Diary of an Intern: Putting your best face forward

Look great, or act like you do, in the office

The only thing worse than an intern who is smarter than you is an intern who is hotter than you. Unless you work at the American Foundation for the Blind, there is no way to deny this unfortunate but universal fact.

Attractive interns are more likely to receive larger wages, faster promotions and frequent opportunities to file potentially lucrative sexual harassment suits. And rightfully so. After all, interns are a lot like steaks; not only must they be well-prepared, but they must be hot.

I may not be the hottest dog on the grill, but I'm not overweight and I don't have excessive backne. This gave me an edge over a fellow summer intern, who boasted these two unfortunate qualities. "Claire" - an ugly alias for an ugly intern - was entirely deserving of workplace discrimination. Though we never mistreated her in a way that would warrant legal action, the other interns and I avoided Claire as one might a leper or, say, an extremely unattractive person. This seemed excusable at the time, but in retrospect, I should have dropped the internship to avoid her entirely.

Despite her shortcomings as a sex object, Claire somehow managed to be hired as an intern. This goes against everything society and my mother have taught me. If we allow unattractive people to succeed, then what will we allow next? Federally funded stem cell research? Same-sex marriage? White after Labor Day? It's just not right.

It seems Claire landed her internship the only way ugly people can: through a good interview. You know, I give Claire credit. In the span of her 15-minute interview, she bewitched my internship adviser into seeing past her unwashed hair, thrift-shop blazer and backwoods accent. It must have had something to do with her sincere enthusiasm and unequivocal qualifications. Hey, if that's what it takes, Claire, then more power to you!

Personally, I hate interviews. Perhaps this is because I hate being asked stupid questions. "What's your major? Where are you from? How are you involved at school?" (I also hate being asked, "Are you a model?" But only when it's not said loud enough for others to hear.) My resum? speaks for itself, as does my headshot, so let's cut the small talk. When do I start?

But unless you're a day laborer waiting on the curbside for that fateful Ford pickup, an interview is generally a prerequisite for employment. This benefited Claire, and it can benefit you as well, no matter how unimpressionable you are. Just follow my advice on the matter, as I've bombed an interview only once. (Housing and Dining Programs only hires RAs who are misshapen, unpopular and regularly sober; I didn't fit in from the start.)

And now, for the dreaded list:

1. Act like you want the job. As in, if you were offered the job, your subsequent orgasm would demolish the neighboring strip mall through the sheer force of its waves of pleasure. Employers like enthusiastic people, and it's one way to get around a resum? that stretches desperately back to your accomplishments in Girl Scout Troop 406.

2. When the adviser concludes the interview by asking if you have any questions, do not stare at him blankly. Instead, ask questions about the company. Most employers are interested only in students who show long-term potential, so you'll want to pretend you have a vested interest in the future of the business. Some good topics to ramble on about: Where your adviser sees himself in five years, where he sees the business in five years, how the business has changed since either its most recent merger, the advent of the Internet or Sept. 11.

3. Wear pink. If you're a guy, don a pink tie. If you're a girl, tie a pink scarf around your neck. It's perfectly acceptable, if not recommended, to wear something colorful. You are dressing for an interview, not a funeral.

4. Let's say your resum? is awful and your grotesque physique leaves much (or little, I suppose) to be desired. Your only hope is to do the things that everyone else forgot to do. Offer a firm handshake. Smile nice and big. Cross your legs and appear at ease. Oh, and get a nose job. You'll be thanking me later, Claire.

Michael Vallebuona is a senior journalism and CLEG major. Diary of an Intern runs every Thursday.


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