[Originally published June 22, 2010.]
I am Eloise. I am twenty-three.
I am an intern. I work at a magazine.
Now, twenty-three may sound old to be working as an intern, but actually this is how lots of people break into journalism. Some people are even still interns when they are thirty. So really it’s not too strange.
The magazine building has lots of floors and two sets of elevators and the prettier people ride on the second set of elevators to the lower floors, but I don’t know why. In the lobby there is a marble floor and two sets of entrances and a desk with very strict doormen who get angry when you try to go in without your ID.
Sometimes I do it anyway.
Each floor has elevators and a hallway in the middle and lots of offices all around it in a circle. It is very good for getting lost.
Even though I am not getting paid I still work lots of hours a day and am always very BUSY. Interns have lots of tasks. Every day I must go through all the mail and then bring it to each of the editors because they are just SO busy they can’t get up from their desks to go to the mail room.
After that I must absolutely eat breakfast because the day will absolutely get so busy that I will have dangerously low blood sugar if I don’t. So after that I go down to the cafeteria and get a cappuccino but I have to put it in one of the regular coffee cups so that they will charge me only $1.61 for it and not $3.62 which is the price of a cappuccino. They aren’t even paying me and expect me to pay for a cappuccino! So I really don’t mind cheating.
Then I pay and say “thank you” to Rosie, the cashier who likes me and doesn’t charge me for rolls, I circle around the salad bar and see what everyone is wearing. This is a very posh building and people are always wearing very fashionable clothing, like leopard-print shooties and fedoras.
Once I saw a girl wearing riding stirrups.
After that things start to get very busy. I go back upstairs to my cubicle on the 9th floor only to find that three editors need transcriptions and the web editor wants me to write a blog post on gold sneakers. Also the editor in chief needs me to build a mobile for him made entirely out of paper and Elmer’s glue and while it’s drying I have to run down advertising on the 7th floor to give something to the publisher but then I have to messenger out three copies of the May issue to a publicist so I quickly rush down to the Mail Center in the sub-basement which can only be accessed through a backdoor on the ground floor and by taking several flights of steep stairs—and of course I am wearing high heels, because that’s what everybody wears. And then I run back upstairs to the 9th floor but quickly hop into the ladies’ room on the opposite side of the floor to reapply lip gloss and make sure my hair is not askew, because Lord knows there is NOTHING more unacceptable than having bad hair in this place.
And then I must race across to the mail room to see if any good magazines have come in before the other intern delivers them so I can steal one from someone who has recently been laid off. And then I race back down to find an obscure Japanese men’s design magazine for the deputy editor and it’s very important because he needs to have it IMMEDIATELY. And then I must run back upstairs to the 18th Floor to get the cash advance for the editor in chief, and I must check very carefully that there are fifteen hundred-dollar bills even, because he cannot accept any money that is not in hundreds. But first I look through all the bills and think for a minute about whether I should escape with all of them and then I would have exactly 1,500 dollars more than I started with, because right now I don’t have anything, but then I decide against it even though I wonder just how much trouble I would get into.
But then I go back upstairs and give him the envelope only to find that I have to open two hundred packages for the Books editor while he’s away covering Sundance.
THINGS I AM AFRAID OF: Girls who don’t wear pants, Graydon Carter, the eight-feet tall models who moonlight at Vogue, the cafeteria, everyone in gladiator heels, my boss, the guys in the mail room who don’t respond to my flirting, the bipolar blog editor, everything.
And then by the end of the day I am just SO exhausted from running around doing all these errands so I must come home to the apartment, which I still share with my parents because I am absolutely SO broke from not making any money interning for the past two years, and I have to complain about the current state of journalism and how there are no jobs and the Internet is killing everything and blogs are taking over the world such that there is no editorial discretion and everyone can be a writer but no one’s really that good and by then I am in SUCH a state of panic that my mummy (I don’t know why I call her that, I’m not British) must rub my feet and simultaneously pet my hair and bring me orange juice and crackers so that I will not have a dizzy spell from so much emotion and low blood sugar because the cafeteria closes at 4 so I have not had a proper late afternoon snack, and then I need her to tell me that everything will be fine in the magazine world and I will soon get a job and even though I am pretty sure I don’t believe her I do start to feel calmer and then I tell her about the cute boy who works in the art department who I have a crush on and how I saw him outside by the elevators today and I looked at him and said ‘hi’ and he looked at me and said back ‘hi’ and ooooo there’s a rerun of 30 Rock on! I really must get some sleep because tomorrow I have to cover a red carpet event and write six blog posts and track down another Japanese magazine, plus my boss needs to know Lindsey Vonn’s favorite shade of lipstick for a podcast and I need to fact check everyone John Mayer has ever had sex with, plus transcribe a six-hour interview for a story that needs to be shipped tomorrow night and really, I just don’t know how I’ll get it all done.