Oh, You Want To Be An Advertising Intern? Let Me Tell You How It Works, First.

The world of advertising is a dangerous place. It is populated with a species known for their fragile, inflated egos more than their rudimentary skill or creative talent. They pride themselves on being charming fraudsters. These con-artists come with a sharp tongue and flexible ethics. They’ll sell you a dead cockroach for the price of an emerald, and make it look like a bargain. You’ll go home with empty pockets but with a contended smile on your face. They offer what the saints, with their undecipherable sermons and heavenly connections, couldn’t deliver.

They will sell you happiness, peace and satisfaction. Even if it lasts for a minute, it’ll be worth it. But if you, the gullible customer, aren’t content with the worldly pleasures and are dying for more. Something like carbon candy or instant immortality, I’d suggest you ask them nicely. They won’t say no.

When it comes to acquiring accounts they don’t care if they have to beg, borrow, steal or lie, cheat and even kill. You think screaming murder is taking it a bit too far. That I am exaggerating for poetic effect. That’s because you haven’t seen them all together, mull over ideas and strategies. They make the crusaders look like old men in soiled diapers. You will learn to trust me if you hear their predatorial voices discussing plots of expansion in the sacred dungeon where the board of directors drink and talk. Talk and drink.

Always smoking, always thinking.

Ruthless is their middle name. Jackass is what their juniors call them. They are “Douche bags” to their female colleagues. True, their mamas wouldn’t be so proud. But these gods of “doubtful character” don’t care. If they can get a fair price, they’ll sell their mamas too.

Add to the mix a few mugs of insecurities, some buckets of desperation with a generous chunk of self-doubt thrown in and you’ve got yourself a peculiar tribe of advertising interns. I should know. I am one of them.

Our tribe is as varied as a mixed fruit salad. There are literature majors, students from mighty institutions of mass media, friends and relatives of the management. There are some who have a way with words and some who have a knack for being at the right place at the right time. I am pretty sure there’s also a lawyer. We prance around in showy, sufficient clothes and comfortable sandals. Some wear suits that can put the management team to shame. Our social life is non-existent, hooking up is random and partying is a pleasant compulsion.

We are an ambitious lot lured to the land of advertising by the promise of easy money, rivers of alcohol and infinite game. It is a glamorous field, no doubt about that, at least in principle. And the clients are idiots who don’t know what’s good for them. That is something all agencies have agreed on.

We are not trusted with any real work. We are an errand-running, paper-pushing, cell phone-toting pack of drivel creators the agency can do without. Our main job is to shower praises on the real workers while learning as much as we can. We act as their ego-boosters (or arse-kissers) that are ready to worship the ground they walk on.

The copywriters, the art team and the account-handlers do all the work while we cheer them on to their fat paychecks, coronaries, divorces and sometimes the eventual mid-life crisis.

We are overworked and underpaid. No benefits, no respect. But we don’t mind because we are just biding our time. Soon we’ll have our offers and we will usher in an era of excellence and innovation that’ll take the world by storm. The industry pundits will sit up and take notice. Not all the interns will make it to the ‘Promised Land’ of course. Some will quit, unable to cope with the pressure and demands of the job. Others will be shown the door and advised to pursue simpler professions. But those who do make it to the top will realize that it was all worth the wait. The late-nights, the rotten relationships, the snide remarks, the back-stabbing, all that smoke and alcohol will mean something.

Walking through these hallowed corridors of my ramshackle yet revered agency I smile a subtle smile. I am taking coffee to the senior copywriter who’s waiting for his morning fix in a cramped cabin. Little does he know; today he’ll get more than he hoped for. I have an idea that’ll blow his mind and land us the coveted account everyone’s drooling for. I stop, take a deep breath and just as I am about to knock, I realize just how close I am to the ultimate dream. I’m almost there, almost. TC mark

featured image – Flickr / Hash Milhan

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