Episode 54: Worst Advice
Published June 10, 2016.
Aminatou: Welcome to Call Your Girlfriend.
Ann: A podcast for long-distance besties everywhere.
Aminatou: I'm Aminatou Sow.
Ann: And I'm Ann Friedman.
Aminatou: So much to catch up on this week on Call Your Girlfriend. We discuss Hillary Clinton's historic nomination, bros getting setup on mandates, moving versus belonging, that incredible period ad with the real blood in it that you all have been sending us, and we answer a listener question about internships.
Aminatou: Hi Ann Friedman.
Ann: I'm coming to you live from a Quality Inn in rural Missouri.
Aminatou: Man, that's like the opposite of my life right now. What's in rural Missouri?
Ann: Well let me tell you, I had a coconut kale smoothie yesterday. Well, there are obviously lots of different lifestyle things like living your life in a middle of nowhere kind of place. But the real thing is deprogramming everything I've gotten used to using the Internet for, like I had to call a cab company today and I was like what?
Aminatou: That's exciting.
Ann: I'm kind of out of the news loop, but yeah, I don't know. Clearly you are the opposite. You are in it.
Aminatou: I'm in it. I was working on this big tech conference for the last couple months and that happened last week then I decided to stick around L.A. for a little bit so I had a couple of days of deprogramming. I never spent any considerable amount of time in Venice and that's where I stayed and I'm in love with Venice. It was great.
Aminatou: It's like everything -- I loved everything about it. It's like people would stop by and say hello and there's this weird fog that just moved in so it felt like being in San Francisco which was hilarious. People were not prepared for it. I hung out with some really good friends.
Ann: Westside L.A., very misty.
Aminatou: Westside L.A. is very weird. It's like very, very weird but I really appreciated it. So shout out to Venice and all of the gentrification that's happening over there.
Ann: I mean happened past tense, right? It's like way over that hump.
Aminatou: No, it's like happening even more though because all of the big tech campuses are expanding and Santa Monica is like we are not taking in more people. So it was really interesting looking at price listings. It's like I'm obsessed with the Red Fin (?) app right now and everywhere I go I just pull it up and I'm like location, how much does everybody's house cost? And yeah, Venice is very strange. But yeah, all of my tech homies live over there so it's perfect.
Ann: Oh my god, okay, so I've been out of the news cycle but I'm not so out of it that I didn't hear about Hillary. That's what I'm saying. [Laughs]
Aminatou: Oh, you mean that you heard about Hillary in rural Missouri also? I'm so glad you guys have got cable news over there. Yeah, no, like big news. That's exciting.
Ann: Are you excited? I feel like I kind of thought that this was going to happen anyways so I was not as excited as I thought.
Aminatou: I was very excited. I watched it with two of my friends' little kids, a boy and a girl, five and four, and it was really interesting to watch it through their own eyes. You know, at one point it's ugh, this is kind of boring, then all of the questions they asked about it which is cool. And I was like you know, in your lifetime the possibilities of things that are achievable by women is so much more vast than was true for me when I was their age and I thought that was really cool. I don't know. I thought that her speech was incredible also. Definitely got some full-body chills. And the video they showed before was 100% feminist. Not corporate feminist, like oh, women and gender studies feminist. It was great.
Ann: I'm so happy that she is fully in on that historic narrative this time.
Aminatou: I know. There was a whole thing about Shirley Chisolm in the video and that got me very emotional. You know, it's like the modern Democratic Party really owes so much to Shirley Chisolm and she doesn't get enough props and so it was really cool to see her elevated to that level. I'm mostly just like ugh, why don't we do this like other countries? Like two months, get in and out of it. But the nomination was very important.
Ann: It's a milestone for sure but given how many months we have to go I'm just dreading the roller coaster.
Aminatou: Yeah, it's going to be interesting.
Ann: It has been really interesting watching how people on all sides of the Democratic primary reacted, like just in a social media observation kind of way. Like the first signs of which friends were Bernie supporters are eagerly coming around versus who is sort of reluctantly coming around versus who is upset. There's also been a lot of -- and this is totally anecdotal, just me -- a lot of people who I would not call closet Hillary supporters by any stretch but who were quieter on social media about Hillary like piping up.
Aminatou: Yeah, Michelle Goldberg actually wrote a really good thing about this during the . . . I was going to say the Brooklyn primary. The New York primary. [Laughs] But she lives in Brooklyn, so it was relevant. But about how she really thought Hillary was going to lose because all the most vocal people in Brooklyn were Bernie supporters and you didn't see nary a yard sign for Hillary. I felt the same way when I was in L.A. honestly and even here in San Francisco and it was funny to see that she carried San Francisco by such a healthy margin. I was like the only Hillary SWAG I've seen in my entire neighborhood is my own. Then I went and looked at the precinct and I was like this is very interesting.
Ann: Do you think that some of that is by the time we got to the California primary not everyone who supports Bernie but a good portion of those people are like this is -- I want to ideologically align myself with Bernie and it's more important to do that publicly because my vote is essentially for a candidate who's not going to be nominated? Like I do think it's more important when you're supporting a candidate who's probably not going to win.
Aminatou: No, my analysis is that people are cowards and they don't say what they think and they are very quiet. And to be fair I understand why it was not cool or whatever to be perceived as a Hillary fan. Definitely among young people that's true. And it's like now that she's clenched the nomination people are coming out of the woodwork. This definitely happened in the volunteer office that I go to where all these people just walked in and they're like "Okay, we're ready now." And I was like where were you four weeks ago?
Ann: I think it's totally acceptable to be ready once someone is the de facto nominee, like once someone has clenched the nomination, to decide that you're ready then.
Aminatou: Oh no, I think that it's fair but I think that it's interesting that for a lot of these people they're saying oh, we've always supported her but I didn't feel comfortable voicing my support for her until right now.
Aminatou: And so when it is politically and socially safe to. I understand that I'm throwing shade but at the same time I'm like eh, it's not the end of the world.
Ann: I mean one reason why I probably noticed the difference in Bernie supporters' public reactions is because I'm super curious about the next couple of weeks and what people who wanted to see him nominated do in terms of whether they stay engaged or not.
Aminatou: Yeah. I mean I guess we'll see, right? There's already a lot of anger. A lot of women reporters on the campaign trail have been noting that they've been getting an influx of angry emails or threatening phone calls.
Ann: Because they supposedly didn't cover Bernie fairly?
Aminatou: Yes. You know, it's like angry people are going to be angry and I think that they were looking for something to be angry at for a long time. And also it's not lost on me just the amount of vitriol that people throw at women in particular for wanting the same outsizing ambitions as men. So I guess we'll see. We'll see where it goes from now, right?
Ann: Yeah. I'm just so ready for the next phase.
Aminatou: Yeah, I'm over it. It's like election 2016. I'm so over it.
Ann: A.k.a. not ready for the next phase or just get it over with?
Aminatou: No, just get it over with. Just get it over with. It's like we still have weeks to go to the conventions and then at the convention we're going to choose people then we're going to have all this bitter infighting until November. I'm like this has already been going on for a year. I remember when Bernie announced that he was running. That was over a year ago. That's how long we've been in the day-to-day of this thing, and so it's just really . . . it's like ugh, just get it over already.
Ann: I know. Who is going to step up to really shorten the length of elections? It's just never going to happen is it?
Aminatou: Bernie should. Bernie really should. I was like you have complained so much about our electoral system, sir. I agree with you but you've got to show me that you care about this stuff outside of when it's directly affecting you.
Ann: Yeah, I mean . . . [Sighs] Being out of town right now I am very curious to go back to my neighborhood and see if all the Bernie signage and stuff is still up.
Aminatou: It's going to be up until the convention, Ann. All the way.
Aminatou: My favorite thing though is Bernie last night said -- I stayed up very late to watch his speech and he said the struggle continues. And I was like this means such different things to like . . .
Ann: To different people? Yeah.
Aminatou: To an old white man revolutionary than it does to me, a hip, young sister. [Laughs] And then I got the email today that was like the struggle continues and I was like yes, that's definitely how it feels.
Ann: Although I have to say California primary and Bernie in L.A. made me laugh at a Bernie/Hillary meme for the first time. Did you see this one?
Aminatou: You know I don't like laughing at that meme because it's low-key sexist but I understand the hyper . . .
Ann: This is what I'm saying. You know, there's something about when you see a meme flying around and it just hits so geographically close to home that I couldn't help it.
Aminatou: You know, some big news out of California though, Kamala Harris won her race which is very exciting.
Ann: I'm so excited all of these women I voted for in the primary . . . yes, very exciting.
Aminatou: I know! Kamala Harris, one step closer to being the next black woman senator and so that's kind of exciting.
Ann: Very exciting. Also just keeping up a really good California track record of electing women to senate, hopefully.
Aminatou: Yeah. Hopefully -- yeah. So I don't know, I'm hopefully cautious about that race. Kamala Harris is great and I hope she goes all the way.
Ann: Yeah, this was like my first time voting in a primary that mattered. I have to say it was really cool.
Aminatou: Oh man, that's exciting.
Ann: I know. It's shocking that you can make it through how many years as a voter and only get to that if . . . if you're in your 30s, it's like wow.
Aminatou: Okay, awesome. See you next week! Washington, D.C. primary.
Ann: See you next Tuesday. Oh my god.
Aminatou: Oh my god, see you next Tuesday. That's essentially what Bernie said. It was so funny. Oh my god.
Aminatou: Oh man, in huge political personal news I met Kim Kardashian. Hello.
Ann: Okay, I'm going to need all of the details.
Aminatou: Kim is great, Ann. I like lost my mind. She was wearing an orange Pablo shirt because it was gun violence awareness day. I wish that I had remembered that and worn orange. I was wearing a beautiful pink linen suit, pat on the back for me. We talk a lot about celebrities on this podcast. We know some of them. But Kim to me is like next-level, and so it took everything I had not to cry and not embarrass everybody else that was there. She was very nice. She clearly listens to the entire Internet and knows what's going on. She's beautiful. She talked about Kanye and Nori and Saint and, yeah, it's like before this I was full-fledged Kardashian fan and now it's going to be obnoxious from here on out.
Ann: Was there a single thing that surprised you about meeting her IRL versus seeing her everywhere?
Aminatou: You know this is a question that everybody's asked me. I could not believe how tiny she was. I couldn't believe how tiny she was for all of the hullabaloo that the media makes about her size all of the time. That was very surprising to me. I was like whoa. It's like I get it, right? It's like all these camera angles or whatever and they've turned her into this curvaceous bombshell, blah, blah, blah. And it's like no, she's a very healthy small woman. I don't know. This was not surprising to me but it was just really cool to hear her be really confident and really stand her ground on a lot of things that people push back on her for like her naked pictures and things like that. Seeing her also in business mode, that was really fascinating.
Ann: Oh man.
Aminatou: Yeah, no, Kim Kardashian for life. I'm telling you.
Ann: How much time did you get with her?
Aminatou: Like over an hour.
Ann: Oh my god, stop.
Aminatou: Yeah. She was so, so, so great. She's actually on the Recode podcast with Kara Swisher this week that you can listen to some of that and it's really cool. But it was really . . . it was just fascinating to hear, you know, Kim Kardashian: my side. [Laughs] Like this is how this works, because everybody has opinions about her. But I can tell you, I hate when people say this about famous people that they meet but it's true. She's so nice. She's so nice and she's so smart and she's so pretty and she's so gracious. It was amazing.
Ann: So did you ask her to come on CYG? [Laughs]
Aminatou: I mean stay tuned. Stay tuned. [Laughs] I really want her to come on CYG. Kim, if you're listening, you know my heart. Please come on.
Ann: Your heart and your number.
Aminatou: Oh my god, for reals. For reals. So good. No, Kim K for . . . I can't even tell you. It was a very beautiful moment for me.
Aminatou: I'm glad that now we can say friend-of-the-podcast Kim Kardashian.
Aminatou: Really that was my number one goal out of all of this.
Ann: The number one goal is to not be able to discuss any news or political event without prefacing every name with friend-of-the-podcast.
Aminatou: Yeah, friend-of-the-podcast Hillary Clinton, friend-of-the-podcast Kim Kardashian. You know, and hopefully one day friend-of-the-podcast Bernie Sanders.
Ann: I mean we're healing here.
Aminatou: I know. You know what? Friend-of-the-podcast Jane Sanders. What's up?
Ann: I mean, so interested.
Aminatou: Okay, which other friends of the podcast are up to cool stuff?
Ann: I don't know. I think . . .
Aminatou: Oh, I was going to tell you friend-of-the-podcast Neil Drumming who works at This American Life did this incredible episode this week. Neil is the one, if you're a regular listener of This American Life, who a couple of weeks ago interviewed his bestie Ta-Nehisi Coates, also friend-of-the-podcast. LOL.
Ann: That interview was so good, so interesting.
Aminatou: Right, and talked about like, you know, like what do you do when you and your friend are kind of not in the same professional stratosphere anymore? And it was really fascinating to listen to it, especially just knowing what awesome dudes both of them are. And so on this particular episode which oh my god, This American Life, man, very few duds but this one is great, Neil sets up and talks about the difficulty of making friends, especially if you're an older man. Older. If you're a man who is in his 30s or 40s. And he sets up two men on a man date and it is the most fascinating thing to listen to. Like I was so nervous for everybody involved. It's great.
Ann: Okay, so I'm curious if there is . . . if this is just something -- because I haven't heard the episode -- if he's just interested, because I thought this had the New York Times trend story moment like years ago and I'm curious if there's some reason why he's doing it again now.
Aminatou: Yeah, the whole episode was called The Perils of Intimacy and it's just about the kinds of relationships that we pursue. But he contextualized it in the sense that he himself, Neil, is not great at following up and making friends. He's kind of already made all the friends he needed to. And now it's like if you're in a new town and you need new friends how does that work? So I think that was more the context of it. And these two men had both just recently moved to Austin and were both looking for friends. But it's like they're married. There's kids. Do we like the same comic books? How does that work? And yeah, it was very interesting.
Ann: Well it's interesting because, you know, I was thinking about this because I downloaded that app that's supposed to be for women to make women friends. And I was just curious about like . . .
Aminatou: You mean Twitter? There's an app for this?
Ann: Stop. It's called Hey Vina.
Aminatou: I know. I've heard of this. Tell me, does it work? Have you made new friends?
Ann: Listen, I was more just curious about how it's setup because my point-of-view about friendships -- and, you know, to a certain extent this is the same as with dating -- but even if you like the same stuff that does not guarantee that you're going to get along as friends. There's some kind of X factor alchemy thing that has to do with sense of humor and what's your speed together? Then the app will ask questions about what time of day you like to hang out or what kind of stuff you're interested in doing. Are you an outdoor or indoor kid? Which like fair. Fair enough. Those all seem kind of relevant. But I don't know that I could even answer those questions for people who are my close friends. It seems difficult to try to distill it into a set of checkboxes like that. But one thing I do think is a really good tell of whether you can establish a new friendship with someone is where you're at socially and in your life right now. So two people who are both new in town and don't know anyone, that seems to me like a good match because they're both looking to invest in new people whereas a lot of times if you meet someone when you're at a really busy or kind of feeling full point in your life it's like you're just not going to be able to make the room that they're able to make.
Aminatou: I think that this is true, especially when you move into your 30s, right? And I really felt this with the bros on the show. It's like you have a wife. You have kids. And your life is very set. It's just like logistically there's not a lot of time for you to make for new people, you know, without taking away from other parts of your life. And I think that that's also part of the challenge, right?
Because this happens to me. I'll meet people and I'm just like I don't know. These people are about to get married or they have kids. You know, I t's like the schedule incompatibility is real. It's not every day that you're willing to just compromise, like both people are willing to compromise their schedules and the fullness of your life to let somebody else in. And also people just make friends in different ways, you know? Some people are very content with just hanging out every once in a while and prolonged text messages and some people need activities. And that's all stuff that you figure out together and it's really tough. One thing that I thought they did that was brave was Neil set them up on a movie date which I personally don't think a movie is the way you get to know someone because it's like you're spending all this time together but you're not talking. Oh, man, I'm totally outing myself. It's like unless you're a very good friend, if I don't particularly want to spend quality time with you, a movie is what I'm suggesting.
Ann: So did they hang out after the movie too?
Aminatou: Yeah, they hung out after the movie too.
Ann: Because I think that for some people that's actually a really good suggestion because you have a thing to talk about. Like if there's nothing else in common you can talk about the movie and that's why people default to it.
Aminatou: I know, but it's risky. What if you hate the movie? And then that's a value judgment on who picked the movie. But again . . .
Ann: But pretty low-stakes. I mean how many people who are great, compatible friends with you do you disagree on movies?
Aminatou: It's now low-stakes when a podcast sets you up to be friends and you're supposed to follow up. [Laughs]
Ann: The movie date in general as a low-stakes thing I think is real.
Aminatou: Totally low-stakes, but I'm like you know what? Those two hours you could've spent talking about other stuff and getting to know each other.
Ann: It's true. There obviously is the stereotype that men are worse at that than women but I think some men are actually pretty decent at it and some women are pretty terrible at it in terms of just being proactive about making new friends when you're at a place where you want or need them.
Aminatou: Yeah. I don't have for real, concrete numbers on this so I'm not going to state this with authority but I do think it's fair to say that, you know, women generally tend and befriend. That's how we get through. But yeah, you should listen to it. I'm curious to hear what you think. Also I think on another level I just really appreciate men getting vulnerable. I'm like the bar is so low but this was very delightful.
Ann: Oh my god, yeah. Any kind of male support -- like platonic male support for each other I'm all about. [Laughs]
Aminatou: Yeah. Also you should listen to this episode of This American Life in general because the opening story -- act one -- so insane, Ann. It's about this woman who is dating someone who's basically robbing her and she just still . . . she's like maybe it'll change. It's so crazy. It's so insane.
Ann: Robbing her?
Aminatou: I kind of like spoiled it for you but it doesn't matter. It's like she's dating this guy and all her money is missing all the time and she's like where could the money be? There's only two of us in this apartment. But legit somebody stole her identity. It's like stole her identity, is cashing in her checks, that kind of stuff. And then even when she finds out it's him she still kind of sticks around.
Ann: I mean there's another -- that reminds me of another, I think it's also This American Life, the interview with the scammer, the sweetheart scammer, who long-distance swindles women.
Ann: And the interviewer is asking what effect running this scam has had on the guy's personal life. And he's basically like it made me a lot better boyfriend/partner/etc.
Aminatou: Yeah, was that This American Life or some other podcast thing? But I know exactly what you're talking about.
Aminatou: It's like very . . . yeah, the perils of intimacy. Just listen to it. It's insane.
Ann: Okay. I mean intimacy is insane.
Aminatou: Yeah, I don't know why we trust each other or become friends or date. It's crazy. Everybody just be your own island.
Ann: Oh my god, worst advice.
Aminatou: Worst advice, but you know what? Best advice.
Ann: [Laughs] Worst advice, a new segment on this podcast.
Aminatou: Oh my god, worst advice, best advice. Sold.
Ann: And what happens when they're the same thing.
Aminatou: Oh my god, they are the same thing. Guard your heart.
[Music and Ads]
Ann: Lots of people have tweeted at us that there is finally a menstruation-related ad or period products ad that features actual human blood. [Laughs]
Aminatou: It's really good. I like it. It's like very badass.
Ann: It's very intense.
Aminatou: Yeah, like periods.
Ann: I know. I don't have too much more to say about it except I was ready for it and it's here.
Aminatou: I know, it's great. But it always makes me laugh that good period ads -- I'm making the biggest air quotes -- are always contextualized in sports, you know? And I'm just like where is the period ad of someone who's just lying there bleeding furiously?
Ann: Or the woman who's in a meeting and manages not to make a face after she passes a clot.
Aminatou: Exactly, right? You don't need to be playing rugby and having your period to be the most badass woman in the room. It's like please, the fact that we even get out of bed with this conundrum is just baffling to me.
Ann: It's true.
Aminatou: But yeah. So, you know, that's my one observation about it. But the ad is really cool. I liked it a lot.
Ann: It's sort of Game of Thronesy. [Laughs]
Aminatou: Yeah, you know, I also didn't know -- I went down this rabbit hole of period ads. Period ads didn't even say the word period until that 1985 Courtney Cox Tampax ad. That's the first time they say the word period.
Ann: I don't know if I'm familiar with that ad.
Courtney: Do you change your life for one week because of that time of the month? Still using ads? Then let me tell it to you straight. Tampax can change the way you feel about that time. Tampax Tampons protect differently than a pad so you feel cleaner, and feeling cleaner is more comfortable. Plus more women use Tampax than any other tampon or pad. Now that's something. Remember there's a feeling with Tampax. It can actually change the way you feel about your period.
Aminatou: But that was like the first time that they were like period. That hadn't even occurred to me.
Ann: [Laughs] Like that's the name for the thing that's happening that we're talking about.
Aminatou: Yeah, that's the name of the thing. It's like banish them so their periods . . .
Ann: And before that it was just like your time of the month, which is such a funny turn of phrase actually now that I say it out loud. It's like if there's any time of the month that's my time of the month it's not when I'm menstruating.
Aminatou: It's definitely not these days, let me tell you about it. So crazy. That's so funny. Okay, what else is going on?
Ann: I have more Harvard Business Review articles from multiple years ago.
Aminatou: I'm so happy for you. This is great.
Ann: Listen, I have to say, it's one of those things where I go looking for something else and then find something and it's three years old but I'm finding it at the right time for me.
Aminatou: Listen, you know I love HBR. Also the HBR Idea cast, listen to it. It's great. There's some rad ladies that work there.
Ann: Yeah, I mean . . .
Aminatou: Friends of the podcast. [Laughs]
Ann: Oh my god, I was waiting for you to say it. But yeah, this one is about essentially people who move around a lot in their adult lives and so they don't really feel connected to the place where they're from as home in the same way anymore but also are clearly . . . it's difficult to consider a place where you've only lived for a few years or where you might be temporary as home in the same way too. It doesn't really draw lots of deep conclusions. It just kind of explores that question a little bit. And it's something that . . . I don't know, it's something that I've been thinking about, and you're a woman who's moved around a lot. Do you have any . . . do you struggle with that?
Aminatou: I mean I think I'm over that struggle. There's nowhere that I consider home, right? It's like I've lived in multiple cities in multiple countries my whole life. The one thing -- I think if I remember this article right this is the one where the woman is from Europe, right? And she's like . . .
Ann: I believe it's a dude, but anyway, yeah.
Aminatou: Yeah. Everybody's a woman. Yeah, yeah, okay. He's Italian, perfect. Or Swiss. That's the one thing I related to in this article. It's like if you ask me where I'm from, depending on how much time I want to spend with you, I will give you one version of things, you know?
Ann: Right. Then there's an interesting . . .
Aminatou: Then you expand the circle out that way. But yeah, there are a lot of people who live like this and most of them are international. I was very shocked when I went to college, and granted I went to a state school, but still, that people were living close to home or they had never left their state. That's something to me that will always be very American, like people who just don't go places. Then it's interesting to see it now in the context of like very real trends, like the economy cratering when I graduated college or what it's meant in general for the economy that Americans are not mobile people.
Ann: Yeah. I mean and one of the things I appreciated about this article is it acknowledges that a life of moving around is usually associated with pretty extreme economic privilege. Like if you've lived in only one place your whole life the odds are pretty good that your family didn't have a lot of money to move, especially if it's a place without great jobs.
Aminatou: You know, I mean I think that that's true in some western contexts. It's not true for African people.
Ann: Yeah, I guess I was speaking more to people you would've met at college for example.
Aminatou: Yeah, fair enough.
Ann: Yeah. And again not totally. I mean one of the other things that this article points out is that for a lot of people moving around and living different places is a value that not everybody shares. And I think that's kind of true. Like that's certainly true of me and a lot of people that I know that there wasn't just like an imperative to leave the place where you grew up for economic reasons or for stuff related to your career, but this sense of wanting to experience living somewhere else.
Aminatou: Yeah, no. Honestly that's a huge value for me and for people who are close to me. Just having this -- you know, the physical and emotional presence to do that is really, really important.
Ann: Yeah. Anyway, so I don't know. And it is true that there are different versions of how do you answer the where are you from question. There should be a name . . . I mean I definitely know enough people in my life who were raised as military kids or something like that, or maybe they just moved around for some other reason, where when you say "Where'd you grow up?" they're like . . . that's typically what they say. It's just like "Oh, lots of places." But I feel like there should be a term for that life experience of there's not a place that is home.
Aminatou: Yeah, it's called third-culture kids. TCKs.
Ann: Third-culture kids applies to let's say I'm a US military kid who's lived all around America but never abroad?
Aminatou: Well most military kids will live abroad at some point.
Ann: Really? That's not true. So anyway I was always under the impression that the term third-culture kids refer to an international experience whereas I do know a lot of people who lived a lot of places in America but not internationally that this applies to.
Aminatou: That's fair.
Ann: Do you want to take a listener question?
Ann: Great. Hit me.
Aminatou: "I have a question for you two that I'm honestly not sure if you've talked about or not. Wouldn't be surprised if you already have, but whatevs." [Laughs] "I was wondering if you have any strong opinions about internships." Ugh. "I understand that their purpose is to give young professionals experience in the field but right now I'm two years out from graduating from college and really I still don't know what I want to end up doing ultimately but I love the company I work for. The problem at this point I'll admit -- what I think is kind of a shameful fact -- is I'm finishing my third six-month paid internship with this company and there doesn't seem to be any interest in keeping me on and no help from anyone who I've networked with to get me to stay in some kind of permanent capacity. Hearing over and over about how much they'd love to keep me on and from coworkers that they want me to say, but every six months not being sure if I have a job or not is becoming infuriating. It's looking like I'm going to have to search for opportunities outside the company but it's so heartbreaking to realize that I've worked so hard for a cumulative year-and-a-half and there's no support from anyone who I felt got along really well with me and appreciated my work."
"It kind of feels like a really bad relationship that I have with my workplace and it's probably not a great situation to be in either way. This might be a really long-winded question that maybe is a very specific problem, but just wondering maybe what your general thoughts about internships are and how you would recommend handling to try to start your career from there. I feel like I've done everything that people told you to do. I worked hard, I networked, I talked to people, I was nice, etc., but I feel like I'm going to walk away from this wishing I had done more but I don't really know what more I could've done." Okay. I'm trying to understand this because she's still in college, right? I'm two years out from graduating college. So she's a sophomore?
Ann: Yes. Unless she means I graduated two years ago.
Aminatou: Oh, you're right. I'm two years out from graduating college. Fair enough. Fair enough.
Aminatou: Okay, I was understanding this wrong. You're right.
Ann: Yeah. She doesn't say whether she's applying for other jobs.
Aminatou: Well she's saying that now she's going to start looking for opportunities outside the company, because I think her goal was from this email if I'm reading it correctly that she would intern there a bunch and then they would transition her into a full-time position.
Ann: Right, and instead they're exploiting her underpaid labor.
Aminatou: Yeah. Because she says -- yeah, she says her internship is paid, which hallelujah, so few internships are paid which should be illegal and I think kind of is now, right?
Ann: Yes. I mean depending on the particular details. But frequently yes, not legal to have unpaid interns.
Aminatou: Yeah, not cool. I mean I have strong opinions about internships. I think that one, they should be paid. I think they should also teach you a real skill. I really hate the go-for type internships where they don't like -- you know, you're just there essentially to fetch coffee. That stuff infuriates me so much. And I do think that it should either lay a path for permanent employment or be very clear about the fact that that's not going to happen.
Ann: Right. And the fact that his is a sort of the worst of all worlds, which is the appearance of a path where they don't seem to intend to follow through on it is pretty upsetting.
Aminatou: Yeah. I'm really sorry to this lady. It really sucks. It's like you're working hard. You're doing all the things you need to be doing. But I will also say this: very few people your age are still at that first company that they started at or even work in the field that they thought they were going to be working in. So not to be like this person, you know? [Laughs] But I do think that there is something about not putting all of your eggs in your first job basket for sure.
Ann: Well then also statistically the way you end up making more money and you get title boosts is you move from job to job. So let's say you did want to stay there, I mean putting in years at a place really early in your career in this day and age does not work in your favor.
Aminatou: Yeah. Also, listen, a year-and-a-half of interning, that does not help anyone. It's like that place is definitely exploiting you, you know what I mean?
Ann: And look, I think it's one of those things too where the answer is definitely be looking for and applying for jobs that pay you and treat you like a full employee. And if you get a job offer from somewhere else you can go back to this place if you really believe it's the best place for you and say "Hey, I have a full-time employment offer somewhere else. I have to take it because I'm not a full unless you can offer me something comparable."
Aminatou: Totally. It's like it's really hard to negotiate when you don't have any kind of leverage.
Ann: Right. You need to get yourself a lever and push it.
Aminatou: Yeah, you need leverage and you need perspective, right? Because I completely understand the heartbreak of it, you know, when you just like pour yourself into a place. But I think that there's also things to remember, right? The number one way that your job shows you that they care about you -- it doesn't matter what they say -- is by how much they pay you and how they promote you and they further your career. And if this place is not doing that for you, everything else is lip service.
Ann: Totally. It's like, you know, she even says it's starting to feel like a bad relationship and it's sort of textbook bad relationship, right? Which is I say the right things then with my behavior I actually undermine you.
Aminatou: Exactly. So, you know, it's like I get it. The job market is really hard. Even just getting a paid internship honestly feels like clawing your way out of just the other situation you're in. But I think it's worth just looking out and getting a little bit of perspective on what you -- eventually what you want to do with your life, you know? And I don't think that . . . none of us have that answer, this like what am I going to do when I grow up? But, you know, I'm also no fool and going to work a year-and-a-half for somebody who doesn't treat me right.
Ann: Yeah. And also you probably got some good information from that year-and-a-half of like okay, if I stay in this field this is the type of stuff I think I would be good at, either because you've tried it as an intern or because you've been able to observe your coworkers doing it. And if they really do care about you the way they say they do people at this job will be references for you. That's the least you can do for someone whose labor you've exploited for a year-and-a-half.
Aminatou: No, totally. It's like be a good reference for them and just expand your horizons. So good luck listener. Let us know how it goes.
Ann: We want you paid.
Aminatou: I know. Get paid. Get paid. You can find us many places on the Internet, on our website callyourgirlfriend.com, you can download us anywhere you listen to your favorite podcasts, or on iTunes where we would love it if you left us a review. You can tweet at us at @callyrgf or even email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also find us on Facebook -- you can look that link up yourself -- or on Instagram at callyrgf. You can even leave us a short and sweet voicemail at 714-681-2943. That's 714-681-CYGF. This podcast is produced by Gina Delvac. I'm going to go rewatch the season premiere of Unreal because it was crazy and I hope you have a great day in Missouri.
Ann: Oh my god, and I will see you on the Internet.
Aminatou: I'll see you on the Internet. Bye, lady.