May 18, 2010

The Point of an Internship. ~ Matas Vilgalys

Prelude: After throwing together these thoughts, I discovered that Waylon blogged about the video gem below last year. Great minds do think alike—still, CP+B’s video is worth another watch. ~ Matas

World of an Intern.

Why did they make this video?  Didn’t they have work to do?

My internship with elephant is not my first experience in such a deservingly unpaid position.

I say deservingly, because although interns work hard and put in plenty of hours, we are anything but professional (though professionalism does not always equal a paycheck, especially here in Boulder, where anyone downtown wearing a business suit sticks out like a nudist on Wall Street).

I’ve been fortunate enough to work with some awesome non-profits—shout out to New Era Colorado, the University of Colorado (CU) and a certain video producer. These experiences have trained me to (among other things) take enthusiastic advantage of any and all free beverages, meals or trips placed before me. This bottom-feeder way of life is certainly part of being a college student, but is extended even further to the life of an intern. In classes, busy work, thoughtless assignments and arbitrary word counts are expected—they help provide structure for the system.

In the intern’s world, they are still expected, but with even less of an explanation.

Advertising is an industry where this way of life seems to be a founding principle. It also happens to be my area of study at CU.  Nevertheless, advertising isn’t irrationally arbitrary. When done well, it is anything but. Every decision, in advertising and any collaborative industry, must be efficiently examined, explained and made essential in context. As an intern, I don’t understand a lot of the decisions that go into running a business, and being somewhat removed, a second-tier employee, I can easily point out these hiccups in disorganization and time management before being able to look at the reasoning behind them.

Crispin, Porter + Bogusky is one of the dream ad agencies. It does good work, both creatively and ecologically.  To best sum up its illustriousness, I divulge that my classes not only discuss the agency’s work and workers, but most admirably discuss its offices. An internship at CP+B is also discussed as an equally dreamy position, imbued with hard work and the opportunity for hire at the end of the term. Their interns understand that their work ethic needs to be paired with an unparalleled creative drive, which is why this specific group created World of an Intern:

The video is certainly jovially accurate, seen even through my less legendary internships, and was clearly the result of a challenging and enlightening experience.  However, since I am an intern, a minion with the wherewithal to notice the glaringly unexplained uses of time, I must ask:

Why did they make this video?  Didn’t they have work to do?

I’ll tell you: this video created some good old buzz (68,000 views and climbing) for both CP+B and the clients referenced, and definitely shows that the interns were working hard and learning, but more than that, it shows they were enjoying themselves. They are without the pressure of a paycheck, and with the disenchantments of a student yet to enter and be beaten down by the real world.

In summation: we interns, ideally, embody the devotion, earnestness and inventiveness that should be seen in all employees, regardless of their position.

Matas Vilgalys is a senior at CU Boulder pursuing double degrees in Art and Advertising.  He likes cheese, working on projects, loving the mountains, running, and talking about North Carolina, the greatest state in the union and coincidentally where he is from.

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