One of the most loathsome, least enjoyable parts of interning is phone duty. You are the first line of defense between the public and your office, which means there's MOUNTAINS of pressure. Be professional. Be courteous. Be on top of things. Know the phone number of your office in case you're asked or have to leave a message. There's nothing worse than having left a successful, professional sounding message, and then you go to leave your number and you're like "Um, er, 202...um...I'm sorry, let me just...er...I'm trying to look up...um...892...er.............................................................I apologize-0000!!" as you frantically scramble to find the post-it note where you'd written it down a million years ago.
Then there's the whole next issue of taking messages. Oh, man. Usually it's okay...you're with it enough to take down at least the caller's first name, and kind of generally remember who they're with. At least enough that you can give the message to your boss and they can figure it out. But sometimes it's just information overload, and it's all you can do to get down some initials. I look back at the end of the day at some of the messages I've taken and they're all but unintelligible.
Particularly embarrassing though is when you're working with an accented individual, and for whatever reason, you just can't for the life of you understand them. You can only ask someone to repeat their name so many times before it's just unacceptable. It's just awkward for everyone involved.
Then there are the crazy callers who just baffle you. There was the one woman who just wanted me to "Lemme as'you a queshon!" Um...shoot. Then there was the woman who wanted to schedule a manicure and pedicure. I just wanted to say that we do many things, but manis and pedis aren't among the services available.
Maybe part of my aversion to phone-answering comes from the fact that when the phone rings, Vivaldi's "Spring" plays in electronic wonder, while simultaneously the second phone rings in a normal (though earsplitting) tone. So I answer the phone after nearly suffering a coronary. My adrenaline is gushing as a result of being startled out of my wits, and I'm finding it hard to pay attention to the speaker because mostly I'm trying to calm my heart rate so I can hear over its pounding.
So what's a girl to do? Be brave, be confident, be professional. YOU ARE INTERN! And if all else fails, wing it. "Hello, this is Jenny speaking, how may I help you?" (The longer your intro, the more time you have to pull it together...)