These are the things they don’t tell you when you’re an intern

By Veronica Figueroa

My asthma never allowed me to enjoy sweet cyanide and formaldehyde, slowly filling up my lungs with hopes and dreams…

By this, I mean that I couldn’t partake in the numerous smoke breaks my editors and fellow interns indulged in throughout the day. While everyone was outside in their cancer cloud, discussing ideas for next week’s paper, I was in my cubicle, considering buying candy cigarettes in order to fit in. Next thing I knew, a week has flown by and a new issue was out. The other intern had a cover story and all I had was a 150 word blurb about a Beerlympics bar crawl and shoes covered in sorority sister vomit.

Do you remember that episode from FRIENDS that Rachel picked up smoking to fit in with her boss? I lived that.

These are the things they don’t tell you when you’re a journalism intern.

1. You are going to be losing money:

Most beginner internships are unpaid. You can’t really complain about it either, because the way that the editors who picked you see it, you have no previous experience and not worthy of monetary compensation (that is why they cater food once a week, to make you feel like life is still worth it). You will spend close to 25 hours a week at that internship. The constant driving back and forth, spending gas and running tolls will definitively take a toll on you, no pun intended. Your wallet will hate you.

2. You will become an expert on pasta:

Since you’ll be spending over $70 on transportation costs a week, eating out every day is out of the question. Ramen noodles are the epitome of broke college student nutrition, but it gets old… fast. But, hey, pasta is 2-for-1, right? You can make pasta salad, plain macaroni, mac n’ cheese, etc. For added fun, weigh yourself at the public bathroom scale on your lunch break and hate yourself even more.

3. You may have to pick up drinking:

If you happen to be interning at an alt-weekly news publication, they’re always going to want to keep up with the latest “what’s new” crap in town and hey, you’re a good-looking young intern who would love covering events in the middle of the night, at loud clubs, full of drunk college freshmen, right? Wrong! But, if they ask if you’re interested in covering a club opening in downtown, or write a short about a new drink at that trendy new bar, you say yes. Say yes like your life depends on it. Why? Because that’s probably the only byline you’re going to get that month.

4. You will have to do all the grunt work:

When you first walk in to your internship as an editorial intern, you’re all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. Flitting images of Lois Lane reporting for the Daily Planet rush through your head as you’re being directed to your cubicle and given your first task; acquiring Carpal Tunnel as you self address and stamp over 100 envelopes to send out as advertising because the advertising staff needs help. Maybe they wouldn’t be so far behind if they didn’t spend every free moment arguing about whose Pandora playlist is the best (They all suck. If I have to listen to Pitbull one more time, I’m probably going to set this place on fire).

Fact-checking articles is always fun too. The only requirement is to highlight proper nouns and facts, then go online and make sure that they’re all correct. “Wikipedia is not a reliable source,” they said. Yeah right, where else would I have found out that Plato was an ancient Hawaiian weather man as well as a philosopher?


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