Thanks again for being a Margarettown enthusiast! Seriously… Do you recall when Margaret Towne says she is cursed? Well, the book that bears her name was a little bit cursed, too. At least the publication of it. So I appreciate my Margarettown readers very, very, very much. Have you read Nicole Kraus’s The History of Love? That novel came out the same month as Margarettown but this is not why I mention it. In The History of Love, there is a story of a book that no one (except for maybe two people in the entire world) remembers called The History of Love — Margarettown is a bit like that for me. (You might like The History of Loveif you haven’t yet read it, by the way.)
I had an internship at the New York City Department of Transportation (DOT) one summer, working in their media department. We made (or at least tried to make) a video that was to teach DOT workers how to repair potholes.
The internship was paid… It was very important to me to be paid. In retrospect, I think I was silly about that. It wasn’t like it was a ton of money anyway ($7/hour as I recall) — I might have taken a much better unpaid internship. I had turned down a perfectly good unpaid internship at the Food Network, which would have been a lot more interesting, relevant and probably fun.
I DID however learn a lot from that internship at the DOT. Mainly what I learned is that it is difficult to get anything done. Our little pothole repair video had to go through endless committees before it could be made. This process turns out to be remarkably similar to what working in film or publishing is actually like.
In terms of where to get internships? I would encourage you to ASK EVERYONE YOU KNOW. The internship at the DOT I got through a friend. The internship at the Food Network I found about through my college’s Office of Career Services.
My last word of advice. I know that internships are competitive. If you don’t end up getting one, a sneaky way to snag a backdoor internship is to take a job volunteering in a related field. I’m not sure what your field is, but if it were, say, writing or publishing, I might try offering up my services to Valencia 826 or Girls Write Now.
I was reading this over and I’m not sure I gave such a great answer. In the months since, I’ve read several articles talking about the way that unpaid internships (and particularly ones in the arts) amount to slave labor (and particularly for women). In any case, I think this question requires a more complex discussion than the answer I gave here.