Anonymous Intern: 10 Commandments of Writing Your Boss's Reports
~Thou shalt not reject the menial task before you ~
Step one, donottry to deny the request. Accept that you are going to have to get through it. So don’t say you are too busy or can’t do it. Even your bosses know that reports, whether they’re summaries or meeting notes, are very boring, but they’re not terribly difficult or time-consuming for you if you finish in one go. They’re not expecting you to always do the best job, but they’re definitely not prepared for you, the intern, to reject something you need to learn anyway.
~Thou shalt fake enthusiasm, if need be~
The fact is, you cannot passively say, “Ah okay, I’ll do it.” You must say, “Great! This will help me get some writing done for the day.” Reports don’t need always need talent for writing, but they do need some talent for acting.
~Thou shalt remember that thou needs the work experience~
Having already stressed that this is something you can’t say no to, it’s also a matter of paperised work experience that comes easy. When you’re at new internships and jobs after this, you’re probably going to have to write reports again. To ensure you have precedents to work off of, and also to have it ready for future employers that are going to care if you already come with this skill, it’s necessary to write reports as early as you can, and as well as you can.
~Thou shalt try to reimagine the report like it is a fun college paper for their favourite professor~
Now that you’ve accepted your fate, there’s no reason you can’t be optimistic about it. Whenever I have to write a report, I try to compare it to an assignment I have to complete for a course. Obviously you don’t have to pontificate the relevance of your report in how Shakespeare or Aristotle would take to it, but you can carry out the same emotional process for your superior the way you would for a college professor you’re trying to impress. Infusing a variety of words, making sure your writing concludes in a way that complements its body and introduction, even titling it in an interesting way, all these things work well even in the professional setting (as long as you keep it professional in its language). You can always edit it, but the writing process itself can be fun for you if you let it.
~Thou shalt not copy-paste anything~
This is only going to make your work more boring to write and to read. Just don’t do it.
~Thou shalt be sparing with the bullsh*t~
Flourish is good in small doses, but it obviously cannot obscure what you’re trying to relay in your report. Too often, that flourish becomes empty-speak, where you use a lot of words to say nothing really substantial. It just increases monotony and pretties up the report, at most. I find myself rewriting the same sentence in different ways to make up a word count, and I’ve found that to be easy but, again, boring to read. Actively try to remove sentences that you don’t need in your report,especiallyif they’re eating into a word count.
~Thou shalt make bullet points and demarcations~
This works in some settings - making points out of a meeting is always good, because people just want the takeaways mostly. It also comes handy in qualitative reports while you’re structuring your thought process. You can remove the bullets once you’re done, but going step-by-step in your formulation makes report-writing easier, clearer and faster.
~Thou shalt not try to pawn it off onto another intern~
I know you’re halfway through these commandments and wondering if it’s still not worth it. The other intern in your department owes you a favour anyway. Banish the thought and keep reading.
~Thou shalt not try to put in too much background information~
This is pretty much like the point on bullsh*t. Try to limit the information you don’t need - when you’re writing reports as an intern, you may feel pressured to present a lay of the land before delving into the specificities of the report. Don’t worry about that - you’re writing to experts. Don’t waste time putting in data that they don’t need.
… and finally,
~Thou shalt remember to write an internship report of your own~
Many workplaces implement an internship report for you to write after you’re done with your time there, but if yours doesn’t, you could do this anyway. This is a report that summarises your experience as an intern at your company, the daily and the long-term tasks you carried out, what values and skills you feel you derived, and milestones that will mark the opportunity as a necessary part of your growth.
The fact is, you are quite the asset as an intern. You’re trusted with a personal look into the company’s operations and asked to assist in carrying them out for a short period. There’s no one more impartial, no one more necessary, in providing a company with a micro-appraisal of their culture and work. Whether you’re writing reports or attending meetings, your presence is very different because it amounts to a fleeting moment of evaluation, but a crucial one. Write about your experience, and even if you don’t give it to your boss, keep it with you for your preparations in going forward.