Diary of an Intern: Tired as hell, not going to take it anymore

Dropping restaurant job frees up more time for interning

Can you believe that my parents still haven't told me about my $1 million trust fund? I had been hoping to invest this money in a wholly undeserved luxury vehicle and an expensive drug habit, but due to my parents' playful reticence, these financial undertakings must wait until they spill the beans. In the meantime, I've been practicing my "A trust fund? What a surprise!" face and also waiting tables to make some cash.

Waiting tables, like interning, is pretty demeaning - almost as demeaning as prostitution. But street whores get $20 for just seven minutes of work. What do I get after a six-hour lunch shift? Not nearly enough. This is due, in part, to the neighborhood trophy wives who, wary of overspending their weekly allowances, never tip a respectful 20 percent. I can't help that these women (and their husbands, presumably, for guiding them to such terrible plastic surgeons) are cheap. But they're not the only people who eat at the restaurant, so why am I making so little money?

It's because I'm tired as hell. Tired of school, tired of my internship, tired of my job at the restaurant. Tired of knowing that tomorrow only brings more of the same gruesome combination. If only the trophy wives could sense my dissatisfaction with life! Then they might tip me with unprecedented generosity, if only out of pity (or perhaps empathy). Instead, they see my rolling, bloodshot eyes and pained, chilling smile. Hi, my name is Mike, and you've the misfortune of having me as your server today.

Like so many other AU students, I'm forced to have an after-school job because - surprise! - my internship is unpaid. Somehow this is legal. In general, as long as companies refer to their unpaid temp workers as "interns," they avoid violating the federal Fair Labor Standards Act, which sets minimum wage. Still, there are some limitations to this loophole, which is why you don't see interns at places like TDR or Tenley Liquor.

For-profit businesses can only score free student labor if the intern is getting school credit. This supposedly guarantees that the internship is for the educational benefit of the student, rather than the financial benefit of the employer. Gee, that makes sense! Moving on.

Oh, but wait. Let's consider this for a moment. In order to have an unpaid internship, you must receive school credit. And as we all know, school credit costs money. This means that you are paying thousands of dollars to work somewhere for free. As they read this, hundreds of unpaid interns are breaking down in tears.

Naturally, I've found a clever way around this. If you want to have an unpaid internship but don't necessarily need the school credit required of it, just give your local community college a call. Credits are about $100 each, and most community colleges offer one-credit internship classes. The best part: Once you've signed up for the class and your internship adviser receives the paperwork, you can kiss your community college professor goodbye. Since AU would never in your wildest dreams transfer the credit, you needn't bother doing any of the assignments!

Anyway, back to my crappy double-life as a waiter. Even though my current internship is unpaid, I'm always sure it takes precedent over the restaurant. The latter may pay the bills, but serving endive salads to strangers is not my life's work. So when both the restaurant and my internship scheduled me to work the other morning, it was goodbye, lunch shift; hello, Xerox machine! The unexpected upshot: The day manager took away my Saturday dinner shift as a penalty for calling out of work. Oh, dear God, now I am left with an open Saturday night, my first in weeks! Clearly, I will lounge around, get drunk, laugh with my friends, and think long and hard about my actions. Idiots.

Actually, I anticipate having more of these free Saturday nights in the near future. That's correct, friends. I've quit the restaurant. For now, it's just me, my classes, my internship and - any day now, I'm sure - my trust fund.

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

badintern@gmail.com

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