Danielle Correa is the Diversity Project Assistant here at Vault. She also endured one of the most painful internships of all-time while an underemployed undergrad, hoping to beef up her resume before graduation. When it was all over after just three hellish weeks, she endured six months of unemployment (during which, we assume, a few more great stories occurred). So what would you have done? Save yourself the misery, or endure this week's edition of Temporary Tales? Read on and decide for yourself, then let us know! And as always, if you've got a tale of your own, be sure to send it to PinkSlipped@Vault.com!
About a month before graduation, it occurred to me that my resume could use a little boost. My fabulous life of bartending and waitressing didn’t exactly scream “Hire me!” to potential post-grad employers, so I decided (I still can’t believe I did, but I did) to branch out in search of the perfect internship. No longer able to count on the $300 nightly direct deposit – directly into my pocket, zing! – I knew that while padding my resume, I needed something that would keep my checking account in the black. One April afternoon in the Montclair State computer lab, I stumbled upon what I thought was just that – a forwarded email from my department head advertising an internship entitled “Creative Writer,” which I thought was just perfect, as I wanted to write. Just how wrong I was, I wouldn’t know until I had spent three weeks as the most miserable intern in the tri-state area.
On my first day I arrived at 8 am sharp to discover that I was the first person there and the office door was locked. The office was situated on the second floor of a realtor’s office, and knowing that the company was tiny – only 8 people, including me – I figured I had no choice but to ask the realtor’s receptionist for a key. She kindly requested that I please bugger off and wait outside. No one had told her there was an intern arriving for her first day that day (and who’s going to give a key to the intern, honestly?). I was a little perturbed, but what could I do? I went outside as instructed and my interviewer arrived about 10 minutes later apologizing for being late on my first day. Sensing this might become a regular occurrence, I asked him about getting a key. I was met with something along the lines of, “We don’t give keys to interns.” Strike one!
Once upstairs, I found my new desk waiting for me, miles from the other cubicles and very close to the door, suspiciously so, since I believed my job would involve working closely with the rest of the team. I was told that they were in the process of hiring a receptionist but hadn’t found one yet. Can you guess who got to be the resident Pam Beesley in the meantime? Alright, so I had just become a “Creative Writer” slash Secretary. I guess this might have been okay – if I had ever been given a single chance to write. Things really seemed to be working out so far….
When it came time to meet the rest of my co-workers, they were welcoming at first, but for the remainder of my time with the company I heard the snickering and whispering by the water cooler. I saw them look at me and then turn away and laugh amongst themselves, which would have been uncomfortable enough before factoring in that I was the only woman working for this company. Strike two!
Finally, the fun part – meeting the CEO. Pardon my French when I say, what an arrogant, sexist &#$*@! Clearly I wouldn’t have been so eager to take the internship if “Personal slave to CEO” were listed under the job requirements. When he needed something mailed, I licked the stamps, got into my beat up 1992 Honda Prelude and drove across town to the post office (his letters almost always had to be mailed internationally). I did this every day for three weeks, rain or shine. I made coffee. Of course, Mr. CEO liked his coffee stronger than everyone else, so I made two separate pots of coffee – three times a day. Every day I ordered his lunch and picked it up since the jerk was too cheap to pay for delivery. If he had a meeting, I ordered clients’ lunches as well, and was then forced to place plates, utensils, condiments – the works – in front of these clients, as if I were some baboon! Whenever anyone called the office, I had to get up and announce who was calling, why, and from what company rather than simply transfer Mr. CEO’s calls directly. I wasn’t allowed to email him messages or forward voicemails, either. I had to write them down, then go to his desk and announce the list to him twice a day. By the grace of the internship gods, I was afforded an hour lunch break – my lone perk.
Sadly, all of this was a cakewalk compared with my most miserable task. The company had no janitor or cleaning service, so after a long day of running errands, jumping through hoops like a circus ape and doing the opposite of the job I thought I was hired to do, I got to take out the trash. I was required to collect everyone’s personal garbage and the large one from the kitchen, then lug them to the one nearby dumpster a block away. And you know Mr. CEO never forgot to poke his head over my desk at 4:55 as he was heading out the door and say, “Don’t forget to take out the trash.”
It’s one thing to treat the intern like, well, garbage. However, Mr. CEO didn’t even pretend to respect me. He’d berate me in front of the entire office, and never coached me on how he wanted things done, despite my repeated inquiries. I think you know where this is going… Strike three!
After three weeks, I finally put my foot down and quit. Stressing over some two-bit CEO’s personal errands? Really not worth the $8.50 an hour. To recap, that’s $300-a-night waitressing gig gone, and miserable (but paid) internship gone. In spite of it all, I was proud that I had stood up for myself, confident that I could command respect from my superiors in the future, and sure that I really had tried my best. I looked ahead and searched for my new enterprise. It awaited me somewhere.
And if you think that was awful, stay tuned for the journey that follows this temporary tale…six months of unemployment!
--Posted by Danielle Correa, Vault Diversity Project Asst.
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