The Chronicles of a Relentless Would-Be Intern

Fri, Jul 30, 2010

Personal Experience

My story is timeless; my plight inevitable, and my spirited collegiate brain is itching for relief. While I am, like most students, in desperate need of funds (I just brought my two- week stint as a street canvasser for one of those infuriating children’s charities that demands one’s credit card information on the street to a not-so-tearful end), my hungry eyes remain fixated on my holy grail; the bread and butter of ambitious students the world over: The internship.

The days of my useless summer are mashing together into a one congealed blob of “ugh,” as I desperately scour the waves of the Internet for some shred of a *gasp* summer internship. I have developed relationships with two powerful men: “Craig” (you may have heard of his list), and “Ed” (2010 that is) who have given me very little in return for the intimate hours we have spent together (… men).

Allow me to paint a mellow-dramatic picture of the summer that never should have happened:

When I returned home from school at the beginning of May, I had already set up interviews and/or connected with several tragically prestigious (the word every wide-eyed rookie longs to hear) publications in regards to unpaid internships in their photography departments. The summer was looking quite promising indeed as I took to the streets. Armed with my snazzy professional off-white linen resume, stylish yet modest business casual dress, ridiculous portfolio website, and beautiful unabridged portfolio via colorful CD (just in case…) I marched from one seemingly successful interview to the next. Like any eagerly ambitious youngster, I followed up such encounters with incredibly personalized hand-written “Thank You” notes on my own black & white photography prints (Is there such a thing as trying too hard to impress journalism royalty…?) And yet, no matter how intense my effort, how charming my interview, or how many times I heard “We are very impressed with your background” or, “Though you have little field experience *insert warm reassuring smile* we all have to start somewhere!” not one of these publications actually chose to hire me as an intern.

  • Pardon my candor, but I am a bit perplexed as to why I must have such lofty experience in the field in order to find work as an unpaid errand-girl of sorts (which I am so very qualified to do, having held jobs as a coffee barista, desk secretary, cafeteria dishwasher, food server, ETC. One would assume that such a lengthy and relevant skill- set would be quite desirable for an intern in any field).

The Ugly Truth

As the sun begins to set on my shimmering illusions of grandeur, I currently apply to any shred of potential experience that comes my way, but find that the few “internships” available so late in the game are bleakly limited (and dare I say sketchy, one wonders what sort of legitimate intellectual establishment requires young female students to submit a photo of themselves?) The savage world of internships has driven my currently dormant mind to a state of perpetual self- pity and frequent instances of epic despair.

The saga of the resolutely determined student is unoriginal and overplayed, yet relentlessly predictable. No matter how snazzy your resume, professional your appearance, or polite your demeanor, never forget the ugly truth: You are, and will remain for quite some time, the absolute bottom of the professional food chain.

By Emma Schwartz

Emma is studying Photography & Cultural Media. She can be reached at Emma.Schwartz@HWS.edu.

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