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Ten Things To Remember: On Being An Excellent Assistant Or Intern

Dave Wilber

39,067 views

I'm talking to Assistant Supers, Second Assistants, Assistants in Training and Interns. 

 

I got a great phone call from a young Turfhead who just landed his first second assistant superintendent job and wanted my take on succeeding. It was a great conversation and I told him that I would further answer his questions here. Sorry, he preferred not to be outed. Doesn't matter. The application is near universal.

 

1. Show Up Early. You are the new kid. And for sure, no one is going to wait for you. This is a business of often getting up with a 3 or a 4 still showing on the alarm clock. And rolling in 5 min before start time won't cut it. Don't have a key yet? Fine. Be waiting at the gate or the door. Late is inexcusable. No Show? May as well just slit your wrist.

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2. If You Aren't Moving Quickly, You Are Doing It Wrong. If anyone around you is moving quicker than you, you are in big trouble. Efficient purpose is key. If you see the superintendent rocking and rolling, you better be doing it quicker than him. Let the staff see you being busy. They will imitate that eventually.

 

3. Bring All The Right Gear. Rain coat, extra shoes, layers, gloves, headlamp, protein bars, cell phone charger etc. Get used to keeping a "go bag" with all the gear you may need for the day. I had a wooden box in my truck that was like an overstocked locker. Because Murphy's Law is real.

 

4. Make Stuff Happen. Your superintendent doesn't want to hear that it can't be done. Why? Because he or she are where they are because they did the impossible. Find a way. Seek solutions.

 

5. Your Job Is Turfgrass Management. You aren't at work to chat up the drink cart chick, set up fantasy baseball leagues, take selfies or have long discussions about The Deadliest Catch with the equipment manager. Focus. Be about the business, Yo!

 

6. Always Have a Notepad and Pen Handy. In the digital age, you may substitute your smart phone here. But make sure you have a way to write down orders or directions or rates or schedule stuff. 

 

You aren't at work to chat up the drink cart chick, set up fantasy baseball leagues, take selfies or have long discussions about The Deadliest Catch with the equipment manager.

 

7. Don't Wait To Be Told. Find things to do and do them. Some things are just obvious. Fix them. Or at the very minimum ask about fixing them. If you have to be told that "we always need to...." more than twice, you are gonna get a big black mark or a nice pink slip.

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8. It's Not About You. Pay your dues. Don't be first in the crew lunch line. Don't take the choice parking spot. Give up your seat at the crowded meeting in the boss' office. Yes, you are a genius and should be running the show... but acting like you are is Turfhead Quicksand. One day you will be the Monkey King. Today is not that day.

 

9. Everyone You Encounter Outside Your Department Is Mister or Missus or Sir or Ma'am. Period. Members, golfers, customers, foot golfers, other department people, they all get respect. Please and thank you are always at the tip of your tongue. Represent. And do it with class. Learn names. Use them. Show interest. Someone does you a favor, you write a thank you note. By hand.

 

10. Be The Last One To Leave. Don't make the Super close the overhead doors. Park equipment properly. Organize for the morning. Take out the trash. Sweep. Prep for tomorrow morning. Find that thing you didn't have time to do and do it. Think forward to when you will be running the show and think of how much you will appreciate someone like you.

 

There are more. Lots more. But do these 10 things with vim, vigor and gusto and you will be miles ahead. Is it brown nosing? Heck yes. Duh. Get over it.

 

Feel free to add anything else in the comments below.



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Guest Rodney Muller

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Monkey King! That's great, Dave. I can see it now. Intern standing in front of the Super, head down, arm extended palm up. I just found out my company will pay half the interns salary and my course will be on the hook for the other half. I'm going to work that in next year.

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Don't be high maintenance.

 

Ask lots of questions, but ask productive questions. You need to know when to ask a question and when to figure it out for yourself. How do you know? If the supt engages you in conversation in regard to your question; good question. If he/she gives a terse response of the one word variety, you probably should have figured it out yourself.

 

You are here to work hard, have fun and be a part of a team. Do not continually single yourself out with needs that relate directly to yourself. Examples: multiple changes of uniform size because it just doesn't fit right---continually asking to leave work to take care of something non-work related---ever look like you need something to do. If an asst or intern, but especially an asst is ever sitting around waiting to be told what to do, then they are not being observant enough. There is always something to do while you wait for something to do. Keep a list and decimate the work to crew members as needed, or if you have the time, take care of an item yourself.

 

Finally, think like a supt. There is nothing better than when something I have noticed gets taken care of before I can ask someone to take care of it.

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Nice job with this Dave! Next time you are in the area sounds like you should be my "ON COURSE" guest and we should do a video on this. Hope all is well with you.

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Dave a few more,

1. Often times the Assistant Supt is younger and less years on the job than some "lifers" on the crew. First, it is OK to be a lifer and have a life away from work, so don't look down your nose at someone happy to stay in an hourly position. Second, once in awhile they have some very good ideas. Learn to listen because 20 attentive eyes on the course is better than two, and they will not be attentive if they know you will not give their input due consideration.

2. Always have a long list (updated daily) of small jobs that may take anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour. No matter how well oiled your operation, there will be down time at the end of the day, while your machine is getting repaired, waiting for play.....using that time productively is good management, and you can't do that if you aren't prepared. Don't always go to the default position of telling the crew to grab a broom, be prepared and be productive.

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Well said.

 

Point number 1 is a definite leadership point. I'm gonna port that comment over there as well.

 

You Rock, Don!

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Dave a few more,

1. Often times the Assistant Supt is younger and less years on the job than some "lifers" on the crew. First, it is OK to be a lifer and have a life away from work, so don't look down your nose at someone happy to stay in an hourly position. Second, once in awhile they have some very good ideas. Learn to listen because 20 attentive eyes on the course is better than two, and they will not be attentive if they know you will not give their input due consideration.

2. Always have a long list (updated daily) of small jobs that may take anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour. No matter how well oiled your operation, there will be down time at the end of the day, while your machine is getting repaired, waiting for play.....using that time productively is good management, and you can't do that if you aren't prepared. Don't always go to the default position of telling the crew to grab a broom, be prepared and be productive.

 

Excellent points Don. Never have too much pride to listen to the ideas of your staff, and when one of their ideas is good, make sure everyone knows who's idea it was; meaning not yours.

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