Tuesday, 9 November 2010


Considering the connotations of that daunting word, career, I imagine a journey of life-sculpturing accomplishments; accomplishments one would hope to be endorsed with money to match their worth. However, recently taking my very first baby-steps onto the career ladder having landed an internship, the thought of associating steps so incredibly small with a notch on my list of life-accomplishments, seems slightly bizarre. For previous generations, the first step of the career was one of great significance; my grandparents' first jobs in fact being their last. However, today’s economy, unrecognisable from the times when a career consisted of a single occupation, moreover, a single company, is home to a career with an entirely different meaning.

After months of idle applications, following interviews, following the deflation of the predictable rejection, I was nothing but enthralled when I landed the job of ‘Editorial Intern’ at a prestigious publishing company. Not only had I successfully become a cog in a company that ticked a box of interest, I instantly found myself imagining the sweet sound of the job title on my ever-so-slowly improving CV. In comparison to the mind-numbing boredom and sense of worthlessness which accompanied unemployment, my internship made me feel alive with a new sense of purpose and accomplishment. Three weeks of a three-month contract down, it is time to gain perspective.

Whilst contently plodding along as ‘Editorial Intern’, I have been offered a full-time internship elsewhere. Despite paying me considerably less for expenses, furnished with no holiday perks and its location making for a far more painful commute, it is an incredibly tempting offer. Forced to reconsider my role and purpose as ‘Editorial Intern’, I have realised that somewhere along the line, I became lost.Today, it is widely acknowledged and accepted that the first step of the average graduate’s career is a sacrifice. It is a sacrifice involving the total abandonment of the sacred twenty-somethings for an experience, that regardless of its worth, plays a significant role on paper. So the creation of an abundance of worthless spreadsheets, to receive no recognition but a cheque merely covering travel expenses, all the while consuming a lifetime’s worth of tea, is apparently worthwhile.

Currently satisfied, comfortable, and ultimately in denial, it has become clear that ‘Editorial Intern’ is essentially code for ‘dogsbody’. Despite originally being fuelled by a false sense of worth, in reality, I am a means to an end. Regardless of the first stage of the 21st century career consisting of ‘baby steps’, they are steps that should by no means be considered insignificant. In an era where the intern is all too readily used and abused by the system, it is crucial to keep our wits about us. Awoken to my foolish submission to occupational therapy, I have recognised it is no occupation; it is time to find myself.

Rose Brownlow

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