Where Will All the Interns Go?

October 23, 2013

ghost

You may have heard by now that come 2014, Condé Nast will officially end its intern program. As an alum of the soon-to-be-retired program I have to admit it’s kind of sad, like when your favorite park closes or your grammar school shuts down to make room for the high school’s expansion. 

I have so many fond memories from my interning days at Condé and I swear that’s not sarcastic. After two weeks of sufficient hazing — garment bag shlepping, Starbucks runs (I can actually still tell you how three very important editors take theirs, late nights and early mornings) — I had a come-to-Stanley Tucci moment where I realized that I could either hate my life and complain, or I could realize that I had the internship a million girls would kill for. As soon as my epiphany occurred it was like the heavens opened and the sun shown down and I realized fashion was one big game of Darwinism and I cried “Gloria Gaynor have mercy on my soul because I will SURVIVE!” And I did. And look where I am now.

But what about the interns who will no longer be able to have those make-it-or-break-it moments? What about the girls and boys who applied this past summer in hopes of making it in to the winter program? Where will all the interns go?

I picture a few scenarios, all heart wrenching and whatnot because I’m just feeling really Charles Dickens-y today.

The first is just this Oliver Twist-like hall of all the kids walking around in rags, their tattered loin cloths a shredded memory of what had once been Brand New Clothes they purchased for a now-defunct internship. “Please sir,” one of them might say with big, watery eyes as they hold up an old Prada shoe to the clerk at Barneys, “May I have some more?”

The second is that they all go off to Neverland and join Rufio’s clan of Lost Boys. They’ll hang out with Thud Butt and Don’t Ask, Pockets and Too Small. The interns will be never have to grow up and yet, they’ll never know rush of entering 4 Times Square as a glorified messenger, either.

And then, maybe because it’s almost Halloween and my brain is just on this really creepy track lately, I can’t help but picture the interns actually not leaving Condé Nast. I picture them hiding out in the walls or under desks, crawling out only after lights off and having giant dance parties wherein they dress up in all the clothes and shoes set up for shoots and then run around like maniacs searching for crumbs from leftover birthday cupcakes. Each morning when all the editors arrive it will be as if nothing ever happened save for an odd patch of glitter that someone assumes must just be from an old Miu Miu sandal.

In reality the interns will be fine — they’ll go on to fantastic things and some will most likely end up at Condé Nast one day.

But in twenty years if you close your eyes on a cold October night and the city decides to shut the fuck up for ten seconds, you’ll be able to hear a faint voice on a breeze coming off the Hudson river. “I think I left the Chanel on the subway,” it will softly whisper. The Ghost of Interns Past.

— Amelia Diamond

  • Emily Nolan

    SO SAD! I was also a summer intern for Allure magazine at Code Nast. This was the best intern experience I can imagine! I made some amazing lifelong friends there too!

  • Anna Carolina Torres

    Ridiculous! :((

  • http://madamecouture.blogspot.com/ Emma Hager

    When I heard the news this morning via Twitter, my world was
    turned upside-down. My whole life trajectory involved getting an internship at
    Condé to somehow break into the industry. Of course, there are so many other
    publications to intern for (most of which I’d actually prefer for aesthetic
    reason), but I can’t help but think about the magic lost in not being able to
    enter that building, anxiously rehearsing and memorizing coffee orders for top
    editors. Really though: does anyone have any tips on breaking into
    the industry now that this major gateway is closed?! My guess is that come tomorrow there will be
    a line outside of the MR office (not unlike those for bread and soup during the
    Depression) of girls looking for another gateway into the industry.
    Perhaps this is just another testament to the DIY and
    approachability of the internet as a means for the “girl next door” to be the “next
    big thing…?

    • Leandra Medine

      Our door is open, Hager!

      • http://madamecouture.blogspot.com/ Emma Hager

        I will water the mini-cacti and draw ovaries on the whiteboard and fetch Juice Press and search the farthest corners of the web for BOI content.

    • Amelia Diamond

      Also, Emma, (and anyone else out there) I really think that the best time to go to Condé is after you have a whole lot of experience under your belt. So get some basic internships out of the way first and then you can walk in to CN like you own the place.

      • http://madamecouture.blogspot.com/ Emma Hager

        Thanks, Amelia, for your thoughtful comments! You guys are mentors to me and that’s a fact.

        • Charlotte Fassler

          I would agree with Amelia but also advise that it is beneficial to work somewhere huge and more corporate in starting off to get a feel for things and a great overview of different facets of whatever industry you find yourself interested in. My first internship was at a talent agency and I feel like the high pressure grind of a big office helped instill a particular work ethic that I have applied to future jobs that were more niche. Definitely important to get those broader experiences under your belt before figuring out that niche.

          • http://madamecouture.blogspot.com/ Emma Hager

            Hi Charlotte!
            Thanks for your advice! I definitely wish to explore some broader things before (or ever) delving into the niche! Guess it is sort of like an liberal arts education-type approach to professions.

      • http://madamecouture.blogspot.com/ Emma Hager

        Also curious: anyone have any insight unto how people might “break into” CN from here on out? Do you think there might be more of an emphasis on connections or more on an extensive resumé ? My sense, like Charlotte mentioned below, is that they will feel the effects of not having all of those eager interns on hand. There are a lot of little factors that go into running a publication, one of which is keeping the editors caffeinated.

    • Quinn

      I feel that!

  • Maria

    Why are they ending the intern program? I wonder if its a move to cut expenses (although I am sure most interns are unpaid) or to open more entry level positions? Anyone know?

    • Kelley

      They very first line of the article she hyperlinked at the beginning of this story explains it all….”The end of the program comes after the publisher was sued this summer by two former interns who claimed they were paid below the minimum wage during internships at W and The New Yorker.”

  • Natasha Ndlovu

    This is a tricky one and here is my opinion why: On the one hand, with all these new labor laws in NYC being enforced in the fashion industry (see model alliance) it does not come as a surprise that from all the horror stories you hear, the govt has decided to end these internships in order to protect workers because trying to enforce rules under the ‘internship’ umbrella would have been difficult. There would have been so many exceptions made or arguments on what constitutes paid work / being taken advantage of versus this is what you applied for, so why are you complaining.

    On the other, it closes a door for young professionals who wanted to put their foot through the door (literally) and gain valuable contacts. I am sure there are some out there who would have “sucked it up” all in the name of having Conde Nast in their CVs and getting a step further. Let’s face it, coffee runs for a satanic boss is more bearable than working in some delapidated sweatshop in a 3rd world country. Some people would have been able to grin and bear the long hours.

    But because we are human and New York is not cheap, and some people TRULY have something valuable to bring to the table, it makes sense that we prevent internships which technically are entry-level position using free labor because apparently all your talent, student-debt at X univeristy and time/ energy dedicated to a magazine are apparently not even worth a dollar an hour. Oh well, that’s just my two cents.

    http://www.bisousnatasha.com

  • http://madamecouture.blogspot.com/ Emma Hager

    and to be honest, these measure sorta dramatic some slip-ups.

  • Rebecca

    Oh FFS people, this isn’t sad or tragic; it’s high time CN stopped taking advantage of the abundant work performed by unpaid interns and had to actually HIRE and PAY people for entry-level positions. The reason they’re ending the program is because it’s totally illegal (not to mention immoral and unethical). Stop crying in your juice cleanse, wake up and smell the Celine…exploitation (even of poor little rich girls) is not cool.

    • Amelia Diamond

      Does FFS mean for fucks sake? hahahahahahhaha

    • Amelia Diamond

      Also though guys, because I was an unpaid intern for years and feel it benefitted me in more ways then I can count, my opinion is heavily biased. BUT I would love to hear all of your takes — the pros and the cons.

  • http://www.stylefile.in/ Dayle Pereira

    It is so sad! My big magazine internship at Elle changed my life in a number of ways & I’m so thankful. Anyhoo, the interns will probably be fine and still have a number of places to apply at :)

    http://www.stylefile.in

    • Hannah

      Elle is owned by Hearst who still have an internship program!

      • http://www.stylefile.in/ Dayle Pereira

        Thanks Hannah. Yes, I know that. It’s just sad seeing the Conde Nast internship programme end.

  • liv

    I actually interned at W in the same department during the same time…

  • alex

    sad, yes. but there are so many other amazing start-ups and publications that will take interns and EVEN treat them the way they SHOULD be treated.

    1) intern at a place where you’ll actually be appreciated.
    2) there are other ways to break into the industry. create something for gods sake. don’t just rely on a big name on your resume like every other mindless fashion girl.

  • Tayler

    The real question is, how are they going to get work done?! Interns to so much work. This means that HOPEFULLY they’ll be opening legitimate paid positions to take on that work. So, Yay!

    -Tayler

    http://www.styleinterplay.com

    …..

    • liv

      Let’s hope that is the outcome.

  • idlywriterly

    Maybe I’m a brat, but I just feel like there will ALWAYS be someone willing to NOT pay you to work for them. Even important people. I worked at a job for a little while where the unpaid interns were my age, and it was totally creepy to see that their work was just as valuable as mine, yet not compensated AT ALL. Jesus, at least pay for their gas or something.

  • Natalie Ast

    Maybe now those potential interns can get assistant or entry-level jobs and actually earn a fair wage, or perhaps Conde Nast will transition their intern program into co-op placements to give “interns” school credit. While the lost opportunity is unfortunate, maybe Conde Nast is setting the stage for change so that other large companies will follow suit and stop taking advantage of the free labour.

    • Amelia Diamond

      Condé always offered school credit. In fact you couldn’t intern there unless you were a student, I’m 99% sure. That’s the way it was when I was there.

  • Fer

    wow.

  • Former Intern

    Does this mean Condé Nast will hire freelance/assistants to fill the (many) voids left by unpaid interns?

    • Charlotte Fassler

      I would imagine this is where they are heading. I just wonder how the company will function without the help of all those interns!

      • Grace

        Will probably be cheaper to pay regular entry-level wages for a few staff members rather than big lawsuits for 2 or 3 every few years

  • Jmw

    I guess the blogger will be the next intern haunt. Are you hiring, Man Repeller?

  • Natalie

    What would the Hills have been without LC interning at Teen Vogue?! Watching her steam shirts and pick out flowers AND THEN go to Paris for the Crillon Ball was all I could ever dream about doing for an internship! AND the Teen Vogue Handbook (my mom got it for me when I was 16) said internships were our opportunity to prove ourselves and get our foot in the door!! All jokes aside, it is really sad to see such a promising program kicked to the curb. I think all of the budding young people who plan on investing their future careers in fashion really saw an internship at CN as the first step. I’m sad for us because we will never have that opportunity but there are so many other opportunities out there for us!

  • http://www.ellaetcetera.com/ Ella

    Nooo! So sad about this.
    I guess in college I’ll just have to intern at TMR instead (wink, wink).
    xx

  • Susannah

    I am a high school student and I have to make the big decision of what college I want to go to next year. From about four years old I’ve been interested in fashion. (I wanted to be a designer, though now I want to work for a fashion magazine.) After I heard the news about the end of internships at CN I couldn’t help but lose what little hope I had about my future. I’m basically starting from scratch now and I honestly have no idea what to do. And for the record, I would have worked for free, just to gain experience.

    • Grace

      don’t worry, there’s plenty of places out there who are ready to exploit you. Jokes aside, it’s a really good move for the industry and other places may follow which is good news for the people who can’t afford to work for free. Cut your teeth at one of the numerous firms out there, start your own thing like MR, broaden your horizons, CN is obviously good, but don’t let that deter you from seeing all the amazing opportunities out there.

  • Dee

    I found out this morning and I kid you not, threw a fit that would put 2 year olds everywhere to shame. I was beyond devastated. I was planning on applying this summer for the internship for winter of 2014.

    What will I do Amelia? What will I do?? All I wanted was to get coffee for ruthless editors who order ridiculous things like a caramel frappuccino – without the caramel.

    • Amelia Diamond

      You will all be FINE!!! CN is not the end-all-be-all. Something else wonderful will come your way.

      • Grace

        exactly my thoughts!! (see above, re susannah)

  • Quinn

    Amelia, you’re so quotable! “Gloria Gaynor have mercy on my soul because I will SURVIVE!”” “the line was longer than my long intestine” Can I get the rights to use them each once?

    • Amelia Diamond

      hahaha thank you! “long intestine” was birthed out of Leandra’s brain. or pooped out of it, in that scenario.

      • Quinn

        10 points for the digestive system!

      • Grace

        large intestine Leandraaaa! It is long though.

  • http://jessjoycej.wordpress.com/ Jessica Joyce

    This is a very awesome topic that just deals with every problem going on with college students. I guess it’s time that college students (such as myself) go ahead and just create our own internships.

    Your Friend, Jess

  • Alba B.

    Dear Amelia,
    I am glad to hear that you had a wonderful time during your internship and you survived, with all the positive subeffects you recived where is the place from where you are talking from.
    On my position, (experienced on being an intern) and considering the recession circumstances, I personally hate all the companies who employ interns for the simple fact that they want to reduce costs and are not willing to offer a job position afterwords. Therfore more of a Darwinism here looks to be Slavery. I think all young people offering their capabilites to the workforce shouldn’t be underpaid, because these young interns are human beings and they have their own dignity, which should not give the right to anyone to abuse on them, just with the simple excuse that they are interns…..
    As a conclusion what will the future be in twenty years? I personally don’t know but I know history and slavery was abolished long time ago, and I would not want to see it upon my children as much I don’t want to see again and again on me.

    abdsign.blogspot.com

  • guest

    I’m hoping to work for a Condé Nast magazine in the future so hearing about the program ending definitely dampened my day a little. Such a shame. This makes me feel better, though!

  • http://www.downtowngirluptownworld.com/ Kristen May

    The death of the Conde intern will stem a rebirth into something stronger and more powerful somehow. I’m not sure what, or if anyone can even conceive of what. But yes, you once hopefuls can thank current entitled youngster who destroyed it for everyone. Mentorship before payment. You won’t even be able to buy that kind of mentorship. GONE!!!

  • Filipa Leite

    Wow now my american dream is crushed!!
    No, just kidding, going to NY is a goal, I only feel sorry that there are no programs that support (financialy) people from Europe to intern in that industry. There are a lot of very competent people around here that never have the chance to intern in big companies like CN or Hearst.

    But, hey if you need an european correspondent, feel free to call me! eheh :D

  • Elliot Soriano

    They’ve been phasing out the interns for quite a while now. Be open minded, what you’ll come to learn is there isn’t a right or wrong way to go about getting a job at a magazine. There are plenty of relevant internships still with Hearst and independent magazines, pr firms, designers, model agencies, photographers and freelance stylists (why aim for one magazine on your résumé when you can aim for twenty?). Don’t underestimate the wide reaching span of the NY fashion network. The most unlikely person will open doors for you.