Friday, 21 February 2014


Off to the Nespresso shop to buy more capsules with which to slake my thirst for good coffee. With the exception of The Wolseley (reopened, thank God) and an obscure caff in Fulham, I find it hard to find a cup that completely hits the spot and Nespresso is at least consistent and doesn't taste burnt. 

Sometimes I think the only really useful thing I've achieved as a parent is to teach Trefusis Minor to use the nespresso machine. It might not turn out to be such a bad life-skill, judging by the number of letters I've had this week from students asking if they can intern for me, all of whom say they're willing to work for nothing. I won't take people on for 'nothing' because I expect something in return. I will offer a fortnight's work experience on £60 a week for tube fares and lunch, and make an effort to make sure that, having offered work experience, we actually deliver on both counts. I've also brought graduates in on minimum wage for short periods of time to be runners on specific projects - in return for their labour they get a grounding in the nuts and bolts of the magazine business, their byline on an online piece if that's one of their objectives, introductions to all the people doing the jobs they see themselves doing in a few years time, sixty pounds a day and, hopefully, something tangible for the CV that helps secure the big job.

There's been plenty in the press recently about the evils of internships, all of which I agree with and which I won't reiterate here. I do have one piece of advice though, for would be interns and the parents of would be interns. It's what the legendary ad man Paul Arden called the PG Tip: if you've managed to get your foot in the door of the industry in which you want to make your career, make tea. Make tea often and make it willingly. Senior people like it and will remember you. Senior people, when presented with a cup of tea, will assume your tea-shaped willingness means you're a personable person of some initiative, and they're much more likely to share what they're working on with you. It works. It makes you memorable, without a great deal of effort, and it gets you liked. It works: blessed are the tea-makers.

So perhaps teaching Trefusis Minor to barista me an espresso,  or make me a nice cup of Fortnum's Smoky Earl Grey, when I'm too idle to get my own, will stand him in good stead in 11 or 12 years time if the graduate job market is as bad as it is now.  

It's important to know you don't have to conjure rabbits out of hats to impress people: it's the  little thoughtful things that get you noticed. 


Alicia Foodycat said...

I've had to teach one young volunteer to make tea and to wash up. He said his mum and sisters always did that sort of thing. I don't know if he gained much from his work experience generally, but by god we made him a more useful person.

Rose said...

Ha I think that's all very true. I love our Nespresso machine at home, I partly think it is the ritual because we have one at work I'm much less interested in, which makes no sense at all if you think about it. The Princi coffee is quite good.

I think being willing at work is very good, from tea upwards really. People who want to help and get involved are my kind of people at work- people who think they're above it all haven't quite got the idea I don't think.