When I heard that a Melbourne University student recently interned at the Herald Sun, had a “horrific” time and retaliated by penning a bitter account of her experience in the student paper, I was intrigued. What a sasspot. Although I did spend most of the article waiting for the bit where she got her arse grabbed by a senior journalist and questioning what appeared to be honest surprise at the revelation that the Herald Sun is not a beacon of journalistic integrity and cutting edge news, the contentious debate cerated by the article is to be commended.
Having recently completed two internships at independent publications I can report zero incidents of sexual harassment, homophobia or “heteronormative” favouritism. Here is what I did learn…
1) Offices are above all else, awkward. I spent two weeks swapping emails in silence whilst sitting a metre away from one editor, then a month always getting the joke last because I was not subscribed to the global email list of internet memes. The global email list is key.
2) Don’t wear a suit to the office if you’re not an accountant—they don’t dress like Mad Men in the world of advertising anymore. Converse and zany jumpers are appropriate office attire every day if you’re in a cool office (not a regular office). No one enjoys the click clack of heeled boots in a silent room.
3) Do your homework. You don’t want to do as I did and spend your first day googling “How does insert publication name make money?”
4) Don’t bring your lunch to work. One of the few times I did this I was poised to enjoy a delicious salad in the park when it got literally snatched from my lunchbox by a loitering kookaburra. Karma hates people who pack their own lunch. On the upside, this story made for great water cooler banter back at the office and even made the work Twitter account. Lunchtime also allows potential for bonding and to listen in on co-workers bitch about the boss and/or the job you are hoping to achieve after completing your internship.
5) Know when to stop giving it away for free—this is the mantra of all good ladies of the night and interns who eventually progress to the payroll. No money, no honey.