I fear I may be boring you with my ceaseless, distressed tirades regarding the uncertainty of my future career. However, I hope that you will indulge me just once more as I relate to you the lows (there were few highs) of my admittedly brief but undeniably horrific work experience placement I was foolishly compelled to undertake during my Christmas break.
I’m not so unreasonable that I would expect these busy editors and journalists to include me when investigating the more serious stories of corruption and murder. However, it pains me to recall how a particularly irritating, lispy individual whom we shall call Superintern was deemed more qualified than I to compile fact files, timelines and spreadsheet documents simply because he knew people. I had tried to introduce myself to a number of writers, offering myself up for exploitation of any kind, but to no avail. When anyone wanted anything doing, they sought Superintern’s assistance not mine. At one point, he had so much to be getting on with that HE began to delegate tasks TO ME! My pride has got me into trouble on more than one occasion, so I thought it best to suppress the hatred bubbling inside as the humiliation quietly crushed my soul. To add serious insult to injury, the only person remotely sympathetic to my plight called me by the wrong name for the duration of my time there, oblivious to my constant corrections.
The fact that I was initially so excited about the prospect of a proper internship makes it all the more tragic that I was reduced to a mute shadow of my former self within days. I was left a hollow shell: devoid of my former energy, enthusiasm and emotion, and consumed with self-pity and regret. I had applied to a national broadsheet thinking, rather naïvely perhaps, that this would be a prime opportunity for me to get my foot in the door and observe real-life journalists at work, perhaps even making a few contacts along the way. The cruel lens of hindsight mocks me now as I sit alone at my desk, staring at a blank screen, wondering what exactly convinced me to relinquish a fortnight’s worth of valuable socializing time for this period of perpetual despair.
I am being slightly dramatic. Yes, it was not exactly the most fulfilling experience of my life, but nor was it an entire waste of time. During the long hours of boredom, for example, I made full use of the coffee machine – which was amazing and, more importantly, FREE – and read the magazines and newspapers that were lying about the office in abundance. I relinquished the dream and set about learning the best way to apply eyeliner and to beat the Winter Blues. I even managed to sort out my chaotic inbox, catch up on the thousands of lectures I slept through last term, and read ahead for future deadlines. For the first time in my life, I became The Ultimate Model Student. At first, this was a covert operation. I became adept at swiftly minimizing the DUO notes and PowerPoint presentations whenever The Editor or anyone remotely official came by, usually with the most mundane tasks for me to do. As the week went on, though, the visits to my desk became less frequent, and I gradually began to sift through my JSTOR articles, notes and books with pride. I was utterly shameless, and by the end, I was relieved not to have to leave full time education for another year. In fact, if my internship taught me anything, then it is that I am not at all suited to the daily grind of a nine-to-five office job. Oh dear.
I feel I should exercise discretion and not reveal the name of the publication for which I slaved for no wage, but I will give you a small clue: it comes out every week and sounds a lot like “The Sunday Limes”. Do with that what you will.