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A Stain on the Internship Experience

by Tamara Keith, Public Affairs
posted October 14, 1998

During the past nine months, I have heard the word "intern" more times than in the previous nine years. My parents, professors and co-workers say becoming an intern is the best way to get your foot in the door professionally. However, with all the attention given to one particular White House intern, I can understand why my grandparents didn't rush out and tell all their friends that I had just landed an internship.

As far as I can tell, Monica Lewinsky's internship consisted of seducing her boss, providing sexual favors in private hallways and working hard to compose trite love letters. Based on my experience, this is not a typical internship.

I'm an intern at a local TV station and my job doesn't remotely resemble Lewinsky's. I arrive at work at 5 a.m. and barely have time to set down my backpack before I start running...literally.

As the primary "gofer" for the morning news show, it's my responsibility to run scripts. When the printer starts to buzz I snap into action. I run across the newsroom to the printer, tear off the scripts, run back across the newsroom to the counter where I separate, collate and then rapidly deliver the stacks of colorful paper to people at far ends of the studio. By the time I finish running around, the printer has usually spit out a few more scripts.

Where did Lewinsky find all that time to be bad? At my job no one has even three minutes to slip away and "get it on." I've been moving so fast that I still haven't even met my real boss yet. However, I'm pretty sure that she would fire me if I ever stopped running scripts to offer Lewinsky-style services.

I wonder if Monica had blue jogging shoes to match her infamous dress? I bet all the other interns did.

My very first day as an intern was V-day...Sept. 21. The day Congress released President Clinton's video taped grand jury testimony. When I reported to the newsroom two hours before sunrise, I was given a quick tour and then told to take some scripts to the program's director. When I looked down at the scripts in my left hand, Lewinsky's name was the first thing I saw. She was there on my first day and she's been haunting me ever since.

Her face is on the monitors, her name is on the scripts and her actions have changed the way I am perceived as an intern. Lewinsky may have intended to use her internship to get a job, but the way she went about catching her boss' attention has changed the intern experience for young hopefuls like me.

It used to be that an internship meant working hard for little or no pay. Now it also includes politely enduring vulgar intern sex jokes and compensating for the bad reputation that an unrepresentative intern has brought to the whole institution. I wear my intern identification badge with a lot less pride than I would have last year.


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