Happy Friday everyone, TGIF!
Recently, I’ve been inspired to begin my own blog, writing about different topics that interest me and advising my readers on health, beauty and fitness. It’s something I really enjoy doing, so I imagine my delight when I was asked to write a blog-style piece by my boss! Who said work can’t be fun? So here is my post on what to expect when taking part in an internship and the different experiences I have had as an intern.
I have been doing internships for a good few years now. My mother used to encourage (force) me to do them during summer holidays from the age of 14, for which I am grateful now, but absolutely hated at the time. So I have become a bit of a pro regarding what to expect in an internship. Prior to my first few experiences, I was so excited, beaming with enthusiasm, raring to go and get stuck in. Little did I know the generic fate of an innocent intern: the classic ‘bitch jobs’. Making teas and coffees, filing, giving foot massages and arse kissing everyone, because everyone is your superior. All this while living by the motto ‘service with a smile.’ That old chestnut. Exploitation, basically. That is what you should expect from an internship; especially if it is a month or less.
I remember interning for a marketing company in London for a month, and in my first meeting they made the job sound so exciting. ‘We have designated you an amazing role, with lots of responsibilities. You are going to be the office Runner!’ With a capital ‘R’ to make it seem extra important! Completely oblivious to what that word actually meant, naïve 16-year-old me was thinking ‘Ooh, I must be so important to be the designated office Runner, I am so lucky!’. Little did I know, my job would consist of running out to Pret, Prezzo, Yo Sushi, Starbucks and anywhere and everywhere else anyone fancied a bite from, fetching my seniors, clients and colleagues food and drinks from around London. To be honest, everyone was really nice at the company, but does that give me marketing experience? No. Was I being paid more than minimum wage? No. Were my expenses covered? Ha! Don’t make me laugh. I didn’t actually have a desk; my office was the kitchen and my job was to wait for someone to call and give me their lunch order… thrilling. Although I have never sighed with boredom so much than I did in the month during this internship, something I did learn is that you have to start at the bottom of the food chain and stick it out, because experience is experience, however useless.
My most recent internship before the one I am currently completing was a position based in the Middle East for Hilton. I had had several internships before that (all of which were pretty similar to the first one, I won’t bore you by describing them one by one) so I thought if I can survive those, why not try it abroad! Before I knew it, I was on a plane to Dubai and had arrived in the desert. And then it was my first day. I felt the excitement oozing out of me again, I was ready to dive in, head first. I remember asking to be taken to my workspace for the next 12 months, and being shown to an empty desk. No laptop, no stationary, nothing. I politely enquired, ‘Sorry, (typical English, apologising despite having done nothing wrong) could you possibly tell me where my laptop is please?’. The reply? ‘Oh, you have to go to HR for that.’
Okay, great, so after working out where the bloody hell HR was – across the hall, into the lift, down the back alley, past the cafeteria and through the last door on the right – I finally got my hands on the laptop and brought it back to my desk. EUREKAAA, I could finally get to work. But no, that would have been too easy. I opened the laptop and, naturally, had no login. ‘Sorry to bother you again,’ I said to my colleague, ‘but do you by any chance have my login?’ ‘Oh you have to go to L&D’.
Firstly, what the hell was ‘L&D’?; secondly, how was I, an English intern on her first day in a foreign country, supposed to know what it meant? Living and Dead? Lollipops and Dumplings?; and thirdly, was anything actually prepared? Seeing as I had just flown 7 hours to the middle of the desert to work here, it would have been nice. So after finding out that L&D meant ‘Learning and Development, I went there and was given my god forsaken login. Finally, after getting all the admin bits and bobs sorted, I started working. The first phone call I received was a sneak preview into what my time working there would entail. The majority of clients spoke Arabic and, for most of them, English was their third language. Being quite well-spoken and eloquent (if I do say so myself) is something of a privilege in Britain, but where I was, it wouldn’t have made a difference if I’d been speaking Cockney Rhyming Slang. ‘Yes my name is Montana’, I’d say, rolling my eyes. ‘Bontana? Mojito? Mandela?’ Were the type of replies I’d have to sit and listen to. Oh, and there were more. This language barrier was by far the hardest challenge for me, as I was, for once, the odd one out speaking English, surrounded by colleagues and clients who spoke a variety of languages. And for most, as I have mentioned, English was their weakest. On top of this, my internship was disorganised, lacked guidance and was stressful to say the least.
Believe it or not, there is light at the end of the tunnel. Best ‘til last and all that. So, most recently, I applied for an internship at Cirkle, on a whim, as they didn’t have any internships posted. I just thought, I want to work for this company, they look bloody good. And, to my surprise, I managed to get myself an interview! Miracles do happen.
So when I returned from Dubai in February, I was interviewed by Rikki Weir, who I assumed was male from the name (never assume. Ever.), so I was embarrassed to discover that ‘he’ was actually a ‘she’ after sending an email to ‘Mr Weir’ (I still don’t know how I got that interview). I arrived, and this long legged fashionista with pristine makeup and not a hair out of place came to greet me and introduced herself as Rikki. I immediately thought ‘I want to work here, she looks like she’s stepped straight out of Sex and the City’. Long story short, I got the job! I was overwhelmed, and to be honest, really chuffed. I received my contract in the post the following week (stunned at the efficiency!), signed it and sent it off. It was official: I was going to complete Cirkle’s first internship scheme, starting on June 1st. The title is ‘Experience in the Round’, which means I get to explore the different parts of PR within the company, covering Consumer, Digital and Trade.
June 1st came all too quickly and soon enough it was my first day. Walking into the office, I was greeted with smiles all round, including one from the Office Personnel Director, Jo. She walked us (myself and the other interns) into a modern, chic meeting room and handed us a box of stationery, laptops, a book about Cirkle, passwords, logins, post-it notes, everything you could possibly need. Well organised and efficient, oh, the joy! From then on, in my mind, Jo has been a real life Mary Poppins: she clicks her heels and finds a solution for everything.
I couldn’t believe it; I thought I was dreaming because it was too good to be true! Still is, actually. Organisation (very important to me, don’t you know) is to a tee, everyone is friendly and I’m getting paid to be ‘just an intern’. What’s the catch? There isn’t one. I’ve just managed to find one of those one in a million companies that has been my light at the end of the tunnel.
Since I’ve been working for Cirkle, I have had so many amazing experiences working with some top consumer brands such as Ferrero, Glen Livet, Paul Hollywood and Pernot Ricard. I have had so many opportunities: meeting with Rhodri Phillips, business editor of The Sun; attending media briefing events in London; and supporting my colleagues in their campaigns.
Overall, this has been my favourite internship by far. I feel like a part of the team and, for once, not a disposable intern. I already feel like an employee, and I haven’t even been here two months! A company I am genuinely proud to work for and hope to work for in the future, if you ever get offered a chance to join the Cirkle team, do it!