Confessions of an Unpaid Intern

I’ve just finished up my first week at WXPN.  My reflections can basically be sorted into two categories.

The BEST things about my internship thus far:

1)      Being constantly surrounded by music and people who like music is definitely the biggest perk.  Even though a lot of what I’m doing is formatting scripts, researching featured artists and writing promotional blurbs, it all involves music I’m interested in.  I’m absorbing so much information about new artists and albums that I easily get lost in the work.   I can’t help but listen to the bands while I write about them.  Just walking through the hallways of the WXPN office makes me happy – they’re covered in signatures of all the bands that have been there before.  I can usually be found gawking at the names of my favorites in the middle of the hallway, looking like the shell-shocked teenage girl that I am.  Another great thing about working with music is the vast CD collection I get to sample while I type endless documents.

2)      Getting to meet bands and musicians is pretty awesome.  I am in charge of taking care of bands that come in to record for the World Café program.  Thus far I’ve “hosted” Summer Fiction, an indie rock band who’s actually really good (look them up!) and some guy named Vusi.  He’s from South Africa, where he’s known as “The Voice” (I wasn’t sure what to call him.  It ended up just being “sir”).  I get them coffee and take pictures for the website while they do a sound check.  The picture part is slightly uncomfortable, especially since the grumpy videographer likes to tell me I’m “in his shot.”  I also make sure they sign the wall.  But otherwise, it’s really fun chatting with the band and hearing them play.  I’ll try and post about the artists more when I host in the future.  (Hopefully) I’ll even get to sit in on their recording sessions with David Dye.

3)      The other interns are really great and supportive.  No one flinched for a gratuitously long time when I told them I was in high school (“Yeah I’m doing a Senior Project…No I’m not a senior in college.”).  They all like the same kind of music that I do and it’s really fun to swap concert stories and favorite albums.  They’ve been really helpful in showing me the ropes and editing my writing and research.  They’re all local college students: two from Penn, three from Temple, one from Drexel.  Most of them have been working at WXPN for three or four years, which is a little intimidating. 

4)      The Free at Noon show – which takes place every Friday – features a World Café artist for a free show, at… well, noon.  The interns are in charge of making sure the show runs smoothly, but we also get to watch it.  I can’t wait to see my first one! They are often packed and difficult to get passes for, but as an intern I have first priority.  Adele performed two weeks ago and Bobby Long is performing in a couple of weeks (watch him here, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AAG2flpe8Yg ).

The WORST things about my internship thus far:

1)      The commute is killer.  I live 45 minutes outside of the city, but during rush-hour, it’s more like an hour.  Instead of driving the whole way, I drive to a local train station (which takes a half hour due to the horrendous traffic) and then get on a train to 30th Street Station.  By the time I’m at the WXPN building, I’ve been commuting for almost an hour and a half.

2)      Being in high school feels a little weird.  People keep asking me where I go to college and it’s very uncomfortable to tell them I’m not in college yet.  When a band member from Summer Fiction inquired about school, I hesitated for a while before stupidly blurting out “I’m a student!”  He looked at me very strangely and didn’t press the matter.  Hopefully I’ll handle this question better in the future, I just don’t want to be treated differently because I’m a few years younger than the other interns.  It’s beginning to seem almost inevitable, though.  I’m just happy that the college students I work with don’t seem to care. 

3)      When I tell anyone I’m doing this internship, they say to me: “I bet you’re doing a ton of clerical work, since it’s an entry-level job.  That’s how everyone starts out: at the bottom of the food chain.”  I’m very sick of being told this, mostly because I am doing a ton of clerical work, but also because it’s hard to hear again and again how everyone has  to “start at the bottom.”  I get it.  I’m living it.  It can still be fun and worthwhile, though – that’s the goal. 

Beyond that, I’m just getting started and learning the ropes.  I’m hoping to post some interesting stories in the future because I’m meeting some pretty cool artists!  I hear Bright Eyes is coming in for a session in a couple of weeks…Stay tuned.  And don’t forget to listen to the World Café on NPR!

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