Notes on an Internship

A digital nativist tweets from the morgue

Going into an internship, one has these ridiculous ideas of what to expect. Either you’ll be thrown into the depths of hell by Miranda Priestly herself, or you’ll be warmly embraced and pretty soon you’ll be assigned an intern of your own who will fetch your morning joe.

In reality, neither is the case. You get a first hand look at whatever industry or company you are interning for while also being assigned the peasant work that none of the real employees want to do. This was my experience at Prometheus Global Media where I found myself in a storage room (the grizzled editor who assigned me this column called it "the morgue") overflowing with boxes of musty magazines that were mine to lovingly organize.

While counting, collating and coughing in the dusty, airless room, I blasted my iPod and took microbreaks to go through all 341 of Kim Kardashian’s Instagram photos and tweet things like @God “please send me some sort of salvation #whydoyouhateme?” It took a few days for the irony of the situation to hit me—I am this industry. I both control and am controlled by digital media. I am the one whom they are bending over backwards to impress. Yet there I was, stacking ink and paper products way older than me.

Before starting at Prometheus, I had barely heard of its properties. Sure, I knew of Billboard and Adweek in passing as well as the Billboard Music Awards, but I never really stopped to think about them as brands and businesses. Actually, that goes for the media industry in general. 

After all, these are the people who are constantly trying to reach my generation because we're digital natives and aggressive consumers. They'll make gains in that effort by more fully understanding that social media is not my hobby, it's my lifestyle. I am not only Facebook friends with my personal friends, but also some of my favorite clothing stores. 

Who needs major news broadcasters to inform you about the world? I look to my Twitter and AOL homepage to figure out what’s going on or what’s trending with my friends, favorite celebrities and politicians. Most of the ads I see are found on my Facebook sidebar or before Hulu or YouTube videos. I barely ever watch commercials on TV now that I can fast-forward through all my shows. I especially love when Hulu asks me if a particular ad is relevant to me. How considerate of them! As you can see, I am addicted to my various social media for literally everything I care about, and frankly, I'd be pretty suspicious of any 19-year-old who isn't too.

As I continued to toil in the morgue, I realized how hard it must be to get a hold of and keep my attention now that there are never-ending distractions that are so easily accessible through technology. I’m sorry, but the ad about how much weight I can lose in a short period of time just isn’t going to cut it anymore. I’m going to ignore it and move onto something more interesting, like Miley Cyrus’ surprise engagement. It’s a natural instinct, isn’t it?

If media companies like PGM and their brands want to connect with my generation in a meaningful way, they need to promote themselves on these relatable social destinations. This process is kind of like listening to the beginning of a song. Take your average iTunes library shuffle. If the beginning of a song doesn’t excite me right away, I immediately skip to something else. I need to be creatively drawn into a product I encounter, and the easiest way to find me is on a social platform I check all day, every day—breakfast, lunch and dinner. 

I was even connected in the old-media storage room through constant notifications on my iPhone. Yeah, I didn’t know there was cell service in hell, either. 

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