Intern-finity

Last week, I accepted a four-month internship position at a PR firm in Toronto. My new internship begins immediately after my current one ends.

I imagine all the nay-sayers out there are mumbling to themselves and shaking their heads. “Another internship?” they might ask. “Yes,” I would respond, “and here are the reasons why.”

workforfree

1| Internships are a privilege, not a setback.

While in university, I couldn’t wrap my head around the purpose of an internship. I was certain that if I worked hard enough, I would land a job right out of university. Here’s what I realize now: interns are not unemployed stragglers. Interns know what they want and how to achieve it. In other words, an internship is a strategic kickstart in the right direction. Boo-yah.

2| Some people suck at internships.

Perhaps I’m being overly harsh, but when I say that some interns “suck,” I mean most of them just do their jobs, exactly as they’re told. Being an intern certainly has its perks, but unless you get off on filing and taking notes, your day-to-day life will not be glamorous.  Make your internship worth it by pitching in wherever possible! Creating stellar spreadsheets doesn’t make you memorable; taking initiative, though, sets you apart from the pack.

3| Free training is indispensable.

If you can afford to do an internship in your field (and that’s a whole other topic of conversation…), I think you’d be silly not to. Interning offers a taste of the working world and enables you to try your hand at a number of different tasks in a relatively risk-free way. In all likelihood, you won’t have so much responsibility as to feel overwhelmed, but you’ll be able to give writing/presenting/public speaking/shmoozing a shot without risking embarassment. If anything goes wrong, you can always play the intern card: “Whoops! I’m new.”

4| Life is a popularity contest.

I’m sorry, but the old adage is true: “It’s not what you know. It’s who you know.” Fortunately for those among us not born into wealth and opportunity, it is entirely possible to make – and privilege from – your own connections. If you’re trying to make e-friends on LinkedIn or Twitter, your title as an intern at “x” respectable company will do you wonders. At the end of the day, the real perks of interning are the ones you create yourself: meeting people in your industry, forging bonds with mentors and building a positive reputation around your name.

So, yep, another internship – and I kinda sorta can’t wait.

Twenty-Two

I celebrated my twenty-second birthday this weekend with the most wonderful friends & family a girl could ask for. After spending Saturday night dancing, Ben woke me up bright and early Sunday morning and treated us to a day of wine tasting and good eats in Niagara-on-the-Lake.

If you’ve never been to Niagara-on-the-Lake, I suggest you get going. It’s unbelievably picturesque and a perfect place to make memories.

Ravine Vineyard

 

Niagara GRAPES1

Niagara PIZZA

Niagara PICK UP TRUCK

Niagara BEN AND SARAH

-♥-

Thank you for yet another year of readership, love and support. Que Sarah Sarah simply wouldn’t be the same without you – and so far, twenty-two is rounding up to be the best year yet.

What’s your favourite birthday memory?

Bookmarked: The Interestings

The Interestings

What I’m reading:  The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer

Why it’s on my kindle:  This read is the premiere pick of my newly constituted book club – a composite of recent McGill English grads who clearly have nothing better to do. We’re putting our degrees to werk!

Any standout themes?  Yup, I’m taking a bite out of Grade 12 English for this question. Although it’s difficult to boil a 500-page novel down to keywords and barebones, this novel seems less complicated – and more collapsable – than most. A clique of self-professed teenage geniuses proclaim themselves “The Interestings” at summer camp in 1974, and for the next few decades, each member of the group tries to live up to the moniker. Some find success easier than others, while the book’s protagonist – a mousy ginger named Jules (née Julie) Jacobson – subsists in a state of debilitating envy which threatens her marriage, stability and happiness in New York City. Time passes and travels ensue – but The Interestings, at 200 pages in, has some legwork ahead to justify its title.

Why it’s relevant:  Character development is the crux of this novel, and doesn’t that ring perfectly true for our lives, as well? In twenty-some-odd years, we’ll be hardly recognizable from the people we are today. Different faces will stare back at us when we look in the mirror. I think that’s exciting! If The Interestings has taught me anything, it’s that life need not be dull and dreary… You hear that, Jules Jacobson? You have 300 pages. Get it together.

What are you reading? Let me know on Facebook or Twitter!

Fact, Not Fiction

Fact: I’m two months into my internship.

Fact: I love working 9-5 because I can drink 3 coffees a day without feeling guilty or evoking strange looks.

Fact: The job search has officially begun. Toronto PR firms, watch out.

Fact: I can now add “turkey & hand model” to my resume thanks to a recent Canadian Living shoot (though I probably won’t).

Fact: Although I may have to go back to school, I’m hustling to land as many freelance gigs and networking opportunities as possible.

Fact: I’m now on LinkedIn. <– Click dat.

Fact: Oh yeah, and Twitter and Instagram.

Fact: If my hair will take it, I’m going blonde on Friday. Wish me and my processed locks good luck!

Fact: This photo of my dog is the best. picture. of. all. time. I’m sure you all agree.

Trippy Dogs are Trippy.

Trippy Dogs are Trippy.

 

 

 

Tips from a Fresh-Faced Intern

My life now.

This is my life now.

Today marked the end of my third week as a style & beauty intern for Canadian Living. Yes. There. I said it. I was lucky enough to write my first blog for them this week, and you can check it out here. Let me know what you think! I had a great time writing the piece – though, I have to say, taking a picture of two hands without a tripod or self-time camera is no easy feat.

In my first three weeks, I’ve learned a lot about interning and the adult, working world. If, like me, you’re starting off at an internship this month, tell me how it’s going in the comments! I’d love to hear about your experiences, and see how they match up with mine.

This is what I’ve learned thus far:

  1. Smile and know your place in the pecking order. As an editor informed me the other day, an intern has to “be friendly and meet as many people in the office as possible without being annoying.” There exists a fine line between extroverted and obnoxious. Learn the line, love the line, be the line.
  2. Pack non-offensive lunches. This may be obvious, but as an intern, you will likely eat at your desk numerous times throughout the week. I don’t care how much you like fish – it smells rank. So be kind, and pack veggies and a turkey sandwich.
  3. Do it now, not later. In college, it was Kool-with-a-capital-K to procrastinate. I mean, who wants to read 184 pages about the production of jute sacks in rural India (real story)? No one. Maintaining your position as an intern – whether paid or not – is a totally different story. There are literally thousands of people who want to see you stumble, just so they can stand in your place. Don’t give them the satisfaction. Complete given tasks quickly and effectively, and hunt constantly for tasks to fill your time.
  4. Get in on the action. Go to meetings, take notes, and make suggestions (when appropriate). If you feel uncomfortable expressing an opinion, preface your sentence with “I think” or “It could be cool if” or “what do you think of.” Again, make it your goal to speak up without being offensive or intrusive.
  5. Mistakes happen. Don’t beat yourself up if you make an error. You’re new! I garble my words about 267 times a day, but c’est la vie, bab-bay. As each day becomes more routinized, your tasks will become second nature.

Hope all is well with you guys! If you’re having half as much fun as I am, you’re in a pretty darling place.

Side note: I am happy to report that interning at a magazine is nothing at all like The Devil Wears Prada. Meryl must be watching over me.

May Updates

See you in a week, Vegas. You better be as fabulous as your sign lets on.

See you in a week, Vegas. You better be as fabulous as your sign lets on.

Yes, I know it’s been a while. But I’ve been busy. K? Real busy.

Let’s skip right to the chase. Here are my life updates:

  1. I’m a Style & Beauty intern at a major Canadian magazine this summer. I can’t yet say which one, but if you follow my Twitter, you’re bound to figure it out at some point: @sarahjfeldman
  2. Although I have not officially graduated (convocation takes place at the end of the month), I have received all of my grades and I’m gooood to goooo. Peace out, B.A. See you on the flip.
  3. I’m flying to Vegas on Wednesday! Any ideas of what to do and where to go? Items already on the list: gambling, drinking, eating, tanning (hah.), shmoozing with celebs (hah. x2), long walks in the desert.
  4. I’m craving movie popcorn so hard right now. I’m nearly at the point of just licking some salt to replicate the taste. Maybe salt + butter. Don’t judge me – I work hard and deserve it.
  5. I’ve moved back to Toronto and I’m living in my parent’s house once more. My walls are turquoise from that time I went a little colour cray-cray in grade 9, but soon they’ll be a greyish-cream. You know you’re an adult when you paint your walls taupe, grey, or cream. I’m cool with that.

Get stoked for this summer! I’m getting back on board the blogging train. Chooo chooooo!

P.S. I still have no direction in life. Wuh-woah.

And how is your summer shaping up?

Guest Blog: An Intern’s Tale

Stuart Brown

Guest blogger Stuart Brown learned the hard way that the successful completion of an internship does not always lead to full-time employment. In his piece, Stuart celebrates his victories, reflects on his losses, and offers would-be interns a dose of fresh advice.

So you’re thinking of doing an internship? Let me give you some advice…

These days, they say that “life is what happens when you’re looking at your smartphone.” In this “Face-twitt,” “Insta-Tube” world we live in, communications skills have never been more important or more difficult to master. After spending five years working in sales and as a corporate trainer, I decided to take my penchant for communicating ideas to the next level by signing up for Seneca College’s Corporate Communications and Public Relations program.

The year-long course offered me the chance to learn, with other prospective PR pros, the ins and outs of the communications field: media relations, investor relations, crisis communications, and the list goes on. You’d be amazed how complicated something as simple as writing a well-crafted email can be. By enrolling in the optional co-op program, I was also promised the opportunity to work in the industry as an intern for four months before graduating.

We’ve all heard about the dangers of working as an intern in this economy. While unpaid internships are riskier, even placements that offer a fair salary make no promise of lasting employment.

By all accounts, I was one of the lucky ones. I finished my program with a perfect GPA, and received not one – but three – internship offers. Most of my classmates were lucky to receive a single offer. Some didn’t get any.

I chose a smaller PR agency for my placement in the hopes that it would afford me the greatest breadth of experience. Team members in a smaller office must take on a variety of roles in order to execute a complete campaign.

The experience was everything I could have asked for and more. I worked with some incredible clients, experienced the thrill of procuring mainstream media exposure, and banished my misconceptions about just what PR work consists of.

I had arrived on my first day expecting to attend galas and openings, hobnob with reporters, and write stirring prose for mass distribution. Instead, I found myself starring at a computer screen for hours on end, compiling media lists, smiling and dialing my way through pitches and follow-ups, and running the occasional errand.

Not exactly glamorous work, but my employer didn’t abuse my time. These tasks are the kinds of things that everyone in the agency world has to do at first. And, to be honest, there were a couple of parties, and a pitch or two I wrote, and even a TV interview I coordinated from start to finish. I’m particularly proud of that one.

The hours quickly add up. Most PR agencies work on billable time, and when you’ve got to account for every 15 minute block of your day, it’s easy to forget to take a break every now and then. Fifty-plus hour weeks are commonplace in this business, and while I had the benefit of superiors who would occasionally remind me to “go home,” there’s no getting around the reality of how much dedication it takes to succeed.

Four months passed by in what seemed like an instant. Unfortunately, when I arrived on the first day of my last scheduled week and had yet not received an offer of employment, I knew that my time at the company would indeed be coming to an end. I’ve been unemployed in the past, and I was not looking forward to the prospect of job hunting again.

Like many before me, my internship did not wind up leading to a job. Do I regret doing it? No. I acquired on-the-job training and learned valuable lessons. If I could boil the entire experience down into three convenient bullet points, they would be…

  1. There is such a thing as being too friendly.
  2. It really, really, REALLY is who you know. Be a relentless networker.
  3. There will always be someone else willing to do the work if you aren’t interested.

These may not sound like the most encouraging pieces of advice, but the reality is that we have to adjust our mindsets to the job market in which we find ourselves. The rewards of work are still available, but only to those with the drive and dedication to seize them.

Monday Affirmations {10/02/2013}

Monday Affirmations

So, what’s this whole “Monday Affirmations” thing about, anyway?

I think we can all agree that Monday is the dreariest day of the week. Back to school, back to work. The weekly routine begins again. Ugh. Monday is the pits, and everybody knows it. The thing is, though, I’d love to become a Monday person. You know, like a morning person, but… a Monday person. In the next five years, I want to reach a stage in my life where I feel excited to jump out of bed on Monday mornings. Until then, though, I plan to affirm five elements of my life each week. Life is short, so I figure it’s best to keep it sweet!

This Monday, I affirm:

  • Baked goods: In case you didn’t know, I’m the least domestic person in the world. Cooking, cleaning, and baking? Yeah. Not for me. But this week, I decided to take my spatula for a spin. I baked these “compost cookies,” from Table for Two. And let me tell you, they were naaaasty. Do not fret, though, because my lovely roommate made scrumptious brownies the next day to cleanse our palettes. Two of my roommates have a food blog, actually, called Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner at Tiffany‘s. Check it out!
  • Afternoon naps: I’m not sure what it is (The weather, maybe? Let’s just blame the weather for everything), but lately, I am tiiiiiredddd. At around 4:30 p.m. every day, my eyes get droopy, and my limbs get heavy, and I manage to convince myself on the daily that, ‘I should just study in bed!’ Study? Let’s not joke. Within minutes of crawling into my duvet, I’m out – and, aside from resultant bouts of insomnia (NBD), napping is the bomb-dot-com.
Sleeeeppyyy...

ZZZzzz…. ZZZzzz….

  • Awards show season: There is nothing better than watching your doppelgänger - in my case, Tina Fey – host a major awards show. Don’t get me wrong, Amy Poehler was wonderful, as well, but she’s got nothing on my Tina. (P.S. Looking for a blond, Poehler-like sidekick. Applications can be sent to quesarahsarahblog@gmail.com). Awards show season, which is now unfortunately coming to an end, represents the best of the best in terms of superficial guilty pleasures: slinky dresses, gorgeous tresses, and, uh, velour tuxes? Yes, please.
  • Old episodes of The Office: I don’t understand why NBC continues to write The Office. The show should have ended gracefully with the exit of Steve Carrell; instead, audiences are forced to watch the sitcom flail, suffocate, and die – slowly and unfunnily. I don’t think I’ve laughed once this season! And the writers’ attempts to break the fourth wall by involving the camera crew in the plot is uncomfortable and out of place. Onto the next show!
  • My brown hair: In case you didn’t know this about me already, I prefer stability over change. For the past 21 years, I’ve been a brunette (well, except for that time I put pink streaks in my bangs and they turned orange within a week… whoops). This Wednesday, I am handing over my locks to a professional stylist, who has free rein to do whatever they want to my hair colour. I could be blonde! Eek. Or green (please not green). Only time will tell, folks, and you best believe I’ll post pictures as soon as I can.

Back to work. How’s your Monday hanging?