Sunday, June 29, 2008

Monday Mondays

“As a rock star, I have two instincts, I want to have fun, and I want to change the world. I have a chance to do both.”

The first day of any new job can be scary. Can I handle the work? Will I get along with my coworkers? Will the receptionist immediately develop a stern hatred for me, thus providing for numerous awkward encounters a la The Janitor from Scrubs? Needless to say, such questions swarmed my head the first time I entered Wenner Media Headquarters, located in the heart of Midtown Manhattan at 1290 Avenue of the Americas (or 1290 6th Avenue for those New York natives reading in). After going through several rounds of temporary ID’s and briefly meeting two out of seemingly countless bosses, I was ushered into a conference room straight out of 1979, complete with faux wood paneling and poorly hidden electrical outlets (apparently Rolling Stone first occupied the building in 1991, so I have no clue as to why the conference rooms resemble the Brady Bunch house). For your convenience, I've included a few pics from around the office.** This would be the first of many weekly sales and marketing meetings, which start promptly at 9:50am every Monday.

First note to self: don’t be late on Mondays. Even though interns are relegated to sitting along the windowsill when the chairs inevitably fill up, it’s always good to be in the know regarding the week’s sales goals. Or at least, and this is according to my bosses’ bosses’ boss, I should assume so.

After the meeting, which lasted about 40 minutes and ruined my posture for life as I struggled to get comfortable on the windowsill, work began. As I would figure out after three weeks into the job, Mondays are all pretty similar. The interns head to the Rolling Stone library (pictured above, and yes, there are stacks of free magazines ripe for the picking) and start searching through copies of competing publications for various types of adds sorted by product, targeted age groups, etc. Then we compile massive spreadsheets for the higher-ups so they can see how Blender handled the Sony client, how many pages Spin dedicated to in-house promotions, and what cool new scratch-and-sniff fragrance Details included in a fold out. Personally, I’m partial to covering the Maxim and FHM spreadsheets. For the articles, obviously.

Mix in a few RSVP confirmation calls, update some complimentary copy lists, and maybe help a panicking editorial intern research Amy Winehouse’s latest crack bust, and you have a fairly standard Monday. Fairly standard, fairly boring. Three hours into my very first day, and I was praying for lunch hour to arrive, hoping that some change in scenery could save my brain from boredom and my eyes from spreadsheets.

I needed some respite from the monotony. But where? How? Who?

Thankfully, New York City is a place filled to the brim with Harvard influence, and friends from school aren’t hard to find. Every summer the undergrads of America’s oldest and most crimson university head about 250 miles south to find jobs, fight for housing, and pay $6.75 for a half-gallon of 2% milk. So when I found out that my good friend Teddy Coleman, first chair on Harvard’s chess team and all-around swell guy, was working in Manhattan this summer, I was elated, if a bit unsurprised (I’ve include a picture of Teddy for your convenience; feel free to approach him on campus any time during the school year, and make sure to tell him I sent you). I was even more pleased to find that his office sits only a few blocks away from Rolling Stone headquarters, making our weekly lunch meetings both convenient and inevitable.

It took us a few lunches to find the restaurant that best suited our needs. After two weeks, however, we settled upon a Chinese place connected to the building housing Rolling Stone. The combination of cheap entrees, questionable ingredients, and ornery chefs serving the food up hot was just too good to pass by. Expect to here more about Teddy and his wacky adventures in future entries.

After lunch it was back to the grind. One great thing about Mondays, if there’s anything great about Mondays, is the end. Such oppressive boredom can’t last forever. Luckily for me, my first day ended on a rather high note when the Intern Coordinator commented on how quickly I was catching on. Now, most interns will tell you, and I’m no exception, that their jobs aren’t the most glamorous in the world. They work for their respective companies diligently, often without payment (much like yours truly), and can expect little in the way of congratulations or thanks. From time to time, however, an employer will mercifully throw old Joe Intern a compliment, thus brightening the day and ensuring that a career counselor somewhere gets their wings. It won’t be too flowery, and they might get your name flat out wrong, but they noticed you nonetheless and took two seconds to distinguish you from the copying machine and coffee maker. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is what really keeps us going.

Tune in next time when I cover more from around the office, highlight the dangers of trying new places for lunch, and reveal why gentlemen (and interns) prefer Tuesdays.


*The author is not a paid representative of “U2,” although he did find the South Park episode that uncovered Bono’s true identity very, very funny.

**Due to copyright law, certain parts of the office and non of the artwork present therein can be displayed online. Unfortunately, that means you won't be seeing any one of several Beatles murals, a blouse-wearing Prince portrait, or an image of Jimi Hendrix with a guitar bridge for a spine. This, of course, does not mean that I don't enjoy the artwork.