Dear Hanna (with an “H”),
It’s that time of the year again. I get an intern to do my busy work, and you get college credits and the oh so valuable work “experience.” I’ve been there too. Let me first tell you that you have big shoes to fill, but there are definitely ways to make an early impact. You got off to a good start by not calling me “Mr. Madoff” a hundred times. It took the last one weeks, even though we have roughly a four year age difference.
These days, an unpaid internship is like a rite of passage. I did one in grad school. You’re bright-eyed and hopeful, because you don’t realize that every job you will apply for will require someone way beyond your “Bachelors in Marketing.” An internship is a great way to set yourself apart and help me not have to spend wasted hours entering data. My expectations are somewhere in the middle: I don’t ask much, just don’t make me look bad and I won’t really care if you leave early Friday. I know it’s not a doctor’s appointment because I still know the town’s specialists better than you, and I highly doubt your doctor has an appointment on a Friday at 4:30.
It could be a lot worse.
Sure, you don’t get paid for this, but think of your payment as a chance to put another line in your resume. We even made sure your position had cool buzz words that stand out, including “managing projects,” “oversees important and confidential documents” and “provides technical assistance to others,” so your future employer knows you’re a real go-getter.
While you aren’t strictly my intern, I can fully promise you three things: I will not abuse your indentured servitude, I will always keep you in the loop and I will make sure anything I ask of you will be set up for success. Some of the others on the project will be a lot more demanding and significantly less friendly. As someone that did an unpaid internship, I know it sucks being the one that gets shit on and used as a scapegoat.
What others may not realize is this: you’re providing a valuable resource. You’ll be doing low-level, menial stuff that is integral to our success. This also means that I don’t have to do it. Those 700 surveys you have to enter? I made them fool-proof. While others may ask you to do everything short of their job, I just want to be able to surf the interwebs, read up on college football and pretend to do some work because as you’ve already noticed, older people are the barometer of what gets done here.
It’s no secret. You may be in Marketing, but due to your spry, youthful ways, you will take on everyone’s computer problems, technical assistance to changing fonts and doing the stuff no one else wants to do. At least you’re learning this lesson now. I wish I did.
I am always ahead of my work because my 50% is generally the Baby Boomer’s 100%. Your kind, wage-free labor ensures that I can continue to do things like write you this letter because my coworkers are toiling away on things that I completed two weeks ago. The least I can do is make it easy on you because it’ll make me look good. It is set up so well, you can’t possibly fuck this up.
You aren’t my first intern and you won’t be my last. The difference is each year I get a little further away from being able to level with young people. Look at me using “young people.” I see your AOPi letters on your monogrammed bag. Cool! I used to date one of your sisters baaaack when. Oh, you don’t know her? Surprise, she graduated while you were a junior in high school. We can’t really talk about anything I did because I don’t want to be creepy, and I want to keep my unblemished HR record the way it is, but I had sex in your current bedroom in the sorority house in 2010.
In closing, I hope you look back fondly on this, not because of me or anything else, but because you’ll never have to do free shit again. You’ll probably get your own intern one day and maybe you two can be besties or whatever kids these days say. Hopefully you learned some cool stuff or at least what not to do. Life’s a garden: dig it! You probably won’t get that reference because you were six when Joe Dirt came out, and that’s okay. That’s what I love about interns these days, man. I get older, they stay the same age.
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