Since the day I graduated college I don’t think I have had one conversation that didn’t involve someone asking me about my job. There are a handful of questions that I get a lot: Where do you work? What do you do? Is it full time? Do you get paid? The questions come from my family, friends, and even the random guy at the bar. This wouldn’t be a huge problem if I had a good answer for them.
Yes, I work. Yes, it is full time. No, I don’t get paid, I’m an intern. Cue the shocked faces!
No one wants to hear that I am a college graduate who moved to LA to work for free as an intern. Why would I move across the country to work unpaid? Why would I be willing to be struggling week to week to make ends meet? Well, there is an answer for that:
For one, I think that LA is very different from the rest of the world. It definitely dances to the beat of its own drum. Nothing here makes sense. It truly is about who you know in this town and once you know someone it’s about how good you are. I am a big advocate of having to pay your dues. I want to work in a cutthroat business and I will do anything to achieve my dreams, even if that means being an intern again.
In college I was the queen of internships. I was an intern for more than five companies and each taught me valuable lessons that made me who I am today. This may sound cliché but it’s true.
Interns get treated like crap in a lot of places but they are also trusted with a lot of information. People don’t pay much attention to the intern and therefore the intern will learn a lot. You are also not on the payroll as intern and therefore people feel as though they can vent to you. This can be both insightful and annoying. Interns get to see the nitty gritty aspect of the places they work.
I loved being an intern. I didn’t want to see the glamorous side of a job I wanted to see the part of the job that no one talks about. Being a news anchor looks real great on the outside until you find out that they wake up at 2:00AM for work. Not so glamorous anymore. The aspects of a job that really suck are the things that will make or break you.
When I graduated college I thought my intern days were behind me. I was wrong. My parents were not happy and my friends were shocked. I had been an intern so long, wasn’t it time for me to get a paid gig? Don’t get me wrong; I applied to a lot of jobs, but I did not get many interviews. While I had proven myself back in Boston I had not proven myself in LA.
LA is the land of dreams… It is also the land of broken dreams. If you aren’t willing to work for it, I mean really work for it, then you wont achieve your dreams in La La Land. I didn’t care that I was an intern or that I was working for free, I cared that I was making a name for myself. I want people to know that Paige is a hard worker. Paige will get the job done. Paige will work for free if it means she will be one step closer to her dreams.
Lucky for me the hard work has finally paid off. I have earned the trust of some influential people and even landed a full time job. I may have been an intern for six months here in LA struggling to get by but today I am one step closer. One step closer to who I want to be and now I have people on my side.
I know graduation is right around the corner for my friends still in college and if they can learn anything from me I would want it to be that you don’t have to be defined by your job. Don’t let your income or where you work define you. You define you. Work hard and do whatever it takes to meet your end game. It is important to remember that it isn’t about where you are but where you are going.
By Paige Sullivan