First Day of Internship

It’s been a bad day. I started a new short-term internship doing research for a well-known foreign news bureau today. Since the other bureau refused my unpaid services on some interpretation of Russia’s new law number 39758, I thought experience with this bureau would look good on my resume as I start to look for jobs. Plus the TV desk head is a personal friend (I’ve babysat his kids!), so I’ve been hoping to throw in a recommendation.

D. explained it as research. “Basically Russia is taking over the arctic. See if we can’t get someone to let us film the nuclear oil rigs they’re building, or military exercises on Novaya Zemlaya, or follow their scientists to the newly renovated stations on the north pole.”

75 hours later, eyes glazed over from staring at reams of dense, scientific, backlit Cyrillic on my computer screen, I decided “excellent research skills” wasn’t going to be a highlight on my new resume. The result of my hours of labor today? Four emails with requests for more information (one of which was promptly sent back to my inbox with “Delivery to recipient failed permanently”), and the names of two polar stations. Pa-the-tic.

Forty-five minutes til the start of my evening class, I shut my computer down, and tried to think of a way to make the day’s results sound good to D. before I left.

D: “How’d it go?”

Me: “Well, slower than I would’ve liked, but I sent some emails, and got some information?”

D: “Any luck with the oil rigs?”

Me: (trying to point out my newly-gained knowledge of Russian arctic domination strategy) “Oh, you mean the drifting nuclear power plants? Yeah, I sent a few emails, but haven’t heard back.” (See, it’s not my fault that there aren’t any results – it’s those lazy St. Petersburg ship-builders!)

D: “Oh, yeah. You might try calling them. They’re sometimes really slow at email.” (actually, it’s your fault, you incompetent intern!)

I totally feel like a loser. 26 hours til the weekend. I can make it. And I’m back at it again tomorrow. I’m gonna hit those oil-hungry Russian-speaking Arctic conspirists so hard, they won’t see what’s coming, and will gladly bow to my demands to allow a crew of foreign journalists on their North Pole dog sled expeditions!!! Right?

Economist husband is home. Time to make the raw chicken and celery into soup. This from Anne Lamott’s “Bird by Bird” was comforting after a sucky day at work:

Then, with your fingers poised on the keyboard, you squint at an image that is forming in your mind…and you try to quiet your mind so you can hear what that landscape or character has to say above the other voices in your mind. The other voices are banshees and drunken monkeys. They are the voices of anxiety, judgment, doom, guilt. Also, severe hypochondria. There may be a Nurse Ratched-like listing of things that must be done right this moment: foods that must come out of the freezer, appointments that must be canceled or made, hairs that must be tweezed. But you hold an imaginary gun to your head and make yourself stay at the desk…

So, that’s what I’m going to do tomorrow. Put a gun to my head and call the factory in St. Pete, force research facts out of the vast cyber pits of Russian news archives, and get some results. Even if I ask stupid questions, and look like I’m incompetent, and make Russian grammar mistakes that give the person on the other end the impression that I’m mentally retarded. All with in the very real realm of possibilities.

Everybody Loves Raymond.

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One Response to First Day of Internship

  1. Pingback: Do you want to be a journalist? (part II) | Breakfast in Moscow

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