Last week I was picked up in a complimentary Audi A8 in the City and driven to a magazine party in a bespoke tailors on Saville Row, London.
There, I graced the floor with the rich and affluent alike and listened to various speeches about the craft of tailoring, gratefully sipping on complimentary champagne and scoffing down canapes.
And no, that last one wasn’t a whimsical exaggeration. I was popping ‘pes at an inhuman speed.
Not because the caramelised radish and goats cheese discs were so deliciously appetising, (as they, frustratingly, were not), but to try and numb the clawing pain in my stomach because I hadn’t been able to afford to eat that day.
And as I gave the bemused waitress a full-mouthed grin and strutted off in my £5 primark dress, I couldn’t help but feel overwhelmingly smug. Ha, got away with it.
I spent the rest of the evening chatting with influential ‘media types’ and top journalists, all whilst faking amusement at their poor jokes, all very conscious of the fact that I was going to have to call in sick next week to work because I wouldn’t have the funds to actually buy a train ticket to my unpaid internship.
Then, I left, two business cards and a promise to email in hand, and smugly strutted off to the local pub to grab myself a free pint from the Kozel pint-finder app.
Because, however awful-turned-amazing this might be, this is the reality of life as a modern-day intern.
Every place you turn to, you’re given the same ‘advice’ over and over;
‘You have to have experience…You need to make yourself stand out from the crowd… Practical, hands-on experience within a company is the best place to start…’
When what they really should be saying is; ‘Prepare yourself kiddo. You’re headed off into a bleak world of begging, arse-licking, exhaustion, rejection, being perpetually ignored, humiliation, poverty, slave-labour and pestering that’s borderline criminal behaviour. And then you still might not get in. So good luck and may god have mercy on your soul.’
But what I’ve figured out, is that all that means absolute jack all. It’s not about the work that you slave away endlessly agonising over. That’s like a set of chores you have to do before you can go play.
There’s only two things you need to know, if you want to survive as an intern or any young person looking for a job in the creative industries.
Firstly, the age-old ‘It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.’ – Never underestimate the power of that bad boy.
If you’re an intern, use your list of mundane daily tasks as a cover-up of your real mission of connecting with the people that can help you, and expressing your sincerest of gratitudes of those who have done, or you have worked with. All of this while secretly on your third layer of cover-up, working out a solid masterplan of networking, connecting, climbing and world-domination, as you wring your hands with a manic laugh whilst stuck at your desk at 3am still pinging off pointless emails.
If you’re not interning, use all your skills to find the people you need to be talking to, and use all your cunning to find a way to talk to the people you need to be talking to. Use to your advantage EVERYTHING and ANYTHING that comes your way.
Secondly, the real and only skill you need to have mastered to a tee if you want to succeed, is pretending.
If you can pretend really, really well, you are then, by default, suddenly very good at everything.
Pretending, faking it, acting, whatever you want to call it, being a successful convincer might as well be a god damn super power.
Tomorrow, by chance of an invite from a friend of a friend, I’m off to a launch party of a new diamond jewellers. Do I wear diamonds? Ha.
In the near future, is there any chance that I am going to be able to afford to wear diamonds? Not bloody likely.
Is there a chance that just one of their items of jewellry is worth more than the value of all my internal organs and life-savings combined? Almost definitely.
And am I going to let them know that? Hell no!
I’ll strut in there with a clipped, bourgeois tone, swinging my charity shop tote as if it was next seasons Prada and go on to dazzle the investors and businessmen with my charming wit and passionate enthusiasm, all whilst just about concealing the longing glimmer about my eye of all my hopes and dreams eroding away like a dying star, quickly covering up the dark circles under my eyes with a swipe of concealer and hairspraying away the malnourished dull sheen in my hair with a quick spritz of V05.
Because then again, I say all this and I’m still just a lowly, impoverished, intern facing the daily grind and surviving on tesco value tinned goods.
But hey, interns and aspiring interns of the world alike, we can get through this.
If we all grit our teeth, get our heads down and make it through the cold, endless winter that is being a young, dreaming creative in the professional world, then maybe one day we can fake our ways to the top and be in the positions to make the decisions that now control our present-selves fates.
Now, where’s that tin of baked beans…