Case Study: The Intern

Imagine this: An intern. New York. The intern has been working for the (insert artsy organization) for a year, unpaid and has just been cut off financially by her parents. Sounding familiar yet? She can barely pay her bills and decides that today she will ask to be hired full time, or at least to be paid. Her boss regrets her decision to leave (since she does not know photoshop or other useful skills apparently) and tells her when she gets “hungry enough” she will figure it out. She is now jobless, penniless and her essay collection will surely never be read or published as she dreams.

In a way, Girls captures so many of the ideas and experiences I almost and sometimes do have, being a twenty something living in Toronto, supporting myself, dating weirdos and playing job Jenga. But dear Lena, you have a book deal with Random House (or perhaps I should say Penguin Random House) for over 3.5 million dollars. So I guess things worked out for you. Awesome, but what about the rest of us? The economic climate has created this nifty title for those of us trying to ‘find ourselves’ and a career as well, please and thank-you. The Intern.

The intern works in a field that they love and which University told them they would have a job in by now with the help of their magical piece of paper. The intern is idealistic and hard working. The intern is excellent at blending in and very eager to please since they hope their internship may turn into a job one day. All interns are the best people ever because that is their job. They come in all shapes, skill sets, and senses of humour (a definite requirement).

I have been working as an intern in publishing with Quattro Books now for four months and it has been simply scrumtrulescent. I work with a small, but determined, ambitious, kind, gifted and amazing team at Quattro Books. I have been given every opportunity to learn, to ask questions, to choose what I might want to learn more about, to produce content, to create and to be creative.

I look back to the aforementioned clip of Hannah’s internship experience: unpaid, under-appreciated worker in the arts, hoping that they will one day be recognized, waiting to be chosen. I am sure this may be true for many artists, but my point is that it is not necessarily the case for everyone. I have met amazing new people, networked myself into other equally interesting opportunities and learned so much about the industry. Being an intern gave me the chance to see what I could be capable of, to access the potential and creativity which I try to bring with me every day to work.

I’m not just an intern, I WINtern.


3 Responses to Case Study: The Intern

  1. Alistar says:

    I don’t know if your internship at Quattro books is paid or not, but unpaid internships as far as I’m concerned should be illegal. They are not some kind of ‘rite of passage’ before you can start working a job that pays. Companies take advantage of their ‘interns’ by having them do work that should be reserved for a paid staff member. Furthermore, not everyone is in a position to take on an unpaid internship. Not everyone has their parents supporting them while they work unpaid for a year, like Lena Dunham’s character on Girls.

  2. Kristen Blank says:

    Dear Alistar,

    Thanks so much for your post and interest! We at Quattro completely agree about unpaid internships and as such I do get paid for the work I do. It is unfortunate that the unpaid internship is something that still happens and that many people still need to rely on that experience despite the lack of payment.
    This ( was an interesting article which also addresses some of the same concerns.

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