Intern Olympics ? exploiting na?vet? for course creditby Daedalus HowellNov 23, 2011 – 02:16 PM
It?s that time of year again, for those of us in the media game ? intern season. Time to bag some shiny, brand-spanking-new interns to replace the used-up, gnarly ones that have suffered the corrosive powers of capitalism while ?working? for despots like me. And by ?despots? I mean entrepreneurs, lauded for economy-boosting ?job creation? while actually exploiting the na?vet? of teenagers who thought they?d slum it in media for course credit.
As the fall semester winds down, the spring intern applications begin to trickle in. Ahh, there is nothing like a semester of sublime sadism to systematically replace youthful arrogance with anxiety and regret. You see, an internship is not an apprenticeship. Apprentices actually learn something, like carpentry. Or sorcery. I can guarantee my interns will learn little more than how to cork a bottle and wash my car. For this, I grant as many credits as they wish. To me, credits are as worthless as Monopoly money, which at least has inherent value to the game, whereas, in this sorry economy, a college diploma and a new grad?s resume are woeful wastes of wood pulp. They?re of better use mopping the flow from their parents? bank accounts than actually scoring a job. And an internship, remember, is not a job. It?s a gateway drug to a life of received notions of success drenched in masochism.
In some countries, a tradition of raising competent employees persists. In Germany, for example, they have a journeyman tradition that dates back to the Middle Ages. And they have wacky costumes to boot. Traditional journeyman garb consists of a broad-brimmed black hat, or a top hat if one prefers, black bell-bottoms and a ?stenz,? or curled walking stick. The look is finished with a gold earring and bangles, which might lead one to believe the journeyman can either ply their trade (usually carpentry) or join your band. This is apropos since they?re said to be ?on the waltz? while journeying, as it were, through the Teutonic countryside.
Yes, I?d rather my interns dressed in top hats and bell-bottoms than hoodies and flip-flops. And, yes, I?d rather they didn?t speak in, like, declarative interrogatives? But you get what you pay for. Still, I?m circumspect when conducting intern interviews. Here are some red flags that I endeavor to turn into checkered flags so as to better match the past of their future employer:
When a prospective intern says they?re ?good at multitasking,? this is code for ?I have ADD.? After a long, hard stare they generally offer up their Adderall prescription, which gets them hired on the spot. Not only does this prove that they?re willing to share, it also increases their relative street value.
If a would-be intern says, ?I?m a team player,? this refracts in my prismatic mind as ?I?ll take one for the team … And do all the work.? If they?re a ?team playa,? that means (red flag) they plan to have sex with the team. If they follow up on this with ?hate the game, not the playa,? I remind them that anyone who repeats such a shallow aphorism has as much depth as the tattoo on their lower back.
As an intern, you?re not just being asked to work for slave wages, which is to say nothing, you?re also being asked to sell out your generation. At heart, most media businesses have no idea what?s going on in terms of youth culture. Our interns are extremely valuable in this regard as they provide insight we?d otherwise have to pay a marketing firm to attain. And since all media companies are ultimately just marketing companies anyway, why be redundant?
And speaking of redundancy, bring a friend or two when you apply ? chances are we?ll burn you out in the first week and need a back up unit. Funny, that?s how I got my job.
To apply for a spring semester internship at FMRL, the Future Media Research Lab, email your 600 word essay ?Why Daedalus Howell is so Frickin? Brilliant? to firstname.lastname@example.org. Fair warning: You?re essay may be used for this column (and, yes, I?m keeping the fee, naturally).
This article appears in the News 2011 issue of Sonoma News
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Whilst tracking my site stats, I’ve noticed an appreciable uptick in the amount of traffic the searches “On Keeping a Notebook” and “Joan Didion” and other related searches that drive traffic to this post.
I suspect many of you are students charged with having to produce an essay on Didion’s masterful meditation on sifting one’s experience through the mesh of college ruled pages. You might have thought I might have a readymade solution for your deadline woes pasted here, ripe for the plucking. But I don’t. Instead, I’m going to wholeheartedly encourage you to read Didion’s essay — if you don’t have it, you can buy it here, from Amazon, for the price of a couple lattes. This?will also afford you the pleasure of her other works in the collection, each as enchanting and sometimes harrowing in their own way.
Perhaps you’ll be as inspired as I was when I first read it in college and thus began keeping my own notebooks in earnest as a result. Don’t cheat yourself, especially if you hope to be writer — encode her wisdom into your DNA and watch yourself grow new muscles, eyes, heart. Worked for me.
And if you’re returning to the essay like an old friend, it’s certainly worthy of revisiting. Especially since spaces like this blog can function as the digital equivalent of Didion’s “Dirty crepe-de-Chine wrapper, hotel bar, Wilmington RR…”
From Joan Didion’s On Keeping a Notebook
Why do I keep a notebook at all? It is easy to deceive oneself on all those scores. The impulse to write things down is a peculiarly compulsive one, inexplicable to those who do not share it, useful only accidentally, only secondarily, in the way that any compulsion tries to justify itself. I suppose that it begins or does not begin in the cradle. Although I have felt compelled to write things down since I was five years old, I doubt that my daughter ever will, for she is a singularly blessed and accepting child, delighted with life exactly as life presents itself to her, unafraid to go to sleep and unafraid to wake up. Keepers of private notebooks are a different breed altogether, lonely and resistant rearrangers of things, anxious malcontents, children afflicted apparently at birth with some presentiment of loss.
Art? Commerce? Ads? Who Cares!Some early examples of Siliwood Madness at its best
Henri De Toulouse-Lautrec’s Moulin Rouge Posters
Those alarmed at the increasing incidence of “serious” artists creating works for brands can take comfort, at least, in the fact that the art-marketing convergence is nothing new. Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec was, in part, an ad man. His fin de siecle posters of the colorful denizens of Paris’s Montmartre district, including dancers at the Moulin Rouge, were ads, paid for by the performers and local establishments and posted along the Boulevard de Clichy.
Procter & Gamble’s Soap Operas
Packaged-goods giant Procter & Gamble pioneered branded content with its sponsored radio serials (soap operas) in the 1930s. When attention spans moved from radio to TV, P&G dominated with shows such as Guiding Light. The last P&G-owned show, As the World Turns, was canceled in 2010, but the idea of this type of programming lives on.
The idea of brand-backed content wasn’t new in 2001 (see P&G) when BMW launched its online film series, The Hire, but the project marked the first web-focused entertainment campaign from a major brand and represented ad content as destination, not interruption. Created by agency Fallon with David Fincher consulting, the campaign also distinguished itself with the involvement of big- name stars (Gary Oldman, Don Cheadle, Madonna) and directors (John Frankenheimer, Ang Lee). BMW Films hit the ad business so hard that the Cannes ad festival, the industry’s top award show, had to create a new category–the Titanium Lion–to recognize it.
A tiny product with a gargantuan impact, Nike elegantly demonstrated to the ad industry how important technology had become to brand creativity. A collaboration with Apple and agency R/GA, the running app was an early example of marketing as utility instead of just message.
Apple Ipod and ITunes
Like many other world-changing products, the iPod wasn’t the first in its category. But it was the device that ended up blowing up the last vestiges of the music industry and our ideas of what a tech company could be. The covetable gadget represented the power of design, the convergence of tech and creative vision. With its companion iTunes store, it also represented the importance of content to a hardware maker and set Apple on the path to become one of the world’s most valuable companies.
The Art Archive/Paris France/Amoret Tanner Collection (Poster)
A version of this article appears in the December 2011/January 2012 issue of Fast Company.
Welcome To Co.Create Nation
Brands as patrons ??Finally acceptable to the art crowd? I can’t remember when I first “sold out” but I can say that my received notions of artistic integrity can’t hold a candle to living indoors. There was a strident strain of the “Us vs. Them” indie mentality that I caught in the 90s that probably cost me years of creative productivity. Patronage, wherever it’s from, is a tool ??it’s how you use it that matters. And, hey, Art School Robin Hood, if you’re feeling conflicted, pay it forward: You know where to find me.
How to make In Time: Mix equal parts Philip K. Dick and vintage Vonnegut, add a spritz of Logan’s Run, a twist of Alphaville and have Gattaca director Andrew Niccol serve it up with a wedge of Bonnie and Clyde. Then do a spit-take when Harlan Ellison sues you.