What is a Gofer?

Michael Pollick
Michael Pollick

In an office environment, it can be difficult for skilled clerical workers, managers and executives to leave their desks to run routine errands, make deliveries or collect the company's mail from a post office box. All of these duties and more often fall on a low-ranking employee known as a gofer. This person literally "goes for" whatever he or she is assigned to deliver, pick up, replenish or move. In the same sense that a girl Friday may take on the most routine clerical work in an office, a gofer is expected to take on errands other workers may feel are beneath their job titles.

Gofers usually take messages for their bosses.
Gofers usually take messages for their bosses.

An office gofer may not even recognize his or her role as a lackey, since employers often assign a more professional sounding title, such as office assistant or executive intern. In reality, this person occupies one of the lowest rungs of the corporate ladder, although he or she may get to interact daily with executives and managers of much higher rank. A good one can be seen as an asset for the company in general, since he or she often keeps the office running smoothly and efficiently through timely errand runs.

Gofers may be tasked with getting mail from a company's post office box.
Gofers may be tasked with getting mail from a company's post office box.

The relationship between a gofer and his employers can be more informal than other workers simply because the position is seen as terminal. A gofer is often a young entry-level worker who is willing to perform menial tasks in exchange for real world work experience in an office environment. If the person performs his or duties especially well and demonstrates a strong work ethic, he or she may have an advantage over other applicants if a better job becomes available. A gofer may also be learning the company from the ground up as a member of an executive's family or working as an unpaid intern during college.

A gofer may be expected to make light deliveries across town in order to reduce mailing expenses. He or she may have to pick up documents from another office complex or a finished product from a factory floor. If an executive meeting is called, a gofer may be asked to take orders for meals or set up a light refreshment table.

Michael Pollick
Michael Pollick

A regular wiseGEEK contributor, Michael enjoys doing research in order to satisfy his wide-ranging curiosity about a variety of arcane topics. Before becoming a professional writer, Michael worked as an English tutor, poet, voice-over artist, and DJ.

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Discussion Comments

anon299381

Remember to take time to learn about things in other ways besides only being a gofer. If all you do is gofer and you don't learn about the branches that send you, then they can keep you under paid and a slave.

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