You think that you’ll never end up in the pit but you do; that’s where you begin. It’s called the pit because that’s where all the interns sit; they never want you to forget what you must dig yourself out of.
There are six other girls in the room. They do not want to be your friend. In fact, you all want the same job: Assistant Account Executive. There aren’t enough spots for everyone, so happy hours aren’t exactly happy.
However, some girls do manage to become friends. It’s like they have this chip implanted in them where like recognizes like, and it’s clear they don’t like you. Maybe it’s because on your first day of being a professional you wear an outfit that causes your boyfriend to say, “so you decided to wear what all the other guys are wearing,” meaning you look like a male waiter.
“But it was 80 degrees,” you protest, “I had to put my hair in a French braid,” and you thought you couldn’t go wrong with a white, three quartered length sleeve button down tucked into your newly bought black dress pants; of course the ensemble was finished off with a belt.
Somehow it is all wrong. You spend most of your time being bored, trolling the internet and listening to music. You’re not sure if this is what adulthood is supposed to be but it feels miserable.
Each morning you wake up at 6:00 a.m. and are hit with the realization that you are living in your parent’s house. You take the same train that your Father took to work; you never knew his commute was so long. All of your other friends convince their parents to put them up in downtown apartments, but yours want you to learn, “how to stand on your own two feet.”
You always get lost on your way to work. It’s supposed to be a 20 minute walk from the station to the AON building, which sits magnificently on Wacker drive. Somehow you always take the wrong way on the right street, and you wonder why you were gifted with such a terrible sense of direction. This causes you to be late most days and you stand there praying for the elevator to descend faster so you can make your way to the 62nd floor; the view is beautiful.
You’re given a list that’s 10 pages long with people that you’re supposed to call: editors of magazines like Vogue, Family Circle and Redbook. You’ve spent your life reading many of these magazines and you can’t imagine actually convincing any of these people on this list to do anything for you.
For days you avoid this task and instead try to figure out how to email. Yes, you know how to use email, but it seems that everyone knows this “professional speak” that is the opposite of anything you’ve learned as an English major. It doesn’t take long to realize that:
Dear Ms. Burger,
How are you? There were many interesting headlines today in the news that I feel would be relevant for our clients, and would connect to our products to the people who would want to buy them, if they so choose. What I found most compelling was how prices are rising, and I know a concern of many people is the fact that disposal diapers do add to our general waste as a society. To be frank, they are bad for our environment. If we could find a way to convince the public that, in fact, the new Kimberly-Clark brand is biodegradable I think it would help increase sales. I don’t have a clear vision yet of how we might do this, as it’s just an initial thought that is percolating in my mind. What are your thoughts on this matter?
Your boss stops by to suggest you copy your colleagues’ email style; those that sit above you, which is basically everyone. You start to have email anxiety, stressing out if “hi” or “hello” is the better beginning.
To avoid writing emails you decide to take on the task of pitching. You pick up your ten page packet of people (who are both older and more established than you) and you proceed to call them one by one to try and convince them to write about Butterball Turkey.
Soon your new prayer is that no one picks up the phone when you call, but some people do, and you launch into the script you’re given:
“Hi, my name is Samantha with Edelman Public Relations, and I was wondering if now is a good time? Oh, great it is.. well I’m so happy to hear that because I’d like to share some information about Butterball Turkey? You know, Thanksgiving is approaching and many people are not sure how to cook a good a turkey. I know I am one of those people (hahaha). We have these Turkey Talkline ladies who I’m sure your readers can benefit from. They can call them with their Turkey emergencies; do you want information about them?”
This is a torturous task and it makes you feel like you don’t know how to speak the English language, mumbled words fall out of your mouth at a ridiculous rate, yet you do get some smalls bites (bites is interest for those who don’t work in PR).
In time things slowly start to get better, you begin to flow; to build confidence that you could actually be good at talking on the phone, a skill that most people once thought you were an expert at.
One day you make a call and encounter a haughty voice on the other line. The type of voice that F. Scott Fitzgerald would say, “sounds of money.”
Your master media list has her marked as a freelancer. This is where you always start because these people are often nicer than those who work for established publications; often they need you as much as you need them.
“Whooo are you?” the voice sneers
“ I’m Samantha with Edelman Public Relations. Like I said, I’m calling about Butterball Turkey.”
“Hoow old are you?
“Umm, old enough.”
“Where are you cooming from?”
“Obviously from under a rock.”
“Well, I have to tell you that I hate Butterball Turkey. I am not a fan, and I do not write about this stuff.”
“Well I don’t like Butterball either, so we’re agreed.”
“Normally I would never pick up the phone, but this has been a very booring day for me and you’ve amused me.”
“Well you’ve also amused me too so thanks,” and the other six interns who are eavesdropping laugh in the background, shocked that you went off script.
After you hang up you immediately Google this woman. You learn that you called Gael Greene, an iconic New York food critic who coined the term ‘foodie’; her new book Insatiable just hit the stores, chronicling her appetite for food and sex.
You learn that she’s slept with Clint Eastwood and Elvis. You pitched this woman Butterball Turkey; the humiliation is complete.
A few days later you get in trouble because the intern gossip was overheard, and those from above learned about your script deviation. However, once you turn around and say, “Gael Green was on my Butterball Turkey list labeled as a freelancer. What else was I supposed to do?”
Yea, that shouldn’t have happened and you know it. You give yourself a point for making your boss blush and you decide to leave on time that day.