Some Tough Love On Interning

Screen Shot 2015-08-12 at 12.14.24 PMThere is absolutely nothing glamorous about interning. I don’t care if you are in a plush, trendy Google-esque office, working for an awesome start-up, or in a shack down by the river, it’s tough. If anyone tells you otherwise, they are, well, a dirty liar. 

Hence why my mind is being boggled that interns are actually “raging against the machine,” so to speak, and suing their employers for wrongful treatment. Uhhh what? I thought interning was about gaining experience and working your ass off until your boss decides you are awesome enough to cut you a paycheck? No? Now all of a sudden college kids have money to hire lawyers to take down the Olsen twins? Good God, I barely had money for a Diet Coke whilst interning.

I interned at a magazine in college, unpaid (although I believe I received college credit), and would have done ANYTHING for them to hire me. If my boss wanted me to run up and down Broad Street in a chicken suit squawking, I probably would have. That is how hungry I was. While no, I didn’t have to work crazy hours, I know for a fact I would have if they asked … because you want to know why? I didn’t want to graduate without a job and I loved what I was doing (although … spoiler alert … I totally didn’t have a job when I graduated … whomp whomp). 

While I’m not for brands and companies abusing “free labor” and taking advantage of college kids, I’m also not really down with interns suing their employer for things like “working crazy hours,” and “exhaustion.” Because that just isn’t real life. If you’re burnt out, you take a mental health day, shut the hell up, and get back to the grind. Or … drink wine. Lots of it. We all have our ways of coping. A law suit is not one of them, at least not for me.

So future interns of America, I feel like I’ve been around the block once or twice interning and being in the “business rhelm” of life that I can offer up some advice that will lead you to NOT, one day, sue your employer. Behold …

1. Check your passions: I worked my face off to get the internship of my dreams. And getting the call that I got the position is still, to this day, one of the most blissful moments in my existence so far (wait … is that sad?). Interning is about figuring out what the hell you want to do with your life. If you’re just applying for the internship because you feel like you have to, or because Mommy and Daddy are forcing you to, it most likely won’t end well slash it will be just a line item on your resume that will, overtime, dissolve. Don’t waste your time.

2. Know your limits: If your internship is making your grades slip and you feel yourself going insane because of all the work and long hours… maybe it’s time to bow out early. Not everyone is a super human beast who can run on caffeine, fear, and adrenaline (myself included). After a few weeks, there is NOTHING wrong with being like, “meh this isn’t for me,” and gracefully resigning. They will respect you for your honesty and not wasting their time. Know there are bazillions of internships out there. It just takes some time to find the right one for you (like literally everything else in life). 

3. Know your role: You’re an intern. If you’re lucky, you’ll get to write a 250 word blurb in the magazine, or get to attend a cool event … maybe. Mostly you are there to pick up the slack that the big wigs can’t handle or don’t have time for. Edits, mind-numbing research, highlighting shit, faxing shit, running around the city like a mad man (I used to have to call restaurants and have the hostess spell out the restaurant’s name for me so I had proof it was correct). If you go in thinking you’re Anna Wintour status, you will fail. Walk in like a soldier unable to bitch or eye roll, ready to take your bosses dog to the fucking groomers like a BOSS. The more you are open to, the more success you will have. Head nod and smile. I repeat. Head nod and smile. 

So there you have it. If you get to the point where you’re dehydrated and have to be put in one of those “Lindsay Lohan spas” for exhaustion because of an internship, well, I don’t feel bad for you. This is your time to get some experience. Don’t waste it with a bunch of asshats who think they can take advantage of you because you’re young. But at the same time, don’t sue them. For the love. From me to you: NO ONE will want ANYTHING to do with you EVER if your name is all over the interwebs as that person who sued the Olsen twins. 

Interning is about hard work, sacrifice, and gaining some skills that will help you down the road (umm again, like everything else in life). They don’t call it “paying your dues” for nothing. But let me tell you something, if you’re exhausted and overworked in the real world, no law suit can save you. 

Man up, kids. You got this. 

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One thought on “Some Tough Love On Interning

  1. Aww, as your former intern partner in crime this warmed my little heart. Fact checkers 4 lyfe.

    That said, here’s my two cents: if you make somebody’s life easier they’re more likely to keep you around. It’s how you intern, it’s how you work, it’s how you build friendships. If having you around as an intern/employee/friend/contact makes their life easier they’re likely to help you out. That means interning includes menial dumb boring work that nobody wants to do. It sucks a lot because it includes fact checking (EYE ROLLLLL) but it’s so useful.

    ALSO! That dumb menial work is a building block! You learn stuff that helps you do your real job later. We learned to stalk, which is a great skill in journalism and in PR. The magazine we worked at taught me ridiculously valuable stuff under the guise of making me do dumb crap, and for that I’m forever grateful. So sure, not getting paid while my engineering friends collected a tidy sum ever semester sucked, but I learned things that have helped me a ton throughout the biz.

    TLDR: INTERNING. SO GOOD.

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