CriticalDance Forum

On Becoming an Intern
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Author:  salzberg [ Mon Mar 12, 2001 12:06 pm ]
Post subject:  On Becoming an Intern

<BR>This summer, I'll be in a theatre where I'll primarily be dealing with interns. In order to try to head off the types of problems that so often recur, I'm writing a little note that I've tentatively titled, "On Becoming an Intern". It's by no means finished (it's barely started, actually), but here's what I've got so far: <P>=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-= <BR> 1. You've undoubtedly learned a lot in 4-5 years of college, but please remember that after 4-5 years of college followed by 25 years of professional experience, we've undoubtedly learned more. <P> 2. The concept of an internship is that you provide labor in return for professional experience, contacts, and (when feasible) training. You were not hired for your design skills; nor were you hired to teach us the right way to do things. When there's time, I'd love to hear your suggestions, and might accept some of them, but often there will not be time. I will always, however, answer your questions, although I might ask you to wait a day or two before asking them. <P> 3. In college, you were taught one way to do things. In arts, there's rarely only one right way to do things. I don't claim to know everything, but I'm the world's leading authority on the way I want things done. <P>=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-= <P>Comments and suggestions are always welcome.<P>------------------<BR>Jeffrey E. Salzberg, Lighting Designer<P>Online portfolio: <A HREF="" TARGET=_blank></A> <BR>This Day in Arts History: <A HREF="" TARGET=_blank></A><P><BR>

Author:  Christina [ Mon Mar 12, 2001 12:56 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: On Becoming an Intern

DearSalzberg:<P>I hope the following assists you in some way.<P>By the time I was 30 or so, I was a pretty seasoned newspaper and magazine journalist, with thousands of stories under my belt. I decided that I wanted to try my hand at freelancing. I also realized that I needed to find a balance between time to do this freelancing and having a little "bread and butter" money. About six blocks from my home was a small ad agency, which hired me on as a part-time afternoon receptionist. I didn't mention anything about my experience or awards. I answered the phone, greeted clients and talent and vendors, etc., and typed anything the writers, etc. asked me to do for them. <P>Every Tuesday evening, the president of the agency had an after hours meeting with several partners he had invested in another business with. It was my job to make sure a new pot of coffee was made every Tuesday for them before I went home. Being the sort of person who likes to do anything with a certain element of enthusiasm, I would not only make the coffee, but tidy up the *******, and set out the china, silver, napkins and condiments just so. For a time, I was not even introduced to the president of the agency, (who also had a reputation as something of an SOB with a temper). <P>One day, he walked by my desk and asked me if I was the one setting up the coffee every Tuesday night. He commented that until recently, no one had ever set up the coffee that way, and that it looked like Santa and the elves had been there. He continued to chat with me, opining that young people would do well to not enter a job situation with the notion that "well, this isn't what I really want to do anyway, so why should I care about this place" or "I'm better than this position because of my degree, pedigreed, etc." As he continued to talk to me, he elicited information about my writing background and asked me if I would like to take a stab at a few projects for him on a freelance basis. Not long after that, I was wooed to join an ad agency as a publicity writer, but I kept in touch with this fellow. When the agency I was with went bankrupt, he invited me to come over to his agency and work full-time as a copywriter/producer. Although I had a background as a print and tv journalist, and a publicist, I did not know anything about writing commercials. I thought, "what the heck," and decided to try my hand at this new venue, with a baptism by fire. In a very short time, I was right in the thick of producing tv and radio (along with print) ads from conceiving the idea to writing the copy to hiring the talent to supervising the production of the final project. It was a great way to broaden my career as a writer -- and it all started out with caring enough to make a nice cup of coffee. <P>

Author:  Basheva [ Mon Mar 12, 2001 12:59 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: On Becoming an Intern

Is the phrase "Comments and suggestions are always welcome" part of your intern statement or is that seeking input from this forum?<P>If it is seeking some input - mine would be:<P>Perhaps a little more welcoming and positive in the beginning or your statement? <P>

Author:  DavidH [ Mon Mar 12, 2001 1:09 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: On Becoming an Intern

Salzberg, <BR>Please,please, I beg you to develop some kind of orientation for your interns. Put it in writing, give them a tour, inform them of policies,rules,regulations,etc right off the bat. I can't stand the "read our minds management style."(and I'm not implying you'll do that)but when I interned as a pastry assistant, it was so negative and frought with condescention that I left the field completely. The company I currently work for gives an amazing introduction to the company and how and why they do things the way they do. In only 7 months of working here I was awarded employee of the month and it was all due to the way they brought me in to this line of business. I plan on having my own business one day, and if there's anything I will take from this job is how to orientate people well. <BR>D<p>[This message has been edited by DavidH (edited March 12, 2001).]

Author:  salzberg [ Mon Mar 12, 2001 1:32 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: On Becoming an Intern

Yes, Basheva, I am soliciting comments from the forum. Your suggestion for a more welcoming intro is well-taken, but remember that I haven't written the intro yet; what I've posted above is just a few of the points I plan to make.<P>Christina, with your permission, I'd like to include your story in the piece, attributed, of course.<P>DavidH: I always do a tour/orientation. This time, it'll be complicated by the fact that *I* will be seeing the facility for the first time.<P><BR>Keep those comments coming!

Author:  Christina [ Mon Mar 12, 2001 1:58 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: On Becoming an Intern

Yes, of course, you have my permission. I've told that story several times through the years when I thought it could be of help. <P>I think it actually goes back to the days when, as the oldest girl of 10 children, I needed a job in order to pitch in with the mounting cost of private tuition, uniforms, etc. How was a 15-year-old to find something other than babysitting (which didn't quite cut the mustard, financially). 16 was the beginning hiring age and, at that, it was highly competitive. I lived in a fairly large city, however, back in the days when department stores abounded. Each one chose its annual "Teen Board," comprised of one girl selected from each high school in the city. They were supposed to be "models" in every sense of the word. Our high school guidance counselor wouldn't consider a girl unless she had a high grade point as well as a pert face. She sent 4 of us to try out, and I was shocked, after undergoing runway and interview, to be selected. <P>My lovely reign, alas, ended, as they must, after one year. My senior year in high school was spent (30 hours a week for $1.30 per hour) in a college *******, bussing dishes, scrubbing floors, polishing a myriad of chrome coolers and appliances, and -- my favorite, up to my elbows, on many occasions, in a sink full of water and chicken parts. <P>All things must pass -- the good and the bad. Hopefully, it more or less evens out as we go along.

Author:  Basheva [ Mon Mar 12, 2001 4:30 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: On Becoming an Intern

I think you are right, Christina - it does often even out. Heaven knows I more than paid my dues as a child. Those times have made me stronger - but it was not fun at the time - at all.<P>I find that I usually respond best to a positive challenge. But if it is something I really want - nothing will stop me. <P>I took on a position once as an administrative assistant for a very large out patient psychiatric center. AFter a couple of months I told them that I could revamp their entire computer accounting system and save them money. They told me to go ahead - if I failed I would lose my job. Within three months I had done it - and was promoted in charge of all non-medical support systems within the practice - and then advanced to do the same for the inpatient facility also. That was a positive challenge.<P>I think that positive challenges work.

Author:  Stuart Sweeney [ Mon Mar 12, 2001 10:02 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: On Becoming an Intern

I agree entirely about setting positive challenges Basheva. However, I have to say that the threat of losing your job seems like a negative challenge to me and a good way to stifle initiative in many cases.

Author:  Basheva [ Tue Mar 13, 2001 6:01 am ]
Post subject:  Re: On Becoming an Intern

Actually Stuart - it was not a threat - it was an economic necessity for the group if I had not succeeded. It was a way for me to keep my job. <P>I should have made that clearer.<p>[This message has been edited by Basheva (edited March 13, 2001).]

Author:  Azlan [ Tue Mar 13, 2001 6:52 am ]
Post subject:  Re: On Becoming an Intern

DavidH, I would also add mentoring to the orientation. There is so much beyond office mechanics when bringing someone on; there is a whole informal structure within an organization that needs to be learned as well.

Author:  Christina [ Tue Mar 13, 2001 9:05 am ]
Post subject:  Re: On Becoming an Intern

Two more things:<P>Re: Mentoring<BR>Make sure that while you mentor, they start WRITING IT DOWN. Notebook and pen are a necessity. I can't tell you how often I have asked people I'm being extremely comprehensive and patient with to do this only to have them ask basic questions in the future. If I ever find myself in that position again, I will simply stop speaking when they stop writing. It takes so much energy to explain things time and again. Not to make notes while someone is giving you valuable information is inefficient and rude.<P>No. 2: Basheva, that's quite a feat. Would you be equally impressed -- LOL -- if I told you that my father, ready to throw the swing set out, had second thoughts and instead presented me with sand paper, primer and paint, and asked me to take a stab at redoing it. I spent weeks the summer after high school graduation, creating this freehand work of art, much to the joy of my younger brothers and sisters. All in all, my favorite chore while growing up.

Author:  salzberg [ Tue Mar 13, 2001 11:27 am ]
Post subject:  Re: On Becoming an Intern

I'm not sure that "writing it down" is a practical suggestion for an electrics intern in summer stock. There's little time and they tend to be atop ladders and catwalks with tools in their hands.

Author:  DavidH [ Tue Mar 13, 2001 12:09 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: On Becoming an Intern

Excellent suggestion Azlan. Mentoring is big in the company I work for as well. Salzberg,how about encouraging them to keep a journal then, something they can keep forever and ever! :-) <P>D

Author:  Christina [ Tue Mar 13, 2001 1:32 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: On Becoming an Intern

Salzberg:<P>Think of the balance they'll attain. Someday, they may even qualify as expert jewel thieves, a la Cary Grant. <p>[This message has been edited by Christina (edited March 13, 2001).]

Author:  Christina [ Tue Mar 13, 2001 1:37 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: On Becoming an Intern

An alternative suggestion:<P>Maybe you could take some time prior to their initiation to compose a few songs to enhance their retaining of knowledge:<P>I'm a curmudgeon<BR>Come and follow me<BR>High along the catwalk<BR>Just like up a tree<P>You'll learn to light a dancer's face<BR>And capture all her natural grace<BR>But if you fall, please don't forget<BR>Down below, no safety net!<P><BR>

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