Thursday, July 2, 2009

Res ipsa loquitur

A friend posted this link on her Facebook page. As a person who operates on the periphery of the Phoenix ad world I thought it too interesting to not share. I guess it is catching fire 'round the blogosphere.

Open Letter From an Ad Agency Intern

I have some sympathy for the author, to the extent that she's expressing thoughts that have popped into every intern's head since it was called "apprenticeship" in the Goode Olde Days.


As I keep telling my kids, like it or not, companies and schools are going to search everything you say and do online for the rest of your lives. Not every thought in your head needs to be expressed online. Assume people have a camera phone aimed at you. It's a crappy deal in too many ways to count, but best get used to it.


  1. All I can say is, boo-freakin'-hoo (pardon my French).

    Interns (and coordinators) get the crap jobs. They do the photocopying. They get the muffins for the meeting. They stay late to make sure the project gets through the studio's second shift.

    I wonder if the author stopped to realize, even for a minute, that each and every person at that agency started out in pretty much the same place. You've got to pay your dues. You've got to watch and learn. You've got to get involved, be curious. If you wait for work to come to you, you'll be sorting pens for a long, long time.

    And an intern on a shoot? I was 8 years in advertising before I was ever called up on a shoot. Being part of that is a great privilege.

    Sorry, Jake--whiny interns get under my skin every time. There's no room for intern exploitation and agency-intern relationships are certainly about give and take, but look here, child--we ALL went through that crap. A little humility and a good attitude will open doors in the future.

    All that kid's proved is that he can't hack the small stuff. So who's going to trust him with the big work?

  2. I agree with your comment, so let me rephrase: My *only* sympathy is that she expressed something we all thought at some point. (Mine was when I had to forge my boss's signature on something like 1,500 letters on Internship Day 2, 1989.) Most of us had the sense to keep it to ourselves.

    But having taken a not-too-veiled and not-terribly-clever potshot at one of the city's Big Agencies, she's getting the comeuppance she royally deserved. There's an old Kipling tale about how it's better for a puppy to get sickened from eating some shoe polish when it's young than when it's full-grown and can consume a lethal amount. I suspect this is a girl (and I use the word advisedly, rather than "young lady" or "woman") who could do no wrong in the eyes of her parents or teachers.

    As a result, she's eaten a nearly fatal amount of shoe-black, advertising career-wise. On the other hand, there's a nationally famous PR sleaze in town who's probably already offered her a job.

    What it comes down to for me is "would I hire someone who acts like this?" The answer is NO.

  3. We definitely all had such thoughts run trough our heads at the beginning. My first-ever copywriting project was to proofread the instructions for a nasal humidifier. TONS of fun! Creatives didn't have to do the footwork that client service interns were relegated to, but we all had our share of crap, and it was far, far removed from the visions of TV shoots and grand concepts we'd been learning about.

    But it all adds up to baby steps that take you on to bigger and better things. Poor girl has shot herself right in the foot.

  4. Great comments from you both. I will show this to my intern, who pushed her way into my heart and office by being insistent and willing to do whatever. I'm ashamed to say while she was out gathering mail and running other errands, I also had her drop off my dry cleaning. But she has sat in on client meetings, been on a couple of shoots, tried her hand at a little copy writing and actually done some decent things. She will leave us with a better idea of what it's like in the real world but only because she was work and to LISTEN! I never ask anybody to anything I wouldn't do. Bring your work ethic, baby, cause if you don't, you'll be selling newspaper space.