I see this as an issue of AND, not OR… although I’ve had many co-workers not only refuse to do the ‘menial’ tasks, but have openly mocked me for taking those tasks on. I think it’s important in terms of being seen as a ‘team player’ that you’re willing to step in and get things done… and that should only be perceived as a good thing within your agency, but it kind of depends upon what the culture is where you are – as an example, I have a regular meeting and report I prepare for said meeting. I always used to also prepare some coffee as a courtesy prior to that meeting, even after a colleague said it was a very bad idea. I didn’t mind, and continued to do so, until I started to sense a shift in the perception of the managers around me, such that it became kind of an expectation or my ‘duty’ as a lower ranking employee. At which point I stopped making the coffee, because it went from being helpful to being ‘the girl who makes our coffee’ – and that felt very different, in a really not good way…

I agree with Christopher Adams’ comment regarding purpose!

So, to my way of thinking, do the ‘menial’ jobs, but also ask in what other ways you can be useful… some of my favorite ‘special projects as assigned’ have literally come from presenting myself to a manager I admired and asking her in what way I could be of service to lighten her work burden. Doing the extras along with putting your willingness to step up out there combine for more experience and broader, more high profile assignments! 🙂