Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Intern Dilemma - To Snitch or Not to Snitch?

Hey there fellow Edsters!

So last time I discussed how important it was to try to get along with your fellow interns and hopefully work together to get work done ASAP. And I absolutely still believe this to be the best method — you’ll leave the editors with a good sense that you’re a team player, efficient with your time, and an enthusiastic, friendly face to have in the office.

But just because you befriend the other interns, doesn’t mean the competition isn’t still on: we all know it’s a tough industry we’re trying to break into, and that every contact is super valuable — so no matter what, we’re all still trying to impress the boss.

As for me, I’ve quickly become friends with my fellow intern. We help each other out (having to figure out a pressing toner issue on the copy machine is so much more stressful than you’d think!) and grab lunch together on our breaks. We also have plans to go see Easy A next week after work, but I guess that’s neither here nor there.

So here’s where things get tricky:

My friend had been given a really cool task by one of the senior editors — basically to look up upcoming city events, museum exhibitions and food festivals that could possibly be featured either online or in future issues of The Mag. But she wasn’t too stoked about the project, admitting to me that had it been research on film openings or fashion events she would have been way more enthusiastic about the project. At that point, I didn’t have any pressing work to do, (plus I thought the project sounded like fun) so I volunteered to help her get it done. And so we split up the research and began emailing events back and forth to compile one master list for the editor.

But as I was rattling it off, I began to wonder if my fellow intern would acknowledge my help. I know at past internships, I had always submitted group efforts with a note indicating some variation of “compiled by the editorial interns” or whoever had helped me out — 95% because it was true and 5% out of guilt should I have been discovered taking all the credit myself! But I’ve never seen a problem with giving credit where credit is due. Again, the editor just wants the best possible work (so he/she doesn’t have to go back and do it again) turned in as quickly and efficiently as possible. And unless he/she explicitly says “this is a top-secret project,” or something of that nature, then why not split it up if another intern is looking for work?

And so, as I emailed off my research, I didn’t have the heart to straight up ask: “So, are you going to let Senior Editor know I helped you out?” And still now, I have no idea whether she did or didn’t.

So what would you have done fellow Edsters? Is this a Karma thing, where what goes around comes around? Will editors slowly realize that the other intern is getting solid work done unusually quickly? Will the other intern be as willing to help me out with my heavy loads? Or was it silly that I didn’t say anything before she turned it in? Maybe some of you would argue it was silly I helped her out at all — but isn’t every experience, no matter how trivial, beneficial to my education here at The Mag? And maybe I’m not giving my friend enough credit, maybe she acknowledged me without a second thought, but I guess we’ll never know, right?

I’d love your feedback on this, so please send me your thoughts in comments!

Until next time,
Features Intern


  1. You should definitely NOT say anything to the senior editor, you will look immature and petty. You helped her put together a list, and you don't know if she mentioned it or not (she may have). You don't need a gold star for every bit of work that you do, a lot of your work will go unrecognized, and that's fine. Pick your battles, if you had a brilliant story idea and she tried to pass it off as her own-- maybe then pipe up. Wrote the bulk of an article and got no byline? You have the right to be pissed. This will be a blip in your internship.

  2. Why don't you try going to that same editor for more work, and casually slip that you'd love to help out compiling more research if she has any because you really enjoyed working with (fellow intern's name) on the last project? This way you're not being petty, you're taking an initiative to get your own work, and your editor knows you helped! Hope that helps.

  3. Personally, I think you did the right thing by helping her out. But give her a little credit! If you would credit your fellow interns for their help, there's a good chance others would do the same for you. Just remember, what goes around comes around :)

  4. I agree with Traci. Next time you talk to the editor, casually slip it in. You can also ask her if those research points that you helped compile were just what she's looking for.

  5. You offered to help your friend without any caveats, so there shouldn't necessarily be an expectation of public acknowledgement. You will have to wait to see whether she returns the favor (i.e. the help), or takes takes takes without ever bothering to give give give.
    If it turns out to be the latter, then eventually you may decide to stop offering your help.
    In this case, though, it sounds as though you got some good experience, so it wasn't all for nothing. And besides, being a good friend is never for nothing.