When you hear the word ‘intern’ or ‘internship’ people usually fall into two categories. The first recoil into a pit of negativity about how interns are exploited in today’s economy and working world, while others are excited by the prospect thinking it’s all a big Devil Wears Prada charade, where your tasks will involve running to Hermes to fetch scarves and attending fabulous parties with a memorised list of faces of important people to greet. The reality is (depending on where your internship is of course) your experience will fall somewhere between the two. The other reality is that, forget the actual experience you have, an internship is a necessity in securing a job today.
My experience so far as a Communications / PR assistant has definitely been a mixture of these. On the whole it has been positive with the first two months of settling in behind me and an established job role where I am now aware of the expectations and responsibilities I face.
One of the huge selling points of the company I am currently interning for is that it specialises in networking and puts on networking events in various locations around the city to enable these opportunities for the member companies to meet and network with each other. As an intern, this is also a great networking opportunity. Most of the interns who work for these companies will not have met the senior people in these organisations I meet on a regular basis so this is a big plus.
The most poignant example I can think of demonstrating this recently was our annual Transatlantic Business Awards Dinner held at The Pierre Hotel, just off Central Park. The event had 500 guests – all of which are the top CEOs and executives in some of the biggest and most influential companies in the world from the fields of media, law, banking, finance and retail. My role was to greet these guests and guide them to the registration room. I only just, and very luckily, managed to hold it together when approached with the Chairman of Burberry SIr John Peace and the CEO of Burberry Americas Angela Ahrendts. I managed to resist the threat of a garbled and gushed hello and appropriately smiled, welcomed them and helpfully informed them where the coat check and registration was. It took a lot to not rush and nonchalantly scatter my CV all over the Burberry table before they were seated for dinner afterwards however.
Other notable guests of the evening included the British Ambassador to the United States, Sir Peter Westmacott.
In many ways the opportunity to mingle with these senior executives is an intern’s dream, provided you manage to articulate a sentence in the conventional fashion and aren’t too overwhelmed by the quantity of Louboutins in close proximity. It does, however, illuminate the gap between the position you are in (bottom) and the position they are in (top, obviously) but that is the [wonderful] nature of internships and a gap that must be embraced while student discount permits.