It finally hit the other day – I’m living the intern life. I’m really living the post-graduate, entering the professional world as a lowly, very poor, bottom-of-the-totem-pole intern at an organization and for a profession that I absolutely am okay with living the poor, lowly, at the bottom-of-the-totem-pole life for! (I just ended that sentence in a preposition – as intern Noelle and I would say – copy edit that shit!). I am a fact-checker and a copy editor. I am one who does book write-ups and reads books and writes BookMarks. I am one who occasionally faxes permissions to college professors to reprint old articles for use in their classes. I am one who reads feminist news blogs and daily wires for Ms. worthy newswire updates. I am one who then writes newwires (much to my chagrin). (You can see these newswires here –> Ms. Magazine newswire). I am not just an unpaid intern – I’m doing the grunt work necessary to build a career in an insanely competitive field. That’s pretty cool.
It has taken me a while to get to this place where I finally get it. Throughout college I had internships, I had jobs, but I always tended to land things that were paid – maybe because it’s all I looked for and settled for; I didn’t have the luxury of choosing something else. For the past month I’ve been here, I’ve seen this internship more as an obstacle than a privilege and a right of passage – I’ve seen it as my demise, my financial ruin, my decidedly failed attempt at working my way into this business. And now I realize that I’ve had the wrong paradigm all along, so I’ve changed it. Now my perspective matches my reality – I am poor, I am putting myself into (more) financial ruin, but it’s not worthless, and it’s not (completely) irresponsible – it’s an investment in my future, one that I honestly believe and know will pay off in years to come.
I wanted to share this revelation and some of the cool stuff I’ve done so far – as in… cool people I’ve had the opportunity to meet.
First, we had a Washington, DC Senator come and do a speech, but I was out of the office that afternoon (very very unfortunately), so I can’t tell you much of anything about her. I heard the last bit of Q&A that they did, and I know she’s working on some very important women’s rights legislation and is backed by prominent women, but… that’s about it. Still very cool.
Then… I got to meet, on the same day no less – Amy Brenneman and Ellie Smeal!!!
Amy is an actress most known for her work on Judging Amy – she was Judge Amy. I know and love her from Private Practice -she plays Dr. Violet Turner. Her character is one of my favorites in all of tv (and as someone who has aspired to write for tv, I watch… way… too much of it…hahaha). She’s is a strong, independent, opinionated, powerful woman. That’s hard to find depicted on television. Apparently, in real life, she’s even more incredible. She does a lot of work with the Feminist Majority Foundation (who owns Ms. – incredible organization and astoundingly brilliant women I look up to in every way); she’s very involved in feminism and is just… wonderful. She spent an afternoon in our office one day this past week, and I was overwhelmed with excitement and awe at her talent and interest and action on issues that really matter.
And then… the great… the wonderful… the awe-inspiring, and respected Eleanor Smeal. She’s the one standing next to Hillary on the right – in the purplish/dark blue suit with white hair. Ellie Smeal is the current President of the Feminist Majority Foundation, the former President of the National Organization for Women (NOW), and all-around feminist rockstar. Intern Noelle, Intern Lindsey, and I were discussing her role in feminism compared to Gloria Steinem. Our best way to describe the difference in who they are now and their impacts in our individual lives is to say that Steinem is pure legend while Smeal is Queen (or King or Queing if we can find a non-gendered way to say “the one with the most power”). Ellie spent all this past week in our offices here in Beverly Hills, and it was unbelieavble to be near her, to see her work. For me, the only thing cooler would be meeting Gloria Steinem herself. I have daydreamed about such things happening…
Then, as if all this isn’t cool enough – Interns Noelle, Lindsey and I went to a Guerrilla Girls party! They won an award (Congrats!!) and had an after-party for it… to which they sent an invite to Ms. that ended up in our hands. The Guerrilla Girls have been around since 1985. They wear Guerrilla masks at everything they do – secrecy is a huge part of their work – nobody knows who the guerrilla girls actually are. They use the spelling “guerrilla” to imply a type of warfare – against gender stereotypes, gender norms, patriarchal agendas. They use artwork – mainly through like billboards, posters and a few books – to raise awareness of issues, ask important questions, etc. Meeting the Guerrilla Girls, for me, has been the pinnacle of living what I learned in college. In nearly any and every Women’s Studies course around this country – they talk about the Guerrilla Girls and their relative influence on feminism. Do they do good things for feminism? What do they do? Do the masks help or hurt their cause? There are discussions of identity, the narrative of artistic, if not audible, voice, etc. It was very, very, very cool. We do have pictures from it, but I haven’t gotten them on the computer yet.
That’s life so far here. I’m moving past being oh so depressed about being so poor and embracing it – this part of life only happens once, right? I hope so. I’m looking at applying for jobs – starting to ask those questions of what next, where next, when next. At first, I was overhwelmed and terrified, unsure of how people ever figure out their careers and get anywhere. Slowly (slowlyslowly) I’m understanding that it’s about baby steps. One step at a time. Eventually I’ll be where I want to be – wherever that is. For now, I’m enjoying the crazy intern life – livin’ la vida loca!