Published on May 17th, 201312
Agency wanted for post of internship
There was a time when office interns were persons with zero attitude and full commitment. Those times are clearly over.
I turned 26 in the March that went by. That makes my experience in writing exactly eight years, considering I began working three days after I turned 18. Obviously most of the time was spent freelancing/interning for close to no money, but that’s something everyone is only too familiar with.
I still remember when I was all of 18, shaking in my boots at the prospect of my first ever interview. I came out of the meeting thanking my stars that I had landed a job without any trouble at all, never mind that there was no money involved.
Eight years since, I’m still not better off at interviews. I don’t tremble as much in my flip flops (and I still suck at negotiating for the money), but there’s the constant awareness of meeting a very senior, experienced person with more knowledge and skills than I’ll probably ever have. I try and dress decently (I work in advertising. So ‘decently’ means wearing jeans and a peasant top, rather than the usual metal tees and jeans), I am at my politest best, and I would die rather than not stick to the time that my prospective employer is expecting me at. Never mind that I just might have to wait hours before he agrees to see me, if at all.
And this is despite having three-four years of experience in the field.
So then, what is with 18-year-old kids these days?
I’ve worked with a fair share of interns. And more than 10 times that number have applied to me for an internship. I just have one question: what’s with the attitude?
From writing ridiculously pompous cover letters to sending me writing samples that they believe are Pulitzer Prize-worthy, to asking for feedback and hating the criticism, these people have done it all. Some of them are lazy, some think most intern-worthy chores are beneath them, while some are just plain bad writers proficient in denial.
The underlying, uniting factor? They all think copywriting is easy.
I’ve been asked the following questions from copy interns coming in for interviews, or while they were working with me. I present them to you in increasing order of ridiculousness.
– It’s 5.30. I have to leave. Can I do this tomorrow?
– How many times a week do you party?
– Do you need to read for this job? I kinda don’t read!
– I don’t have any writing samples, ya. Is that a problem?
– Hmm, I don’t like the idea of writing brochures. Can you give me more interesting work to do?
– Oh, you’re a ‘digital’ agency? And your ‘normal’ advertising sits downstairs? So can I join upstairs and move downstairs?
– How famous is this agency? I don’t want to join a small place.
– I have been working on this account for two months and I don’t like it. Can you put me on some other account?
– It’s my anniversary tomorrow and I’m spending the day with my girlfriend. Cool, na?
– Oh man, we can’t come to office at 12?
And that’s just the start of things to come. I don’t think I’d muster the courage to talk to anyone like that, even when I’m 25 years old in the industry.
Just recently, a girl who desperately wanted a job never showed up for her interview. Neither did she pick up HR’s calls or respond to SMSes. We still don’t know whether she was buried alive in an avalanche somewhere on her way here. I hope she was. Many interns I see try to leave at 5 pm leaving a mound of work behind because of reasons ranging from family dinners, weddings, friends’ birthdays, farewells, airport pickups/drops, sick pets, bachelorette parties, shopping sprees before impending Goa trips…the list is endless, just like the number of events in their party calendars!
Why aren’t kids these days more scared of annoying their prospective employers with the horrible attitude? Where does this ‘I-know-a-lot-more-than-you’ attitude come from? And why do they mistake bad manners for ‘dashing attitude’ and ‘confidence’?
Sweeping generalisations aside, most of the trainees we see don’t even know the basics. And they don’t want to learn more than they already think they know. I am a copywriter, so I can only speak for advertising. They apply for a writing job and expect me to explain the difference between ‘loose’ and ‘lose’. Don’t even get me started on their full party calendar because of which they can never work late hours.
What about advertising and writing makes people believe it’s the easiest profession on the planet? What makes them think they’re going to be at Cannes the very next year, without any drudgery? How are they okay overriding seniors and establishing their own rules? Am I the only one meeting these specimens?
And last, and perhaps the most important question: when did I become old and wise enough to call other people ‘kids’?
Mukta Lad is a copy supervisor with a leading ad agency in Mumbai. Follow her at @mooodles, or not.
(Pictures courtesy Pushkaraj Shirke, pleaseuseyourwords.blogspot.com, www.cristianoakajames.com)