassment if you misspelled a word in a national ad!

Be curious: Unplug yourself from that iMac and look around. What are the people around you working on? What did the last press release say? Have you read the new Ad Week? Always be interested in what is going on around you both within the agency and in the outside world. Absorb everything.

The more you know, the more useful you will be.

-Brittany Bersin


About littlebrittanyb

My name is Brittany, but you can call me Bee. Creative Strategist. Mastiff mom & scary movie snob. PNW.
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9 Responses to Don’t Be Clever. Be Useful!

  1. Summer Luu says:

    Brittany, great post! I definitely agree with you. I think we have to start from the bottom up (cue Drake song) but I think it’s also very important to always remember to do your best in this internship because it’s not going to last (forever!) and we need to show them how valuable we are as interns. I’ve had my share of grunt work in the office the past month, with getting office furniture and running errands but I know it’s all going to pay off one day for us! 🙂

  2. lockerobster says:

    Without a doubt, a good attitude can change everything. Coworkers are much more willing to work with you and include you in projects if you bring positive energy to the table. Also, a little curiosity goes a long way. Not only does asking about topics of interest show that you are engaged and proactive, it can also help you get in on some new projects. Plus, it helps your boss know more about you!

  3. keebird3 says:

    Great Job on this post Brittany. I really enjoyed the part about taking everything in. It can be overwhelming when you don’t get the lingo or don’t always know what everyone’s talking about, but the more you sit back and listen, the more you can learn. Eavesdropping skills finally pay off!

  4. Austin Marie Foster says:

    I enjoyed reading this post. You write in a way that made it a very easy read and it seemed like you were a published writer. I really like your last part about being curious. Sometimes at my internship I find myself glued to the computer, but it is important to take a minute for person-to-person dialogue as well. Hopefully one day we will all get that dream job.

  5. jackiemc90 says:

    Great job on this post, I think, like Austin also said, it is so important to be curious, and also to figure things out for yourself as much as you can. Great post!

  6. pdxsx says:

    Some really good insight here, lady! I think the most important might be to keep a good attitude every day – it’s not easy, but it really will make a difference!


  7. It’s so crazy that you wrote about this! I hit a wall this weekend feeling like I should be doing more than grunt work (look forward to my post!), but then I realized that it is my job to do the grunt work at my publication! I think that the talk we had last week really made me examine how I was feeling. Also, being curious is always a great hint. I can really get wrapped up in what I’m doing and performing at my best that I forget to use my creative wheels, too.


  8. andrewsch90 says:

    This is some great advice, Britney! I imagine we all have gotten a bit frustrated and discouraged with some of the “grunt work” we have been assigned. I’ve always been told you have to pay your dues before you can move up. While we may not always find these tasks rewarding, I agree that it’s always important to bring a positive attitude into the office. No one wants to interact with a downer, including your employer.

  9. Good advice, definitely stuff that we should all be doing. There have definitely been a few days were I felt overwhelmed by either a difficult task or something that I knew would just take forever, which made me feel a little irritable. I have found that when this happens it is always good to take a few minutes to breath, and then focus back in on what needs to be accomplished.


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