World’s Shortest Internship

This year is a big state election year to fill the major offices — governor, lieutenant governor, etc. — and a few months ago I saw a sign for one of the candidates, and recognized the name as someone I worked for as an intern during my senior year. At the time, he was a representative in the SC House and ran a PR agency with his father. I’m not giving up a name or the office he was running for, but I’ll spill that he’s a Republican and he didn’t win the primary this past month. And if memory serves me correctly, he was a bit “huskier” back in 1994.

At first I thought the experience would be exciting. I got a little spoiled from the internship I had had over the summer, working for the local weekly paper. I got to do one or two stories a week, and I voluntarily spent my Tuesday evenings helping to paste up the pages to send to press. That’s right; we were old school.

So, from that experience, my overactive imagination had me running around the state capitol doing everything but running press conferences during this second internship. I was a little off from that assumption, and by “little,” I mean waaaayyy off — “off” as in my dream was on one side of the state, and the reality was on the other.

Tuesday and Thursday mornings were my scheduled days. When I showed up on the first Tuesday, I met the previously mentioned candidate (let’s just call him Mr. X) who introduced me to the artistic director. She then sat me down at the front desk and handed me a stack of newspapers. My first tasks were to answer the phone and look through the papers and cut out any articles that mentioned the candidates the agency represented (1994 being another big state election year).

The phone was what got to me. It didn’t ring incessantly, but I have no receptionist skills whatsoever. Things got worse when Mr. X.’s father received a call, and I patched it through without asking who was calling. I still remember the flinch I made when he asked who was on the line and I said I didn’t know. I wanted to go curl up under the pile of newspapers I was going through.

On Thursday, I returned to the same duties, except with the reminder that Papa X likes to know who’s calling. The next Tuesday? Same deal, and that’s when I realized that there would be no running around the state capitol and that I might end up spending the whole semester answering the phone. And that was the deal breaker.

Cutting out newspaper articles would have been fine. Stuffing envelopes would have been just peachy. Picking up dry-cleaning and lunch orders would have been welcomed with open arms. Just don’t make me pick up that damn phone.

Now, I know I could have branched out, broken out of my comfort zone, and sucked it up to be the office peon. (Hell, I feel like a peon now at work. I could have been forewarned about the experience.) I probably would have made some contacts and seen some behind-the-scenes aspects of an election year.

Instead, I went to my advisor and switched my internship to the PR office on campus, where I was writing every day I showed up. I think I made the right decision for the long run. I could have ended up working for Republicans. *shudder*


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