Internships are a lot like casual dating. You find the ultimate internship/unpaid placement, and you know it’s a match made in heaven because your interests and skillset is so like the company ethos, you think it may have been written just for you.
This is it, you tell yourself. All I have to do is prove myself for three months and I’m in.
The interview goes exceptionally well: you manage to talk about yourself enough without sounding like a dickhead, and you asked them questions too, which is important, apparently.
You think that you were friendly yet engaging, corporate and courteous. You start to dream up your future in the company and envisage what lies ahead. What will you wear on dress-down Fridays? Will you have lunch in that nice Japanese place?
you manage to talk about yourself enough without sounding like a dickhead
A week crawls by without any word, and you begin googling the job advert to see if it is still online. After ten days you consider ringing your network provider to check if your SIM is working but then, suddenly you get a call from the company offering you the position. They need you now! Can you start today?
You say of course far too quickly, and throw together an outfit that says ‘hire me’.
The internship starts off exciting and fast-paced. Although there isn’t a promise of a permanent job at the end, you’re confident you can win them over. You embrace every task with gusto but soon you realise the company can’t commit to a set schedule.
They keep letting you down.
They’re having some ‘development’ issues and aren’t sure which days they will need you.
That’s fine, you say, I’m not doing anything else, I can come in whenever.
friends question your priorities when you miss a birthday celebration to alphabetise accounting files on a Friday evening.
What was once a ‘learning curve’ soon morphs into a linear plateau and eventually descends into a downward spiral. The company is taking the piss and you’ve heard rumours that some of the other interns are PAID?! Still – you change plans regularly so you can work for them at the last minute. Friends question your priorities when you miss a birthday celebration to alphabetise accounting files on a Friday evening. It might still lead to something, you protest. Maybe they will make it official?
You don’t even bat an eyelid when your boss tells you that you can’t get an invite to the Christmas party as it’s for permanent staff only and unfortunately that’s how it’s always been. You smile sweetly, and tell him that you must have got confused, although you’re certain someone in HR sent you an email.
Was this a mirage? What is real?
You tell your boss that you’ve already made plans anyway whilst trying to sound aloof. You stay in all evening and spend three hours re-cropping your photo on LinkedIn
On Monday the Christmas party talk is making you jealous and later you are called to your boss’ office. The company is sorry but one of the other interns has really excelled, and they’ve been here for a lot longer. It’s not you it’s them and if they could, they would take you all on. Stay in touch, your boss says, we’ll keep you on file.We still need to keep our options open at the moment.
Pissed off, you return to your desk for the last time.
You’ve put your all into this. You are the missing cog in the company wheel. Without you there is no wheel. You worked hard, what went wrong? You wrack your brains and vow to go on a journey of self-improvement, starting with your hair.
without you there is no wheel
Were you too keen? Maybe you should have made more coffee. Or the coffee you did make was of substandard quality. Fuck the coffee; you should have made more tea!
You resolve to tell all your friends about how shit the company is, warning them never to accept internship offers in a similar vein. You spend your last tube journey home thinking about the sushi you never got to taste in that Japanese place.
Next time, next time you’ll know how to play the game.