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My Experience As An Intern

When I was attending Northern Virginia Community College, I worked temporarily as an intern at a graphic design firm. Though I was an intern, it was far from what I would consider a normal experience.

I remember the first time I saw the job offer on the bulletin board outside of my classroom – it was all the way in the back and not very visible. I skimmed through the information and decided to call the company to see if they were hiring. The person who picked up the phone seemed interested in me after our little chit-chat, and scheduled a meeting for my portfolio review. I was overjoyed.

About a week later, I went to see my employer. As I gazed at the address, I couldn’t help but noticed that it looked a lot like a house address. Unfortunately, when I got there, it was true. Damn, I had hoped for my own desk space in some grand building, but I guess that was not going to happen. As I approuched the front door of the house, I see a note that said something like, “UPS/Fed Ex please leave boxes at the back door, thank you.” Hmm, right…

I left to search for the back door. There was a large window that allowed me to see through the basement. As I looked in, I can see my employer sitting there on his computer, appearing to be moving files back and forth on the desktop in an apathetic manner. He seemed like he was doing it for a long time. After five minutes of me staring at him, I gave the door a knock.

He looked startled – perhaps I knocked too hard. A long silence ensued. Suddenly the door swung open and the employer waved his hand at me. I returned the favor with a firm hand shake.

“Let’s get down to business, shall we?” I nodded and spreaded out my work on the table. He scrutinized them thouroughly for a brief moment, as if he was playing detective in a CSI TV episode. Then he let off a big grin. “I like what I see here. When can you start working?” YES! That’s what I wanted to hear! “Anytime is good; I’m flexible,” I said. And that was it, I was hired.

Awesome you might say? Not really. Not after he told me it was non-profit. I was a little disheartened, but then again, I’m really just there for the experience. I accepted the job anyway.

SO, here comes the 6 months of weird stuff. During my semi-employment, I performed the obvious mundane stuff any intern would do – copy, paste, fix, design, etc. But then it got demanding, fast. When my boss AKA my employer left for vacation, I was stuck with all his design works, including a magazine cover design. It sucked. The fact that I was doing all of that work for nothing (as in no pay) frustrated me. I was not happy.

After he got back from his trip, things got more weirder. Soon I found myself doing things that weren’t even related to designing – I was helping him with his gardening works, babysitting his daughters, and house guard duties (yes, this was all real). Perhaps my boss was getting a little bit too casual with me… The line that separated business over personal life became a blur; it was hard not to do anything in the house without making it somewhat personal.

In the end, I decided to leave. Our relationship was simply too personal and I didn’t want it to get to a point where I would be doing him favors instead of working on jobs. So yeah, I think next time if I’m going to get a internship, I should be more careful about who is hiring me and what is offered.

One Comment

  1. Kha Tu Nguyen wrote:

    I understand the need for wanting experience before you graduate, however, after reading your story, yeah, I would agree that next time, you should be more cautious in whom you agree to work for. Especially if it’s from house, I would not recommend it. Even if you get the experience, the reference may not be good. Try to choose a company, within a real office. Even if it’s small, it’s alright, as long as it seem legit. Also, if I was you, I would have never agree to watch his kids. You are not a babysitter, and if something happens, who is to blame? You. After reading your story, I feel so mad for you and feel that you got cheated. However, I also thank you for telling about your experience so others as well as I will use caution when accepting an internship.

    Thursday, February 5, 2009 at 7:40 pm | Permalink