So I had my first ever interview last Wednesday (15/10/14), and this is the tale of how it went. (Bear with me, it’s a long one).
I heard about an internship that was available at a local paper called [name removed because Nikolai is scared of getting sued]. I emailed said paper and asked whether the internship was still available; I received an email back asking me to forward them my CV and so I did. After doing so, I got a phone call asking me to come in for – spoiler alert – an interview.
I was over the moon! After months of sending out CVs only to get no response, I had finally gotten an actual interview – hashtag blessed.
Fast forward to interview day: I turned up a half hour early to seem professional and so that I had time to mentally prepare myself. “You’ve got this”, I said, “No one can sell themself like you can… not like that… you know what I mean”, I said.
I then ran into a friend from varsity who was already an intern there. He told me what to expect as he’d gone through this before me. He also said as part of the interview, I’d have to write 15 pitches (which in and of itself is ridiculous). Anyway, I noticed it was 5 minutes passed the time my interview was meant to begin, so he offered to tell them I was waiting.
A short while later, the Editor of the paper came out to fetch me – let’s call her “Bethany Deville”. She put her hand out to shake mine and for some reason I had suddenly forgotten how to shake hands. I limply grasped her hand and attempted a handshake – I failed (“Shit, you win this round, Bethany”, I thought to myself). She then led me to the conference room where my interview would take place.
Along with her walked in a man, who I’m still not sure what he does really but I’m sure it’s something cool – let’s call him “Bob”, because I can’t think of anything that rhymes with his actual name.
So there I sat, looking at Bethany and Bob, Bethany and Bob looking at me – it was romantic really. I reminded myself “You can do this, tell them your strengths, tell them you once punched a shark – it’s plausible, they can’t prove that you didn’t”.
Then they started asking me questions and I soon realised I wasn’t prepared. Things like “How can we increase the number of readers? (Or something to that effect). “I don’t know, build a time-machine and travel back to when people actually read newspapers?”, I thought but realised I couldn’t say out loud.
Other questions expected me to produce stories out of thin air “Give me a Hard News story”, “Give me a Human Interest story”, “If you were interviewing someone who won R10 million, tell me 5 questions you would ask them” – the romance ended.
Ordinarily, it would be easy to answer these if maybe… I dunno, I was told what was expected of me beforehand – but I was told NOTHING about this interview and was suddenly asked to produce.
YOU, reading this, think of a hard news story and a human interest story RIGHT NOW, DO IT, DO IT RIGHT NOW. Can you do it? I doubt it. (If you can, you should totally send them your CV).
I was told to bring in pieces I had previously written – I took a portfolio of work I did when I FIRST did journalism in varsity (and knew nothing really), as well as work from my Honours Journalism class – where I was a much better writer and the Editor of my class newspaper (HELLO). They looked at the shitty work only and ignored my reference letter and Honours pieces altogether – that seems fair, right?
Anyway, after they were done asking me questions, I was asked to excuse them while they deliberated. I did, and I sat outside reciting my mantra: “You are a strong, ghettolicious woman who don’t need no man” (I never said it was related to the interview okay). Then, they called me back in.
I was told that they were rejecting me because they didn’t feel I was a Hard News journalist (or something, I zoned out because I missed breakfast and was thinking about a doughnut). I was told I need to work on my spelling and grammar (HOW VERY DARE YOU, SIR), but my absolute favourite line was “We experienced this before. We hired interns who we weren’t sure about and they proved us right” – Bob. Bob said this. To my face.
So I was being punished because other people didn’t cut it. That makes sense, I mean after all, all human beings are exactly the same so if the previous guys messed up, I obviously would too. Hey, Psychologists, you guys can all quit because Bob and Bethany figured out how humans work!
Silly me, I thought internships were meant to be learning experiences, Google thought so too: “Unlike conventional employment, internships have an emphasis on training, rather than employment itself”. But apparently, when applying for a Journalism internship, you need to be an experienced journalist. Who knew?
To Bethany and Bob’s credit, they did say that they may be able to publish some of my “creative writing” – they of course wouldn’t pay me, but it would help me build up my portfolio. Thanks, guys, when the bill collectors come knocking, I’ll show them my thick portfolio and they’ll tear those bills right up! Who needs money?! Not my portfolio! ☺
Anyway, I didn’t get the job and despite my best efforts to get ol’ Bethany and Bob to see the error of their ways, my attempts at contact have fallen on deaf ears. Apparently I’m not good enough to write film reviews and get stories off the internet to fill space in an already very skinny newspaper. Oh well.
In closing, I’d like to wish Bethany, Bob and the paper everything of the best. May you continue to sell your 12 000 copies in a city with a population of ±700 thousand people. You guys are awesome and amazing.