Internship: True Story, Part IV – False Promises

I’m not sure the title of this post fits the content – maybe instead of broken promises, I should have used the term “false expectations”.

During my interview at Saveur, I was assured that I would leave my internship with a “portfolio of pieces that you can show to future employers”. I was instructed to put the title “Editorial Assistant” in the signature of my email because “that’s what you are; that’s what job you do”. The girls interviewing me encouraged me to express my interest in writing when assignments came up and to feel free to share my ideas.

However, when I actually got to my cubicle on that first day, I found that the work load was mainly HTML coding, website design, and other tasks that might be better executed by an IT professional or design team member. And while I have some minimal coding and design background, many of the tasks asked of me would have been better executed had I gone through some training, regarding their content management system, first.

As time passed, though, I did express my interest in writing and was allowed the opportunity to write several “One Good Find” pieces and work closely with the “Sites We Love” segment. My happiness was short lived, though and I soon found myself back in a sea of coding, design work, and Photoshop nightmares.

Listen, I know what the role of an intern is: your job is to assist. However, is it not also the intern’s job to learn? Interns are not merely there to pick up the slack of a company’s team and finish all the things that haven’t been completed – we are not faceless, nameless peons on which you can unload your frustrations, anxieties and other miscellaneous emotions for which they are not responsible. Interns have interests and dreams and feelings…they are struggling to find ways to balance school, work, an internship that pays them nothing and lord knows what else. But what makes everything worth it is knowing that you’re going to come out smarter than when you walked in.

And while I might not be any smarter now than what I was when I walked into Saveur, I am most certainly different. Whether or not that is a good thing has yet to be determined.

All I know is that I wish I had fought harder to make my voice heard and that I had been brave enough to call them out on their false promises of a full portfolio of writing clips, that were replaced with endless hours in a content management system I’m still not sure I know how to use.

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