My Life As An Intern At A Failed Startup, pt 2

There’s a specific moment in any new job or situation when the honeymoon officially “ends” and for me it happened when we started doing group pitches. I remember being quite excited about this at first. In theory, pitches sounded like a really good idea. A chance for me to prove I had ideas, that I could truly contribute to the company, so to speak. When I found out that they had scheduled them for Wednesdays (my class time), I was bummed but I gave them my ideas anyway. I’d skip classes next week and make sure I was there to be heard and to give my ideas.

Well, that second week turned out to be something special, alright. I entered the office first thing in the morning, and felt the nervous excitement of everyone around me. A few people were running back and forth between their computers and the printer, making sure they had enough copies of their scripts to go around.

“Scripts?” I asked no one in particular as I went to find my desk. When I got to the place where I usually sit, I found someone sitting there, typing away at the keyboard. Not one to make or want a scene I simply chilled around the office.  At first I wandered around the little island of computers in the middle of the office, and then I moved over to the animators and chatted with them for a bit, awkwardly seeing what was up and making sure to get enough “drool time” in regards to the Cintiq. I moved along and eventually found myself back near my station. One of the guys looked up from his computer and gave a double take.

“Oh, um,” he said. “We’ll figure out something for you to do after the pitches.” I nodded, and repressed a little unease. I sat down at the computer desk which would eventually become my main station in the final months of working there and made light chit-chat with Caitlin, who I hadn’t talked to much before then.

One of the guys finished printing his copies early and started stapling them together. Thinking fast, I took over his station and printed my ideas out for the pitch. There weren’t many of them (much like the ones I had handed in the week before) so the process ended just as quickly as it had started. I certainly didn’t have any scripts prepared, a fact which stayed with me until the meeting started. Had I missed something here? Was I supposed to have written a script? As everyone gathered into the room, I tried to rack my brain to see if I had blatantly missed what had been said to me a week before, or if something had been said to me a week before.

Um, nope.

I hadn’t missed anything.

Hmm. Weird.

I guess they had spent some time on these ideas. An emotion not unlike awe and respect crept up on me. I thought, (and I cringe at this nowadays) “My god, these guys are real writers. This is what it’s all about.” Suddenly, my puny little education at Columbia College felt small time. Here I was going to school to learn how to one day write an amazing script, and these guys were actually writing these on a week to week basis.

These feelings of awe and respect went away within the first ten minutes of the pitch session. By the end of it all, I felt sick to my stomach. What had happened certainly wasn’t a pitch session in any traditional sense. The guys with the scripts passed theirs around and we read them one by one and voted. Only one person talked about each story, with the writers of the ideas pitching in every now and then to correct or try and win everyone’s vote. As it turned out, my ideas were panned on account of not being fully fleshed out.

“There’s just not enough here,” at least one person mentioned. Another gave me a look, which I took to be that of condescension. I had seen it before in my previous internship from the regular, full time staff, so I picked up on it almost instantly. It’s that look of “Oh, you’re new at this. It’s okay. We appreciate your help.” Oddly enough, it’s not that dissimilar of a look to the one you get when you tell a real bomb of a joke at a party before anyone starts drinking.

The scripts that made it through the pitch session weren’t all that great. I remember stepping out of that room feeling a mix of agitation, confusion, irritation wish just a dash of embarrassment. Didn’t I just consider these guys writers not an hour or so ago? Hadn’t I been ready to discount my education completely because they had printed out scripts? Now that I think about it, I was probably more embarrassed than anything else.

A sirloin steak with a giant penis?

Really?

This was going to get us our hits?

“What the fuck is this place?” I remember whispering to myself at the end of my shift.

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