What surprised me though is how I actually helped - in most cases the way I could be most useful was to just show up, offer support, provide advice when asked and follow orders. Sure... in some cases, my presence helped practically (e.g. reach and carry stuff, get out and run errands, and I'm a fast proofreader/editor/form-checker), but my real value was in just being a good sidekick.
It made me realize how the value of a good sidekick is under-appreciated. In general, even as children, we're all taught to want to be good leaders and then management education, and indeed most professional career development, is about how to be one.
Sure, one reason to be a sidekick for a while is the whole "Before you can learn to lead you must learn to follow" thing, but there's another.