The word “internship” never garners happy thoughts when you’re finally making money. So, I surprised myself by how badly I wanted to work dinero free at Writer’s House, the discoverer of hits like The Babysitter’s Club, and uh, Twilight.
So what if I worshipped Claudia and her best friend Stacey? So what if my 12 year old self fought tooth and nail to land the coveted role of neighborhood babysitter? (Ok, competition was slim)
Yeah, I was obsessed. I threw on my best “you can trust me” suit, and jumped on the 1 line. The Writer’s House building was a red balloon of possibility, and I couldn’t wait to grab it. I buzzed, and a jovial man named Michael let me in. As the Director of their acclaimed internship program, his sincerity was cool seltzer on a scorching day.
Michael had 2 key philosophical curveballs, including the “Why do you like what you like?” and “How are you going to do it when it’s your turn?”. When it was my turn, I was ready: “So, Michael, given your years of experience, is there something you wish you’d done differently?” He glanced sideways at the silver framed portrait of his favorite interns, and smiled, “I would’ve listened better”.
I breezed through the second round interview and submitted my editorial letter. Weeks later, after countless “Did I get it?” internal monologues, I got the email. More or less, it politely stated “no”. As a mature adult, I cried and downed a rum and coke. I also happened to be jobless at time so the response was searing. I naively thought my walk up initiative would yield the most obvious result.
9 months later, I am thankful for Michael’s parting advice.
How could I listen better? To others and myself?
Myself was a good place to start. Was I really suited for the life of a writer’s agent? Would I be happy reading slush piles and editing others’ work? Or did I want to take an even riskier path and work on my own writing?
Perhaps, Michael already knew the answer.