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The Intern Issue

Will work for credits - A survey of local internships
Back 2 School

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I Was a Sweaty Paper Magazine Intern!

Carnegie Mellon student goes from aspiring to perspiring in three
short weeks


Writer: Whitney Hess

It's humbling to admit that you have fallen prey to the lure of a chichi internship. A flashy magazine offers you a flashy experience and you are captivated. Resist the seduction! During my search for an internship in the spring of 2002, I happened upon the Web site of Paper Magazine, a chic fashion and entertainment magazine based in New York City. The sleek Web site -- black background with multicolored text and graphics of today's sexiest models and movie stars -- immediately promised a glamorous, socially-elevating summer filled with cocktail parties, private film screenings, and lunch (or lack thereof) with these beautiful faces. Toward the bottom of the magazine's masthead, under the names of the current interns, is a link titled "YOUR NAME HERE!" Those were the magic words. Like the docile, resume-filling college student that I am, I clicked that link as fast as I could.

Two weeks later, I was in New York interviewing for an internship at Paper Mag's offices just outside of SoHo. Right off the elevator you are met head-on with a display of covers from all the past issues. My trance grew ever stronger as I felt myself getting closer to the world I had imagined from their Web site. I was met in the waiting room, separated by a wall from the offices, by a young woman who was dressed like she was about to step in front of the camera herself. She explained that there were two internships I could choose from: the editorial internship, which includes copy editing, fact-checking, and if I'm really lucky, maybe some writing, and the general internship, which entails rotating through the departments (editorial, advertising, Web site and photography) as needed in order to learn all of the facets of producing a successful monthly magazine.

"Oh, and did I mention that the general interns get to go on photo shoots?" she said.

That made the choice for me right there, and she said she would e-mail me once she passed my resume on to the powers that be. A few days later, she e-mailed me saying that my qualifications were very impressive and that Paper Magazine would love to have me as an intern for the summer. Sweet! I was in!

When I arrived on my first day, I was met by a receptionist wearing cargo shorts and a tank top to show off her sleeves of colorful tattoos. As the receptionist, she gave the impression that she was a sneak peak of what could be found inside, but I soon discovered otherwise. I was introduced to the office manager who is also in charge of the internship program. She was approximately 300 pounds and dressed in a black long-sleeved shirt and black leggings. Not what I was expecting from a fashion magazine, but that's OK, I have an open mind. Without so much as a tour of the offices, which at first glance were rather tiny, she asked me how long I had been staying in New York. Once I told her that I had lived there my entire life, she said, "Wonderful, then you know how to use a MetroCard. I'm going to need you to take these three garment bags back to these designers," and she shoved three little slips of paper in my hand. Looking over the addresses, I noticed they were spread all over Manhattan, none in walking distance from another.

"You want me to take the subway?" I asked. It was the middle of July and approximately 90 degrees outside, and definitely hotter underground.

"Yes, be a doll," was her response.

For the next three weeks, three days a week for eight hours a day, I rode the subway as I dashed from designer to designer, picking up and dropping off clothing samples for photo shoots. These garment bags were heavy, filled with the latest ornate fashions, and sometimes stuffed with shoes at the bottom. In the heat, my arms sweated profusely under the weight, and I had no choice but to deliver a soaked bag on more than one occasion. I should make it clear that I didn't actually see the inside of any design houses -- I had to come in through the service entrance.

Three weeks was my breaking point. I was never inside the magazine's offices for more than five minutes, I never received a tour nor was introduced to the staff, and I definitely was never invited to a photo shoot. So I just stopped showing up. The next week, when the August issue was on the newsstands, I wasn't surprised to see that my name wasn't printed in the masthead.


Intern's name:
Joanna Lovering

Company:
Mattress Factory

Department:
Education

Number of hours per week you were supposed to work:
12 hours

Number of hours per week you actually worked:
"12 on average."

Length of internship:
Two months: though internships are usually for three months, Lovering had to leave early for her school-year job.

Financial compensation, if any:
None.

Perks, if any:
"Not really. I got to go to the Urban Garden Party, which is the big event, but I had to volunteer for half the time, so that wasn't actually a perk. No, no perks. Except for the goodbye gift: a book, a T-shirt, and some postcards."

Decor:
"Pretty darn laid back. It's a really small office, but there are cubicles to separate the space. Everyone there is an artist, so they all decorate their cubicles in their own artsy ways."

Tone:
"Casual. My supervisor really took the time out to get to know me outside of the job. She is a really warm woman."

Style of dress:
"You could wear jeans. People wore nice clothes that you would wear to class. Some women wore skirts, other women wore jeans. So the average standard of dress was khakis and a nice T-shirt."

Range of tasks performed:
Lovering manned the Mattress Factory tables at art festivals, answered the phones when everyone else went to lunch, and did general office work like making copies and setting up chairs. She got to interact with kids at the festivals: "We would have a project for them to do that had something to do with the museum or a specific piece of art in the museum. The kids would come up to the table and use the materials to model the art, or do their own artistic piece, to show that everyone is an artist. We would tell them, 'You don't have to color within the lines,' and that was really new for them."

Most challenging/rewarding task:
"The best thing I did was lead a tour of 6-, 7-, and 8-year-old North Side kids through the museum. I'm sure some of them had never been to a museum before. To show some of them their first glimpse of art that isn't in a textbook is such a rewarding experience. And it's installation art to boot, which is very inclusive and very personal. These kids got so excited about becoming part of the art."

Most tedious task at job:
"The worst task I ever had was that I had to sharpen about 200 colored pencils. That sucked."

Number of hours spent per week on challenging tasks versus tedious ones, approximately:
"There were some weeks when I would be at an arts festival for seven hours & so I'd say on average five hours of tedious and seven hours of exciting/challenging."

Access to big wigs:
"The curator and the executive/artistic director were in the office all the time. They both live at the Mattress Factory on the top two floors."

Skills gained or honed, if any:
"As far as general office work, I know now how an office runs: how to answer a phone and take a message. All that stuff. Going into it, I wanted to know how a nonprofit works. I definitely learned the nuts and bolts of how a non-profit has to be run. Everything from the fundraising, to the receipts, etc. And I think most important for me was how to conduct myself in a professional office environment, even though we weren't in suits. I had never really had that experience before."

How this helped focus what you want to do:
"Now I'm looking more towards outreach, either in theater or museum. You can actually go to grad school for museum education, which is pretty cool."

How this helped focus what you don't want to do:
"I know now that I absolutely cannot be in an office from 9 to 5 every day. Maybe it's because I'm a hyper, jumpy, energetic person, but I need to move around a lot. In this field you get to go out to festivals, and we went to day camps and got be out and involved in things."

Most interesting/eccentric character(s) you encountered on the job:
"Some of the volunteers, honestly. Some of the volunteers are stereotypical artists. Because of the weird environment I was in, I was able to embrace all these weird people. I totally appreciated their presence."

Most triumphant moment you had during the internship:
"It was on the tour with the North Side kids. There was one point when I was on a roll with them. They were listening to me, and they were interested in what I was saying. There was a total interaction between all of the kids, and none of them strayed, and they wanted to learn. It was amazing when they would walk into a room and say, 'Whoa, what is this? Tell us about this.' And they were 7 years old! The fact that one piece of art can impact them so much speaks so much about the art."

Most awkward moment you had during the internship:
"The executive/artistic director of the museum is a very strong-willed woman and she commands respect. She's not a dictator, but she's a very strong woman. Being the intern, I was kind of scared of her. The director of the Warhol called for her, and I was nervous so I took a crappy message and got his name wrong. So when I gave her the message, I said the director of the Warhol, Bob, called, and she said 'Bob is not the director of the Warhol Museum. His name is Tom.' So I said, 'Oh yeah, his name is Tom,' all flustered and she said, 'Are you sure?' I was really nervous."

Most eye-opening moment about how people behave in a work situation:
"During the day of the Urban Garden Party, the annual fundraising event, everybody was crazy. Besides the fact that all kinds of people were there to set up the tents and the tables, and the caterers were there, the office is so small that the place became chaotic: people running around, bumping into each other. But what was so amazing about it is that everybody was just willing to help everybody. That's how a non-profit needs to work; everybody does a little bit of everything, whatever needs to be done."

-- Whitney Hess

Your name:
Nate Sherman

Company:
The Children's Home of Pittsburgh

Department:
Child's Way Extended Pediatric Care

Number of hours per week you were supposed to work:
4

Number of hours per week you actually worked:
6

Length of internship:
Twice a week for about three months

Financial compensation, if any:
None

Perks:
None, but once got a free Subway sub.

Decor:
Laid back

Tone:
Laid back

Style of dress:
"Casual. After all, it is kids, puke, and all that good stuff. You try not to ruin nice clothes."

Range of tasks performed:
"From feeding kids to changing diapers and everything in between."

Most challenging/rewarding task:
"Changing the diapers would be most rewarding and challenging. At the same time, making sure the kids were having fun was also challenging."

Most tedious task at job:
"Feeding the kids and making sure the guys went to the bathroom."

Number of hours spent per week on challenging tasks versus tedious ones, approximately:
"It's hard to say because every day seemed a little different. The tasks of one day were never repeated."

Access to principals/big wigs at company, if any:
None

Skills gained or honed, if any:
"I learned to be more patient and to make sure that I always do a good job. In this type of job, you really gotta make sure you're doing it right. If not, something bad could happen to a little kid."

How this helped focus what you want to do:
It didn't.

How this helped focus what you don't want to do:
It didn't.

Most interesting/eccentric character(s) you encountered on the job:
"The little kids who would always throw up no matter what you tried to do. Or the little kid that kept trying to cop a feel on some of the women who worked there. The kid that would always smile even if you just said his name."

Most triumphant moment you had during internship:
First time successfully changed diaper.

Most awkward moment you had during the internship:
"Walking in on some little kids going to the bathroom. Gotta respect privacy, even for little kids."

Most eye-opening moment about how people behave in a work situation:
"That everyone really liked working there; it's not just a job that people do for fun. They truly like working with children."

-- Robbie Whelan


Intern's name:
Noah Koerper

Company:
Dirt Rag Magazine

Department:
Editorial

Number of hours per week you were supposed to work:
20

Number of hours per week you actually worked:
"Forty, because I did nothing else except work at Dirt Rag. But keep in mind that I could take a two-hour lunch and go mountain biking in the forest and it was counted as product review time."

Length of internship:
Nov.1 to mid-April

Financial compensation, if any:
None

Perks, if any:
"Bikes! And beer! Mainly the compensation for me was to work in such a cool environment in the industry that I want to eventually be involved in."

Decor:
"It's pretty much just a house with biking posters everywhere. It's like a home that someone went a little crazy with."

Tone:
"Everybody was really friendly. It was really unique. It was crazy. You never really knew what to expect. Everyone was sooo friendly! After a week I felt like I was with my family. They went out of their way to make me really comfortable."

Style of dress:
"Whatever you want to. There were days I rode into work and wore the same clothes the entire day. Sometimes it was 15 degrees outside so it would be like a full fleece outfit."

Range of tasks performed:
"I did everything. When it started I worked with databases, a lot of inputting information in the computer. I got to do product reviews and testing. I got to write things for the news section of the magazine and for the Web site. By the end I was doing a news brief every day about cycling that went up on the Web page. That was my own thing. No one was hovering over me. At the end I got to travel to Monterey, Calif., and worked the Dirt Rag booth at the Sea Otter Classic."

Most challenging/rewarding task:
"The Web page was challenging because I was completely on my own and some days I just could not find anything interesting. The most rewarding was the actual writing I did -- the product reviews and things. It was great to not only see a magazine I had proofread and worked with for a month and a half, but to see something that was from my own pen."

Most tedious task at job:
"The Mega Raffle. You raffle off bike stuff and with every raffle [entrants had] to fill out a survey and I had to enter all that by hand. There were 2,000 entries and each took a minute or two. If I didn't have anything better to do I would be doing that for like four hours. It was so ridiculous!"

Number of hours spent per week on challenging tasks versus tedious ones, approximately:
"As I built a stronger relationship with people, I got to do a lot more interesting stuff. It was probably 50/50 or better of really interesting stuff that I was doing."

Access to principals/bigwigs at company:
"The bigwig was the guy who hired me, Maurice [the publisher]. He was a great guy. He's as big as you can get at Dirt Rag. I would ride with him on weekends. I could walk upstairs and knock on his door. He was constantly walking by and checking how I was doing or asking me to help him out."

Skills gained or honed, if any:
"I learned how to work in an office. With trails right outside and pinball machines in the basement, I learned how to manage my time, especially with deadlines."

How this helped focus what you want to do:
"I could definitely see myself having some sort of career in [journalism]. It gave me a better insight -- what's glamorous and what's not in the industry and the magazine. Working at a place like Dirt Rag is such a different environment that it taught me a different way to do things. So hopefully I can put a little Dirt Rag in everything I do from now on."

How this helped focus what you don't want to do:
"For the most part, it was all positive."

Most interesting/eccentric characters you encountered on the job:
"The people you meet working with bikes are all so different and there are so many personalities I couldn't put my finger on just one."

Most triumphant moment you had during internship:
"It might have been when the news briefs finally went through. It was a group idea and I definitely helped implement it. It may have also been something as simple as the day I rode to work when it was 3 degrees out."

Most awkward moment you had during the internship:
"I was living on my own and living on the cheap and people were really helping me out and there were times when I felt like I was overstepping my bounds. Or when I needed a question answered and didn't know how to go about doing it."

Most eye-opening moment about how people behave in a work situation:
"Maybe the lack of communication in some cases. Sometimes people had everything together and sometimes they just didn't know what was going on."

-- Alexis Miller


Intern's name:
Anna Schardt

Company:
Lee Shore Agency (one of the only literary agencies in Pittsburgh)

Department:
"It's a very small agency, consisting of a CEO, editor-in-chief and two literary agents. I worked under one of the literary agents."

Number of hours per week you were supposed to work:
15 hours

Number of hours per week you actually worked:
"I averaged about 15. If during any given week I worked more than that, it was by my choice. Either I got to work early, or I chose to stay late if I was working on a project that I didn't want to put down."

Length of internship:
Three months

Financial compensation, if any:
None

Perks, if any:
"No material perks. The perks had to do more with the experience and the contacts."

Decor:
"Very laid back. The building they're in seems like a really big house."

Tone:
"Very laid back, but not to the point of being unprofessional. The people that I worked with are also very young, in their 20s -- except for the CEO. I think that had a lot to do with it."

Style of dress:
"T-shirts and jeans mostly because we don't really see our clients in person. Most of the contact is on the phone and e-mail."

Range of tasks performed:
"I answered query phone calls and letters from people wanting to know more about agency." She sent out brochures and information packets, read submissions from potential clients, edited the manuscripts and wrote five-page feedback letters to the authors giving her criticism. She also marketed manuscripts to publishing houses once the agency had signed and worked with an author.

Most challenging/rewarding task:
"The evaluation of the manuscripts was definitely the most challenging. You want to be thorough, but you have to read a 300- to 400-page manuscript pretty quickly. You want to be kind and yet critical. There were a lot of times when I doubted myself, 'Am I really saying the right things?'" When she showed her feedback to her boss, she was always told that she was on the right track. "It seemed like I earned their trust immediately. My boss didn't always look over things before it was sent back to the author. I was treated pretty much as an equal. That was very rewarding."

Most tedious task at job:
"I had to count out a thousand pens of each title [as a marketing gimmick for a book convention] and send them back to the manufacturer. I had to sit in this room alone and count to myself. And every time someone walked by or said hi to me, I lost track and had to start all over again. It took me hours."

Number of hours spent per week on challenging tasks versus tedious ones, approximately:
"The tasks weren't exactly tedious; there were just some more methodical ones -- things that I had to do every day. But they were all challenging. The more challenging tasks took up about one-third of my time."

Access to big wigs at company, if any:
"Very, very little. I'm not even sure if [the CEO] knew my name. She wasn't in the office a lot, but when she was she would pretty much stay in her office at the end of the hall. I only transferred phone calls to her. She never ate lunch with us, and she never struck up a conversation with me."

Skills gained or honed, if any:
"I had to find a way to give criticism is a good way, to blend criticism with compliments."

How this helped focus what you want to do:
"I've decided that it's exactly what I want to do. I have had two internships before that I enjoyed, but they didn't stir a passion in me. At my first week [at Lee Shore Agency], I knew it is what I want to do."

How this helped focus what you don't want to do:
"I think I'd rather be on the publishing-house side of the field. I enjoyed marketing, but I don't think I was particularly good at it. I also think I would like to work in an atmosphere that's a little less laid back. A bigger company, probably."

Most interesting/eccentric characters you encountered on the job:
"Some clients would call every single day who just have no clue how the process works, who don't understand why they aren't famous yet. People want to publish the strangest things." Sometimes she got questions like, "Do I have to type my manuscript before I send it to you?" and "What is a margin? What is a font?" "We get lots of submissions from people in prison. They have a lot of time to think and very little to do, and they have no access to typewriters or computers, so we receive piles of handwritten pages from them."

Most triumphant moment you had during internship:
The first time her boss approved her feedback letter to an author, which was during her first week on the job.
Most awkward moment you had during the internship:
When an upset client would call and she had to deal with it. "People can be rude and belligerent."
Most eye-opening moment about how people behave in a work situation:
"The employees had three different modes they could be in: 'dealing with a client' mode (respectful, accommodating, please's and thank you's); 'talking to the boss' mode (not talking so much, taking orders); and 'lunch/venting' mode (very conversational, laid back, humorous, sarcastic). People switch gears a lot depending on the task they have in front of them or the people that are around. I had never really seen that before."
--Whitney Hess


Intern's name:
Lisa Remby
Company:
City Theatre
Department:
Marketing
Number of hours per week you were supposed to work:
20
Number of hours per week you actually worked:
20
Length of internship:
Approximately 15 weeks
Financial compensation, if any:
Yes. (Declined to give exact figure.)
Perks, if any:
Full-season subscriptions to City Theatre Productions.
Decor:
Renovated church. With cubicles.
Tone:
Relaxed
Style of dress:
Business casual
Range of tasks performed:
"I worked with the box office to pull lists of people that had purchased tickets, and did a focus group about the psychology behind how people make decisions about going to the arts."
Most rewarding task:
"I came up with an idea to do a collaboration with the Warhol."
Most tedious task:
(No response.)
Numbers of hours spent per week on challenging tasks versus tedious ones:
"Nineteen to one."
Access to principals/big wigs at company, if any:
"Constant."
Skills gained or honed, if any:
"As a consulting-slash-internship gig, this was the largest company that I had worked with."
How this helped focus what you want to do:
(No response.)
How this helped focus what you don't want to do:
(No response.)
Most interesting/eccentric character you encountered:
"Anthony Rapp as Hedwig. Or sometimes just his wig and shoes. Make of that what you like."
Most triumphant moment you had during internship:
"When I finished my focus groups."
Most awkward moment you had during the internship:
"I was out front eating Dairy Queen almost every day. Sitting out front, outside the theater, like having my afternoon Dairy Queen every day. That's about the most embarrassing thing. Having everybody know that I'm like some ice-cream whore."
Most eye-opening moment about how people behave in work situations:
(No response.)
-- Philip Stephenson


Intern's Name:
Craig Zamboldi
Company:
Pennsylvania Brewing Company
Department:
Marketing
Number of hours per week you were supposed to work:
24
Number of hours per week you actually worked:
20
Length of internship:
5 weeks/120 hours/3 credits
Financial Compensation:
$1,000 bonus at end if all requirements met
Perks:
"Free beer, free shirts, free glasses, free tickets to events"
Decor:
Laid back
Tone:
Laid back
Range of tasks performed:
Sales, promotions, bottling, samplings, pouring beer at brewery events
Most challenging/rewarding task:
"Doing promotions, or trying to talk a bunch of people who are drinking Coors Light into trying a higher-priced and higher-quality beer. Many people liked Penn's beer because it was a little stronger and it gets them drunk faster. I also got to meet a lot of different people while doing my promos."
Most tedious task:
No response
Number of hours per week on challenging tasks versus tedious ones:
No response
Access to principals/big wigs at company:
"It is a smaller company so I got to talk to the owner on a daily basis."
Skills gained or honed:
"This internship has helped me mostly in the sales aspect of what I was doing. Just being personal and getting managers of my accounts to buy Penn's beer. I also got to sit in on many of the marketing/advertising decisions that my superiors made."
How this job focused what you want to do:
"I am a marketing major and I think that after this internship, I want to get into sales at least for a few years out of school."
How it focused what you don't want to do:
"I don't want to do any physical labor after working this internship. I have had a lot of physical labor summer jobs, and using your head is a lot easier than using brawn."
Most interesting/eccentric character(s) you encountered on the job (names not necessary):
"There are many interesting people in this industry. I will say that most of the people that I dealt with on a daily basis were very sarcastic and always joking around. It makes coming into work more enjoyable than having only a serious tone throughout the course of your day. ... There were some guys that just loved to drink. Every time I saw them they were either drinking or planning on when they were going to drink."
Most triumphant moment during my internship:
"[We did] a promo before the Bruce Springsteen concert down by PNC Park. I drank more beer that day than I had all summer. Once our promo had finished we went into the concert and I had a blast. Normally I would have never gone to a Springsteen show, but by the end I was singing songs that I didn't know that I knew the words to."
Most awkward moment:
"Having to take care of my friend's girlfriend after a promotion. She had lost her keys and her debit card, and dropped her cell phone in the toilet. He was so drunk that he was MIA. After driving back to where her car was, we found out that her keys were still in her ignition with the doors locked and the car had been running for at least five hours. So we called AAA and they opened up her car. It was unbelievable that the car still had gas."
Most eye-opening moment about how people behave in a work situation:
"I always thought of businesspeople as strict and serious, but I have come to find out that many people are just as childish as many of my college buddies. One of the guys I had worked with outside the brewery was getting a few posters from one of his colleagues. When he was dropping them off he had a portfolio with him that he always carried around. The guy I know went out and put a gay porn magazine in his portfolio. When he opened it up at a meeting later that day the magazine fell out, leaving him speechless and a little red."
-- Robbie Whelan


Intern's name:
Toby Zdarko
Company:
Giant Eagle
Department:
Pharmacy
Number of hours per week you were supposed to work:
25
Number of hours per week you actually work:
"Around 25."
Length of Internship:
"Well there's no set length. You just have to finish 750 hours. I've been doing this for about 2 ½ years now."
Financial compensation:
$11 per hour
Perks:
"Not really, no. We don't get anything -- not even discounts."
Decor:
"Well it's a pharmacy, you know? Nothing really stands out. We've got the main counter with the register, the shelves in the back, and it's all painted bone-white."
Tone:
"It's very casual behind the counter. We all joke around with each other. It's actually a pretty good time. But with the customers we have to be more formal."
Style of dress:
"We all have to wear the white lab coat, and guys have to wear a shirt and tie with closed-toe shoes. The girls have to wear stockings or socks, with no open-toed shoes."
Range of tasks:
Counsel patients, ring people up at the register, help people find stuff -- help them shop, fill prescriptions, call the doctors to check the prescriptions' legitimacy
Most challenging/rewarding task:
"In general, counseling the patients. It can get pretty difficult trying to convince them that you know what's going on when they don't think you do. They ask you questions and you've gotta show them you know what's up."
Most tedious task:
"Just dealing with patients who are impatient. They don't understand what it takes to fill a prescription and expect it to be ready as soon as they get there. Some people start yelling because they don't want to wait those 15 minutes."
Number of hours/week spent on challenging tasks vs. tedious ones:
"For interns, it's about 50/50. The pharmacists mainly just check the prescriptions. We council the patients and fill prescriptions, but the pharmacist oversees everything and has the final say. The general housekeeping and ringing people up are left to the interns."
Access to principals/big wigs:
"We work directly with the head pharmacist."
Skills gained:
"I've learned a lot. It's one thing to go to school and sit and take notes and listen to the teacher lecture. We're put in a real setting and have to come up with stuff off the top of our heads without having our notes to look to. It's really beneficial."
How this helped focus what you want to do:
"It made me realize what area of pharmacy I want to do. Like you can work in a hospital, do research, do the business administration side, work for insurance companies, be a drug rep -- there's a lot of options. I realized I want to stay with a chain, like Giant Eagle."
How this helped focus what you don't want to do:
"Well hospitals are extremely conservative and I can't stand that. Chains are looser and more low-key and you get to see and interact with people more. Sometimes in a hospital you get stuck in a basement and don't see people all day. That would drive me nuts. Chains are more laid back."
Most interesting character you encountered on the job:
"I guess the pharmacy manager. He's awesome. He's really the best guy to work for. He's just off the wall, keeps everyone in a good mood, and always has crazy funny stories. He's hilarious."
Most triumphant moment:
"One time this old man left his prescription at the counter and left. I knew he paid for it, so I had to chase him through the parking lot. I caught him at his car. I guess that was pretty triumphant."
Most awkward moment:
"The most awkward parts are when someone asks you a question and you don't know the answer. They expect you to know the stuff and I personally feel awkward when I'm supposed to be the expert and I have to look something up."
Most eye-opening moment:
"When you work in a busy store like that, it's interesting to see how some people get all flustered while others aren't affected as much. It's just pretty interesting watching people fun around, and how people handle situations. In general, I'm pretty laid back. I'm just like 'whatever' when people start yelling. The job won't get done any better if you race through everything."

-- Jeannette Kaczorowski


Intern's Name:
Elissa Allen
Company:
Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium
Department:
Animal Health
Number of hours per week you were supposed to work:
40
Number of hours per week actually worked:
40
Length of Internship:
June-August, 2003
Financial Compensation:
Unpaid
Perks, If Any:
None
Decor:
Rainforest chic
Tone:
"It can be a very fun and productive environment. But when you're dealing with a high-stress case, like knocking down (which means when you put an animal under anesthesia) a lion, things aren't usually that laid back. If you're dealing with the chinchillas and bunnies, then it's a completely different story."
Style of Dress:
Khaki pants and T-shirts that say, "Staff."
Range of tasks performed:
"I get things set up for most procedures. I measure the anesthetics, and write up the medical records. Sometimes I draw blood or perform the entire exam. Right now I'm learning and practicing blow-darting."
Most challenging/rewarding task:
"A week or so ago we knocked down a cheetah. I got to do the catheter placement and put injections into the eye. I've also learned a lot about animal husbandry and how to make the environment for animals like ferrets and rabbits stimulating enough for them."
Most tedious task at job:
"This is my second year at this internship and last year I did a lot of paper-shredding. Another somewhat tedious job is mopping up the floor. I mean it's all in a medical context, but I'm glad that I don't have to do it as much anymore."
Number of hours spent on challenging tasks versus tedious ones:
No response
Access to bigwigs at company:
"Oh, we see them all the time. I just saw some of them two days ago. They walked in and chatted with everyone and it was fine."
Skills gained or honed:
"I'm definitely getting better at writing medical records. Last year I wasn't as good at it. I've also gotten better at looking at parasites under the microscope. And, when I'm doing an exam I can actually feel the organs and distinguish them from one another."
How this helped you focus what you want to do:
"Well, I know I want to do zoo medicine. I've always wanted to do zoo medicine, but this internship has really helped me learn how the zoo works, the hierarchy and the politics. Everything's a challenge but I always learn a lot."
How this has helped you focus on what you don't want to do:
No response.
Most interesting/eccentric character you've encountered on the job:
"The binturong. He has this strange habit that whenever anyone comes into his cage he wants you to lean down and put your head to his nose so he can smell your hair. If you don't lean down, he will actually grab you and pull you down. The first time it happened to me I was kind of like, 'Ah, what's going on here?'"
Most triumphant moment during internship:
No response
Most awkward moment during internship:
No response
Most eye-opening moment about how people behave in a work situation:
No response
-- April Artz


Intern's name:
Carole Flounders
Company:
Pittsburgh Council for International Visitors
Department:
International Relations
Numbers of hours per week you were supposed to work:
150 hours for the summer (three months)
Number of hours per week you actually worked:
150 hours
Length of internship:
Three months
Financial compensation:
None
Perks:
"Not really. But I got a going-away cake."
Decor:
"Very professional. There was a computer at every desk, with separate rooms for the head coordinators."
Tone:
"It was pretty laid back. With each other, we were casual, but with the contacts and hosts, we had to be formal."
Style of dress:
Business attire, no open-toed shoes.
Range of tasks:
Clerical, data entry, answering phones, calling contacts, coordinating hospitality dinners and events, finding interpreters, drivers and home-stays for international visitors
Most challenging/rewarding task:
"Calling people out of the blue who knew nothing of the organization and seeing if they could house an international visitor or student for a couple of weeks or months. It was hard asking people to share their home when they didn't know what we were about. I also had to host a group from Japan and give them a tour around Pittsburgh. That was pretty hard."
Most tedious task:
"I once had to put together 50 welcome booklets for a group. Also, I had to run errands around Downtown in hot weather. Once I had to carry a huge heavy box from Oakland to Downtown in 90-degree heat, not quite knowing where I was going. Obviously I was taking the bus, 'cause I don't have a car."
Challenging task to tedious task ratio:
No response
Access to big wigs:
"Yeah, they're always around."
Skills gained:
"Really just communication skills. Like cross-cultural communication, and computer and professional skills. And the organization and techniques you need to successfully work in a professional environment."
How this helped focus what you want to do:
"Well, my career goals involve marketing, sales, and advertising, and this experience helped me learn more about that. I now know that I am really interested in international relations."
How this helped focus what you don't want to do:
"I know I don't ever want to work for free or be someone's bitch and carry boxes. I don't want to work in a profession that doesn't have a meaningful purpose. PCIV does. [It's] funded by the U.S. State Department and it wants to make relations between international visitors and Western Pennsylvania better. I think that's pretty cool."
Most interesting personality you met on the job:
"There was this really awesome guy named Nori. He was an international student from Japan, and was finishing his masters at CMU with this internship. He was just amazing: He had a way of keeping everyone in the office in a good mood and having fun, and he loved adventure and was learning all different languages. It was inspirational."
Most triumphant moment:
"When everything just clicked. When I knew how things worked and I felt comfortable and competent in doing things on my own. They had me sit in the front of the office at the 'big' desk and I was in charge of answering most of the phone calls."
Most awkward moment:
"The first time I tried to make a phone call, I had to set up an appointment between a well-known professor and an international group coming in. When I called the professor, I sounded like a complete idiot. I got nervous, so all of my words became jumbled and unclear. Then I couldn't really explain why I was calling in the first place. They had no clue either."
Most eye-opening moment:
"I realized that there are times to have fun and to joke around with each other. Everyone in my office were friends, but there are also serious and stressful times where people in the office will stop being and acting like your friend and turn into your co-worker. I realized that you can't take things to heart or take things personally, especially when things are stressed."
-- Jeannette Kaczorowski


Intern's name:
Anthony Chiu
Company:
Coro Center for Civic Leadership
Department:
Fellowship in public affairs
Number of hours per week you were supposed to work:
50-60
Number of hours per week you actually worked:
50-60
Length of internship:
9 months
Financial compensation, if any:
Yes. (Declined to give exact figure.)
Perks, if any:
Meeting Pittsburgh's movers and shakers
Decor:
"Changed, as our fellowship took us into government, business, nonprofit, and labor settings."
Tone:
Chiu says the tone varied as much as the times of day he saw the other Coro fellows. "This is not your normal internship. I think I literally saw everyone in my group at each hour of the day at some point in the 9 months. I have seen everyone at least once at both 3 p.m. and 3 a.m."
Style of dress:
"Again, this changed, as our fellowship took us into government, business, nonprofit, and labor settings. Of course, we were expected to be on the more formally dressed side."
Range of tasks performed:
"Map tax-delinquent properties, track federal and state funding streams flowing into Pittsburgh, draft a briefing book for county council budget deliberations, recruit artists to perform at polling sites on Election Day, catalogue Pittsburgh's Downtown public art, among others."
Most challenging/rewarding task:
"Focus days, which were days filled with multiple interviews on a certain theme, such as media, health, or public finance. These days were the best because they allowed our group to engage these issues by talking to people who were directly influencing them every day."
Most tedious task at job:
"We had more group meetings than I even want to remember or think about. Convincing 16 co-workers to agree or go along on anything is very difficult and time-consuming."
Number of hours spent per week on challenging tasks versus tedious ones, approximately:
"40/20. Sure, you're not always doing glorious tasks, but in your Coro placements, usually your supervisor is trying to get you as much exposure to their world and organization as possible.
Access to principals/big wigs at company, if any:
"Extensive. Supervisors who are generous enough to open their organizations to you want you to have a good experience and understand how it works. Mine went out of their way to take me to meetings and offer a look at what happens behind closed doors.
Skills gained or honed, if any:
Interviewing, listening, observing.
How this helped focus what you want to do:
One of my supervisors was well-placed in the community, and shadowing him was probably the most educational experience I've ever had, just in terms of seeing how the combination of resources and relationships gets problems solved. It also confirmed my pre-existing belief that more change can be accomplished from the inside. It definitely made me reconsider the meaning and purpose of some of the activist work I used to do in school.
How this helped focus what you don't want to do:
Nonprofit work on the ground is difficult and often more thankless than I want to deal with. Often, they are tackling big, far-reaching problems that will take years to show change or results.
Most interesting/eccentric character you encountered on the job:
"One of my supervisors 'performed' poetry and awkwardly hit on one of my colleagues. Not good times."
Most triumphant moment you had during internship:
"I worked a long time on my final report for my business placement, and getting that done felt great."
Most awkward moment you had during the internship:
"I made one of my colleagues cry by implying that she wasn't committed to the group, which for her is probably one of the worst insults I could have come up with. Yeah, that wasn't so good."
Most eye-opening moment about how people behave in a work situation:
"I was surprised by incompetency and the different approaches I saw in dealing with it. At a couple placements, there was some obvious deadweight that was widely confirmed by other employees, but nothing being done about it. In contrast, two other organizations I worked at turned over one-third of their staff in the previous year and didn't seem to have any trouble letting go of people.
-- Philip Stephenson

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