My Internship Was More Like Being An Indentured Servant

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My Internship Was More Like Being An Indentured Servant

As many of you can attest, having a college degree simply doesn’t cut it in today’s world. Everyone has a degree, so getting a leg up on the competition is the name of the game.

One of the best ways to do so is the much-bemoaned internship. Some lucky bastards will get the Holy Grail, the paid internship, but most people get the beloved unpaid internship because employers these days know that young people need the experience. Having had two, one quite positive and the other a resounding negative experience, I can safely say that the internship is one big mountain of bullshit to climb. Ironically, I learned much more through my unpaid internship with the police than my paid (Graduate Teaching Assistantship at a university) work.

It’s been nearly four years since my internships ended. Having been on the giving and receiving end, I’ve seen quite a few different faces, attitudes and styles. Being on the other side and looking back where I have interns of my own, I’ve had amazing interns work for me and some lazy ones. I’ve even written about my extremely low expectations because after all, I’ve been an unpaid intern and I know it is a thankless experience.

For me, the bane of my existence was a woman named Concetta. Looking back, she is actually a modern marvel and a testament to just how lazy a human can be, but at the time, she was hell on earth.

Let me paint you a picture: the woman reminded me of the monster from Where The Wild Things Are. Extremely hairy arms, a very round face, a portly body. If you were going solely by description, you’d think she’d be a nice middle-aged woman. This was not the case.

What would usually happen was a daily call to the subbasement dungeon where I was stationed, in which whenever she didn’t feel like working, she would call up whatever GTA was working to do her work. Fine, I get it, shit rolls downhill. What I didn’t realize is that she wasn’t busy doing anything important; she just wanted to shovel food in her face which was like watching a pig eat from a trough, sit on Facebook posting inaccurate memes and talk to her friends on the phone, which were (at best) too much information and (at worst) wildly inappropriate in the workplace.

You see, no task was too small for her to make someone else do her work. The department I worked for kept everything from grades to class schedules in paper form and her job was to file said degree information in the student’s files. Being that my position was Graduate Teaching Assistant, I assumed I’d be grading papers, helping prepare and work with my assigned professors on whatever they needed, etc. This happened very infrequently. Instead, we had to use an antiquated copy machine called a Risograph which was basically a small improvement over Gutenberg’s printing press, until one day I “accidentally” overfed the 20-year-old machine too much paper and broke it. My bad. At least we got to use the real copy machine that collated, double side print and stapled them.

Some topics of discussion that I personally heard were about her friend’s square vagina (in which she went into intimate details which I will spare you) as well as her plan to use the land her redneck family left her to create a rollercoaster for hunters to ride and shoot at animals like some sort of Saw meets safari hunt. I wish I were making this up. There were many other indiscretions that I have long since bleached out of my brain with gratuitous amounts of alcohol.

Concetta also used the unpaid undergrad assistants to fill out fliers for her church, using university paper and ink, which is expensive as fuck. This woman did more for her church than she ever did for her actual job and made sure to use as many illegal resources as possible. This operation is also a gross misuse of power. She always was snarky and quick to threaten to tell the graduate student professor anytime we were late or weren’t up fast enough from the basement for her liking. It wouldn’t be so bad if she didn’t have the other two administrative assistants with high school degrees bossing us around.

After spending hours on doing things that were not in my job description, I had enough. Being tight with one particular professor, I explained him the situation. Angered, he made sure anytime I was working, that I was “needed for a project” so I was not able to file paperwork. Countless times, Concetta would ring up Dr. Bolen (no relation to the Grandex employee, as far as I know), only for him to rebuff her. What did happen is I worked for him, getting an internship helping with his grant writing and editing, which helped me secure my current job, with an excellent letter of recommendation to boot.

I’d like to think that my time as an intern was fruitful for my employers, as I did my best to keep my thoughts to myself. It was difficult, but some of the lessons learned during an internship aren’t directly part of the job but rather a lesson in people skills, how to treat others and showing appreciation for having an indentured servant do your job.

Have a miserable internship experience? I want to hear about it.

Image via YouTube

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