Growing up in a lower-middle class family from a lower-middle class area of LA, the term “internship”–meaning a temporary position with an emphasis on on-the-job training rather than merely employment–was foreign to me.
I’m serious too. The very first time I heard of the term internship was in that episode of Fresh Prince of Bel Air when Will took an internship from Uncle Phil’s friend who ended up being a corrupt businessman. When that term was first mentioned, Carlton uttered “internship…as in not-paid?” and bailed.
Since Fresh Prince, and other sitcoms, taugt me most of my life lessons, I learned from that episode that internships are:
2: you actually work for a corrupt dude who will try to get you to deliver a briefcase full of cash to the mayor
Seriously now, aside from that episode, I don’t think I heard that term again until I moved to Hong Kong. Because where I’m from, teens can’t afford to work for free. We had to work for money, to fund our summer activities.
So I get to Hong Kong I’m introduced to this world of internships, where 17-24 (usually) year olds willingly work for free to get experience. So now, for the fourth straight summer, my workplace has taken on a load of free help.
Now for some strange reason, I’ve always gotten on with the interns quite well. Two of my most frequent Facebook commentors are interns whom I worked with for 2 weeks and 6 weeks, respectively and have seen only two-three times in person since. But they like my Facebook wall. Two other older British interns became my closest friends in HK for a time (in my defense, these were grown-ass-men interns who were same age as me). Another three or four more I keep contact with regularly. Recently, two departing New York-based interns got me a goldfish on their last day. That was weird (even more weird when the goldfish died over the weekend cause I left it there).
A few months back, my then-girlfriend said it was a bit weird that I hang out with interns more than I do with say, my editors. At first I was a bit offended, afterall, I’m closer in age to the interns than editors…right? But then I thought about it, and actually… no. I was closer to their age in 2007, my first summer. But not anymore.
For a while there, I had forgotten about David Wooderson’s wisdom: