There are two major reasons people come to GW. One, they didn’t get in to Georgetown. Two, they’ve come to take advantage of the fabulous internship opportunities so flaunted by those perky Visitor’s Center employees.
Issue one, I can’t help you with, sorry. Internship survival however, I know something about, so let me break it down for you.
There are four types of internships in the world: those that are cool and pay, those that are cool but don’t pay, those that suck but pay and those that suck and don’t pay.
Congratulations if you’ve landed type one; you’re smarter than I am. You can stop reading and skip right to the crossword puzzle. Those that have type three- no wonder you didn’t get into Georgetown. Don’t work for free unless you’re gaining valuable experience and/or it’s fun.
Types two and four are the trickiest. As I currently hold both of those types of jobs right now, I can tell you with all honesty I’d rather work overtime at my cool job and not get paid than sit for one more excruciating minute more than I have to at the job I do get paid for. The advice I have for the type two job is to work hard, have fun and expect a paid position to follow.
Meanwhile, you have to pay the bills. Enter type four internship. I know it seems unbearable, but if you follow my simple tips it will seem like they are paying you to do nothing – and they will be.
This is good advice, so don’t let the little schpeel they give you on the first day about how you should consider nothing on your computer private or outside work-related matters. They told me that too. Obviously since I am writing this at work I don’t take it too seriously, so here we go.
As soon as I arrive at work I log onto my computer, then open up some random windows so it appears I am being productive. Always try and have one spreadsheet or graphical window like Access or Power Point, and several Word documents so it looks like you’re multi-tasking. Note: this is for show only, never multi-task.
Once you look busy enough, just sit. As an experienced time-waster, I have perfected the art of sitting. I once stared at a blank wall for three hours without blinking, and was commended by my boss for my hard work. For you beginners, or those who show slight symptoms of ADD, I suggest you count something, like ceiling tiles. As your time-wasting skills progress, you will be able to sit for hours and look productive without the slightest work-related thought in your mind.
Now, just because you are not doing any work doesn’t mean your workday should lack structure, in fact I advise just the opposite. Make detailed lists of how you are going to waste your time throughout the day. The more detailed the list, the better; I schedule my every fifteen minutes. Not only does this give you a false sense of accomplishment, writing out the lists is an excellent time waster in itself.
What to put on the list? Anything. I pencil in bathroom breaks (at least six per day). The key to this is to take a water bottle to work and keep refilling it at the office fountain. The more you drink, the more you have to pee. I try to go to the bathroom at least every 30 minutes. In fact I’ve gone four times today and it’s not even lunchtime yet.
Once your bathroom breaks are on your list you’ll need some office activities to take up some time. I like to divide these office “tasks” into three categories. 1) Work, 2) things that look like work and 3) things you don’t even pretend are like work but do anyway (Please be advised, use category one sparingly, if at all. I schedule about fifteen minutes of “real work” in every hour. So on any given seven-hour workday, I’d say I do no more than two and a half hours of actual work.)
You might start to feel bad at this point for wasting the company’s money and taking advantage of your boss like this. Don’t do that. Think of it this way – you are there for a set number of hours to do annoying, inane tasks. Even if you completed all the inane tasks in the world, you would still be there from 9 to 5. So why finish them as soon as you can when you are just going to get some more annoying stuff to do? Act like you really care about the letter you are typing that even a three-year-old chimp with a learning disability could type, and not only will you have less to do, you will look like you really care.
Now that the real stuff is out of the way, the fun begins. Items in category two are, but are not limited to, the following:
A) E-mail. Check e-mail often, it doesn’t matter if there is none there. If you feel inadequate when there is no new mail in your inbox, e-mail yourself. Once you see the bold message title, the excitement will be enough to make you feel like its real before you remember. Title the e-mail something witty so you can admire how funny you are in addition to what a good time waster you are. I find myself hilarious.
B) Voicemail. Re-record your outgoing message at least three times a day. This works best if, like me, no one ever calls you. I like to make up important titles and jobs for myself to take my mind off my real job, office bitch. Here is my current greeting. “Hi, you’ve reached the office of Lauren Silva, CEO and founder of Silva Investments Company Incorporated. I’m either getting blitzed on my lunch hour with some other top execs, or firing some incompetent underling. Leave a message, and if you need assistance dial the operator.”
C) Anything else typed at the computer or written on a legal pad looks productive. This column for example, has wasted a marvelous amount of time, and it looks just like work. In fact, I titled the document “important info,” that will fool them. Do anything – homework, calendars, fake Power-Point presentations. If you are typing away, they can’t deny you are vital and important to the company, which, of course, you are.
The last category is the most important, and therefore the most difficult to pull off. I advise sticking with category B for at least your first week. Then you’ll have the routine down well enough to bring a pillow and take a nap, step out for a three-hour lunch break, watch a DVD, read a book, play with Legos or mix a martini, to name a few, without getting caught.
Once you master these techniques, you will look forward to any job, no matter how pointless and menial it may be. Just remember to keep the interesting, educational job, because as much as I hate to admit it, there comes a time when even frivolous time-wasting gets old. As Milton from “Office Space” taught us all, boredom and frustration is not worth the mental breakdown.
-The writer, a senior majoring in English, is Hatchet sports editor.