Free Labor Pains

The internship. According to my favorite website (that doesn’t involve sneakers or gratuitous nudity), an intern is “someone who works in a temporary position with an emphasis on on-the-job training rather than merely employment.” They call it potato, I prefer to it as “glorified slave labor in the guise of a potential career-boosting opportunity.” Because I’m a cynic like that.

We’ve all had to do one in our lives one day, and while the idea of being the next Sean Combs type working our way up from a lowly intern to a person so enveloped in funds we can take bubble baths in Ciroc seems tempting, in reality you’ll still end up in some crappy position (which may or may not even be related to your internship at all; shouts to my first post-college position at Macy’s) which will underpay and overwork you for the first few years or so. Regardless, nearly all career choices involve having to do an apprenticeship of some kind, and if you want to do something that doesn’t involve questioning a patron if they prefer paper or plastic you’re more than likely going to have to do at least one. Here are a few things I learned while playing the role of a house mung-key at the various internships I did.

Prepare to be violated. Repeatedly. One of my first opportunities was working at various “urban” awards shows such as the VIBE Awards, and I spent more time running my hooptie’s engine into the ground getting everything from coffee to fancy-ass glasses I would never even drink out of myself, only to be “compensated” in ugly Jordan Brand sneakers, too-large Akademiks jeans and a face full of pepper spray once that one guy decided to polish his knuckle game on Dr. Dre’s face and got sporked by Young Buck for his troubles. I think he pushed back Detox alongside his teeth to boot.

Be willing to “sell out.” The term “sell out” is about as taboo as actually enjoying a one night stand with Kat Stacks. That said, unless you were cut from a t.I. hierarchy you’re going to have to go against your personal grain at first. Sucks, yes, but consider it one step closer to being a weed carrier.

You don’t have to take shit from anybody. While you’ll be subject to many personally degrading tasks the one thing you should never do is allow yourself to be walked over, because at the end of the day you’re still working for free. Always be willing to speak out if something rubs you the wrong way or – in my case – kick your boss out of your care and onto the freeway late at night should they ever have the gall to get out of pocket.