Tickled Pink by Olivia Williams

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

What do Caravaggio, Salman Rushdie, the British aeroplane industry and Belfast property development have in common? Well, they are all subjects of articles that I read and researched yesterday. This, for me, is the joy of the Books/House and Home internship here at the FT. One minute you’re reading Robin Lane Fox on keeping badgers out of the garden, the next you’re reading a review of a Spanish Civil War novel. Your work will mainly involve reading articles, checking them for style and factual content. As jobs go, reading about Sylt, which, for those who don’t know yet is Europe’s answer to Martha’s Vineyard, is a pretty pleasurable one. The reading material is wonderfully varied and you’ll become very well-informed about a myriad of topics. When you’re next trying to sound clever at a social gathering you can just launch into ‘Of course Caravaggio’s sense of inferiority, like Shakespeare’s, belongs to the dawn of religious scepticism and is nothing less than an existential exploration of whether we ever perceive or understand another human being’. You’ll sound very learned, as long as you rehearse sounding unrehearsed. For the intellectually curious, it’s a delightful internship.

Mobilising your charm over the telephone is another integral part of your work here. I have spent this morning trying to convince the CEO of John Deere over in Illinois, or rather the CEO’s ‘people’, to allow cameras into his house to photograph his favourite, very expensive, possessions. The saga continues…

Unusually for high-powered, busy people, the staff here are very friendly and are sure to take good care of you. I had only been sitting at my desk for a few hours on my first day when I was plied with Percy Pigs, Jammie Dodgers, ambrosial home-made brownies and tea. Everyone around me checked to see that I was happy on a regular basis. On Friday we’re going to be having a cupcake-tasting session. Although the atmosphere is buzzy and fast-paced, you won’t be dazed and confused and you certainly won’t go hungry.

I have done a fair few internships and placements in my time and I can assure you that, unlike many companies, here you will not be left to languish in a corner, nor will you spend the entire afternoon slaving over a hot photocopier counting the minutes until you can go home. Too often interns are just used as a free courier, barista or envelope-stuffer, but here you will actually get to use your brain. There is a great deal of current pessimism about journalism and its future, allow this place to remind you why you are persevering.


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