Friday, June 15, 2012

Intern Invasion: Sizing Up the Competition

In the beginning, I prided myself on being the first intern this summer at the magazine, especially since my supervisor mentioned they hadn’t had any interns in quite a while. Although not all the staffers knew my name, they identified my status based on the location of my desk, in the isolated middle section of the office.  Over the past couple of weeks, they’ve solely relied on me to complete their research or transcribing tasks.  My supervisor has even recognized my willingness to go the extra mile, whether it means working through my lunch break or staying well past the time I’m supposed to leave.

Just when I’ve started to feel more comfortable in my role at the magazine, I realized I wasn’t the only new kid on the block.  Evidence in the form of new post-it notes tacked to my bulletin board and past issues strewn on my desk was proof that other interns have arrived on the scene.  It was inevitable that others would have to pick up the slack on the days when I wasn’t scheduled to be in the office, but I could rationalize that it was OK since I didn’t interact with them.  Out of sight, out of mind…right?

Boy was I wrong.

One Friday morning, I spotted a guy sitting adjacent from me at previously unoccupied intern desk.  
As we made eye contact and before I could speak to him, he suddenly swiveled away and turned back to his computer. Wow, that was rude, I thought. Instead of pursuing an introduction further, I decided to shrug it off and let the matter go (at least for the moment) so that I could focus on my own pressing duties. If that’s how he wanted to let things play out, then so be it.  

I looked up later on that day and noticed a staffer visiting the guy’s desk. I couldn’t help but overhear their overly loud conversation punctuated by outbursts of laughter. Of all things, they were discussing an article for the magazine with comical anecdotes. That sounded like a cool assignment, and I couldn’t help but wonder why that wasn’t me instead of him. Stealing a quick glance, I envied the ease of their rapport and wished I could form a connection like that with my supervisor or even another staffer instead of feeling like an outsider. So, rather than seething in frustration, I took a deep breath and channeled my inner turmoil into my work.

When I got back from my break, I looked over and saw he was gone.  My supervisor stopped by the desk to check in with me and casually asked if I had met the other intern. I sheepishly admitted that I hadn’t, using the excuse that I was too busy with my work from earlier. She informed me that he was on the Wednesday/Friday rotation, so I would be seeing him around more often. I think she was subtly warning me to prepare myself for more company. Now more that ever I would have to be on my A-game as I jockeyed to hold on to my position amid the onslaught of other fresh-faced interns.

Unlike the other guy, the next Monday I was formally introduced to two other interns. Ironically, both girls appeared as though they stepped off the pages of a fashion magazine. I couldn’t help but compare my comfy yet drab duds to their stylishly classic skirted attire. Looks aside, they seemed friendly and enthusiastic about the internship. They even asked me questions through out the day about what I was working on and when they should take their break. I responded politely and offered to go out to lunch.  Although our workload hasn’t aligned well enough for us to eat together yet, maybe that will change one day soon. Until then, I vowed I will keep my eyes open and watch my back.

Entertainment Intern

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