Thursday, June 27, 2013

Drinking on the Job: Do or Don't?

Before I launch into this, I want to preface it by saying that I am in no way, shape, or form talking about the pros and cons of bringing a water bottle full of vodka into your workplace and downing it throughout the day.


Edsters, if you are interning this summer, there is a 99.99% chance you will be invited to go to a work-related event at some point. You will probably accept the invitation, because, as interns, we want to show that not only can we run errands and organize papers like a boss, but we can also attend posh events like we were born for it.

I got such an invitation last week at my entertainment internship. It was the first event I was invited to attend for them, and, even before the invitation had fully left my editor’s mouth, I was wildly nodding and repeating variations of “yes!” and “sure!” and “eeek!"

Luckily, I wasn’t held to any type of event coverage for the first go-around. This was going to be a piece of cake: Attend the event and meet more of the website’s team. The company that we work for was throwing the party, so the whole crew was going. And we were all on the VIP list.

We arrived (by taxi, not train!) and, in pro-celeb style, cut the line at the door and snapped on all-access wristbands. The party was a luau-themed event set on a terrace, which wasn’t as fun as it sounds considering this party was held on a particular Friday that NYC residents might remember as the day it torrentially downpoured for 14 straight hours. Thankfully, there was plenty of room indoors, and everybody still wore their leis with gusto.

Everyone in the group was ushered into the roped off VIP area, where the problem of the night immediately presented itself. There were literally buckets of alcohol everywhere, filled to the brim with everything from Heineken to Hennessy. Great! Time to start popping some bottles, right?

I’m not so sure. First off, as an intern, as much as I’d like to be, I am not part of the actual website crew. These people spend every day of the week pouring out their souls into the production and promotion of the website, in some instances for many years, and I have yet to complete my fourth (part-time) week on the job. They are not regarding me with the same level of camaraderie as the person they’ve been sharing a cubicle with for who knows how long. There is no way that getting real loose in front of people whom I do not know is going to garner the same response as if another one of their coworkers starts downing drinks.

Okay, so I’m not going to go crazy. But what about just one? Won’t that make me look like less of a prude then if I don’t drink at all?

Again, I’m not so sure. Choosing not to drink, period, is less of a deal then I think we sometimes get it worked up to be. This is not my first internship, nor my first definitely-not-in-Kansas-anymore event that I’ve been able to attend. In years past, I’ve taken advantage of that open bar just as much as anyone else. But, this time around, something happened that was a first for me (which is a little surprising considering this is internship #6).

I sat down next to the one other girl sipping a bottle of Coke, and, throughout the course of our chat, she found out that I had done a bit of freelance writing. As it turns out, she had done a lot of freelance work in the past, and dropped the name of a well-known fashion blog that was looking for more freelance event coverage, kindly encouraging me to shoot the editor an email.

I have no proof to back this up, but I wonder if she was easily willing to pass on the tip and recommend me, a new (and young) acquaintance, to another editor because we opened the conversation by talking about how we both didn't feel it was right to be drinking at work-related events.

I still remembered the name of the blog the next day, and you better believe I sent that email. Who knows? I could have just found one more bullet to add to my resume this summer, and all because of a little bonding over ordering the same non-alcoholic drinks.

But, this is only one experience, and only one opinion. Do you guys have any stories to share in this area? How did you handle the situation?

Until next week,

Ed’s Entertainment Intern

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