“AT LEAST YOU’RE ONE UP FROM IMMIGRANTS”: A GUIDE TO THE LIFE OF AN INTERN PT. 1 by Leighann Morris

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So naive

Finishing university is a massive anti-climax. It’s kind of like waiting all your teenage life to FINALLY lose your virginity, having built up expectations of an otherworldly out-of-body experience, and in reality getting 3 awkward minutes of some idiot with acne trying to fuck you with his socks on. It’s disappointing all-round.

This guide is for those of you who have a good degree in something useless and unemployable, and, from this depressing outcome, have saved up some money with the vague hope that doing an internship will shower you with knowledge, contacts, and the opportunity of a job.

Anger has repressed my memories of interning at [nameless] newspapers for exactly a year now, so I feel it my duty to warn the newest batch of hopefuls what may be in store for them. So I’ve broken my guide down into 3 accessible categories, filled with anecdotal nightmares and advice.

1)      SEXUAL HARRASSMENT

The level of understanding of male/female equality at [nameless] newspapers had not progressed from the 1950’s. In fact, the whole time I was there, I felt like I was in an episode of mad men, apart from no one was cool or suave, just really fucking sexist.

The horrendous thing about the level of sexism and sexual harassment that went on at [nameless] newspapers was that I WARNED about it on arrival. It was a commonly known fact at [nameless] newspapers, AND EVERYONE CHOSE TO IGNORE IT.  It was like everyone got the office version of Stockholm Syndrome, and eventually learned to love the pervy office dictator the more they worked there.  My warning went something like this:

“Thing is about [nameless managing director of nameless newspapers], he’s really touchy feely, but he means no harm, you just have to take it or leave it. You’ll get used to it, he’s got a really good heart”. ALWAYS CHOOSE “LEAVE IT”. I DON’T GIVE A SHIT ABOUT YOUR ‘GOOD HEART’ WHEN YOU’RE MASSAGING MY SHOULDERS AT MY DESK YOU FUCKING PERVERT.

The awful thing about being a young graduate is that you feel in a position of vulnerability and immense pressure. I put up with anything because I was worried about missing out on opportunities at a time when they were scarce and unemployment was at its record low. But it goes past the point of being ok when you’re told that if you hitch your skirt up, you may one day make it to the top of the chain. (Yes that actually happened, in real life, even though it sounds like a line from a low budget 80’s porno). You didn’t work your arse off for three years to get treated like a sex object, so don’t allow yourself to be.

My [nameless] boss at [nameless] newspapers was the kind of guy that fucks his secretaries, makes his wife get a boob job, and drives a Bentley. If your boss is also this guy, get out of there; especially since you’re doing it for free. Which brings us to…

2)      FINANCIAL EXPLOITATION

According to my understanding, an internship is an exchange of free labour (be it intellectual/physical) on the part of the intern, for experience, generously given to the intern by the place they choose to intern at. During my time at [nameless] newspapers, I found out that I was replacing a junior PA, who was paid a wage, whilst she was in hospital for 6 weeks. Therefore, this does not qualify as an internship, but rather EXPLOITATION. The six weeks entailed sitting opposite an unbearable nail filing digestive eating moron, who constantly referred to herself and her boyfriend as a “we”. Daily topics of conversation began with sentences such as: “we’re having casserole for dinner tonight”, “we might just go to the cinema you know? Have a chilled one”, and “we’re just gonna stay at home for Christmas this year”. Times when I was getting harassed by [nameless managing director] actually turned out to be a relief after a while, because I no longer had to continue conjuring up believable responses and calculating strategic head nods.

I made sure I bought loads of food for lunch to file through expenses as my own personal revenge. It did nothing apart from make me fat AND miserable.

So, hopefuls, often “internship” = filing stuff for free. Make very careful decisions about the kind of internship you want to apply for, and do lots of research.

3)      YOUR BOSS IS DAVID BRENT X1000000000000

As well as regular desk massages, sexist comments, and nicknaming me ‘beautiful little blonde’, [nameless managing director] was also acted like a hormonal bi polar lunatic on regular occasions. However, because of his position of authority, EVERYONE was scared of him (including me). This meant he could get away with whatever he wanted. When he wasn’t inappropriately touching me, he was flinging elastic bands at my head from the other side of the office for a “laugh”. It was like spending six weeks with David Brent, but without any of the funny bits.

When I didn’t fear the perverse invasion of my personal space, I feared one of [nameless managing director’s) famous mood swings. On one occasion, after learning that there was no brown bread left in the café upstairs (he eats the same sandwich every day, specially made), he made his PA call the poor boy running the café, put him on the line, and shouted at him furiously for being a “useless cunt.” One of the biggest regrets of my life thus far (there have been loads) was laughing along nervously whilst this happened, rather than telling him that this was an unacceptable way to speak to any member of staff, and storming out. I felt like that evil guy in titanic that gets on the boat before the women and children. I WAS A TRAITOR, I SAVED MYSELF. Don’t let this happen to you.

[Nameless managing director] really took a liking to me. He phoned me a couple of weeks ago and offered me a job. I really needed a job, and i thought about taking it. But i phoned back and declined the offer. Because frankly, i’m better than that. Never settle.

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5 thoughts on ““AT LEAST YOU’RE ONE UP FROM IMMIGRANTS”: A GUIDE TO THE LIFE OF AN INTERN PT. 1 by Leighann Morris

  1. Reblogged this on Interns on Strike and commented:
    Good post! Thank you for sharing!

  2. James says:

    I did enjoy this article, i truly did, informative and entertaining. However I personally I found the title pretty offensive in all honesty. I hope I have entirely the wrong end of the stick but as someone else also seeking internships I find it odd that someone who has experienced harrassment and degrading attitudes towards yourself in the ways you have described then to make a sweeping comment about immigrants being a class lower, I find it very difficult to take you seriously. If the title of your article is steeped in irony i apologise, but my family are immigrants and didn’t have the luxury of higher education as I have had, nether the less some of them are the most intellectually impressive people I know.

    • Behind The Curtain says:

      Hi James, thanks for the comment. I agree with you about the title however, it’s a genuine quote that was said to the author. Pretty nasty huh? No offence was intended from our side so hope this clears it up. Thanks for reading!

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