Thursday, 22 April 2010

Intern: A Definition

in·tern also in·terne (in'tûrn)
Today I was pleasantly surprised to discover that amongst the dictionary definitions for "intern," there is one which reads, "To confine, especially in wartime."
The thing is, there seems to be rather a lot of confusion about what an internship actually is.
Some companies have been led to believe that an intern is some moron brought in to do the dirty work no one else wants to do.
Others seem to think an intern is a rare breed of cleaner who is happy to vaccuum their floors and wipe their arses without being paid for the privilege.
In my experience, an internship entails making one's own life harder in order to make everyone else's lives easier.
And of course, this means getting that tricky, hard-get-item that they can't live without.

Case Study: Coffee and Tea
Oh, the amount of time I have spent talking about hot drinks on this blog. But the fact is, it seems that once you reach a certain level of employment, your brain simply cannot function unless you have *exactly* the hot drink you desire.

In my carpet-vaccuming internship, they had 5 (FIVE!) different types of black tea alone. Oh, I'm sorry, I'm terrible confused, I thought I was working at a production company, not a tea palace in the middle of Rajasthan.

And seriously, hands up anyone who can tell the difference between Lady Grey and Earl Grey. Unless you're one of their descendents, there is no need to have both.

This was bad enough, but they also had an actual cappucino maker for the One Person in the office who required a cappucino. Funnily enough, this was the same guy who needed his carpet vaccuumed. Now, maybe I haven't been in a high-pressured enough job, but I just can't understand how it can be so vital to have a fancy coffee made in the office - I would have been better off getting a job at Costa, at least they would have paid me.

Don't get me wrong, I like a fancy coffee as much as the next person. I feel a certain relish going in to Starbucks and conjuring the words "I'll have a Tall, Skinny Latte with Sugar Free Vanilla Syrup to have in but in a Take Away Cup." But the world won't end without it. So stop being so damn picky. Asshole.

Same goes for the ridiculous woman in my first ever work experience placement who would insist on getting her coffee from Flat White. Now, it was the workie's job to go on a coffee run about twice a day. Fine, she says through gritted teeth. Everyone would ask for a coffee from Pret, conveniently located next door, apart from Bitchy McBitch Face (as I shall christen her), who would demand that the intern would schlep into the middle of Soho to get a solitary cup of coffee, which, by the time it was brought back to the office, would probably be cold anyway. Fair enough, get one yourself in your own time, but don't abuse your position by being a massive fuss pot, or next time I shall replace the coffee beans with dirt. Ha.

Case Study 2: Lunches
Ok, obviously people have a right to have what they want for lunch. When they're getting it themselves. It is distinctly Not Ok to request a specific lunch from a specific place, when you know that the itern is already going in a completely different direction to get someone else's lunch. I once spent an hour picking up a can of tuna in one direction, and a panini from the other. Seriously, hasn't anyone ever heard of a Ham and Cheese sandwich?

On this subject, I would like to end this post's rant with a little story about the ridiculous needs of exec producers.

Again, this was at the vaccuum-cappucino hell hole. I was about to go on the first lunch run of the day. I was waiting for another producer to get off a phone call so I could take her lunch order. As I was waiting, the Exec Producer's frantic Assistant ran down the stairs. He was out of breath, his eyes darted wildly about. He reached out his shaking hand and proffered me money.

"Can you get [Insert Exec Name] a bar of chocolate, a chicken salad from M&S and a packet of cigarettes?"

I dutifully accepted the money, and went on my way to M&S with all the lunch orders. 10 minutes later, half way to M&S, I received a call on my mobile,

"Where are you??"

It was the assistant.

"I'm on my way to M&S, why?"

"What about the cigarettes??"

"I was getting them on the lunch run."

"No, no, the cigarettes are urgent. She needs them now. Never mind, I'll get them myself." Dial tone.

Really? Cigarettes? Urgent? Obviously not urgent enough that she would consider, oh, I don't know, going out and buying them herself?

Perish the thought.

I wouldn't be surprised if arse-wiping soon became a regular requirement of internships.

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