When we were interns, our biggest concern was finding enough busy-work to look occupied. That's passe: nowadays, "stories of interns abusing their meager status are abundant."
I blame Dominique Swain. Not for Girl, which is an awesome/horrible 90s time capsule, but for The Intern, the 1999 proto Devil-Wears-Prada in which her lowly fashion intern for some reason does all the work of an assistant, gets the guy, and also somehow ends up both on the cover and with an editorial job. Clearly, this, in combo with Lewinsky, gave a whole generation of college kids — or at least employers — a very skewed idea.
Back in my day, the only solid internship story I ever heard was when a friend of mine got to escort a drunk, prominent writer into a cab and he vomited on the way. Here at Jezebel, it's no exaggeration to say that the interns seriously keep things running, and have on more than one occasion evolved into full-time writers. But to believe ABC, we're being had: apparently "Interns Run Amuck" and "Intern Horror Stories" is a whole thing.
There was the Forbes 400 one who took it upon herself to arrange a meeting with the then-fugitive financier Marc Rich and his press representative in Geneva, Switzerland. When she asked whether Forbes would pay for her flight to Europe, she was told, in no uncertain terms, no. She went anyway. Another rich list intern started working on a tell-all book about her summer covering the wealthy at Forbes. She put out calls to billionaires for quotes from her college dorm room—until Forbes' lawyer issued a cease and desist letter.
And even the mighty O was not safe:
At Oprah magazine, a pair of summer interns intercepted fashion show invitations meant for high-level editors and sent back RSVPs with the editors' names crossed out and their own written in. "We were talking major fashion week shows like Oscar de la Renta," recalls Beth Thomas Cohen, a former Oprah accessories editor who was in charge of the internship program at the time. Cohen, who now works as a publicist, fired the interns within 24 hours of discovering their misdeeds.
Sometimes, they steal electronics. And, in the words of ABC, "then there are the sex stories." It seems the hussies can't keep their hands off their superiors. "A quick, informal canvass of a few colleagues at Forbes revealed tales of female college students sleeping with Wall Street titans in their 40s and 50s and a young male intern who bedded the head of human resources at a financial services company." How does this happen? We're glad you asked: "This behavior is fueled by many interns' failure to comprehend the importance of discreet attire." Indeed, one little tramp of a U.S. Robotics intern, we're informed, arrived at work "dressed for sex." But it's not all bad: "On the Forbes leadership team this summer, we have an amazing, highly productive college intern, Seth Cline who wears a tie, is unfailingly polite, and turns in nearly flawless copy."
Poor Mr. Cline aside, it seems pretty harsh to pile onto a population that, first of all, these bosses presumably hired; works primarily for free and, nowadays, is probably harder-working and more qualified than ever before: in a job market like this one, plenty of people are willing to take whatever experience they can get - and not so they can sleep with the boss or rip off an iPad. Never mind that when we hear stories of "female college students sleeping with Wall Street titans in their 40s and 50s" not to mention on Capitol Hill - it seems like the balance of power could be read in quite another way than "scheming Lolita." (We told you it all comes back to Swain.)