This Letter was featured on the Freshly Pressed homepage as one of the best posts on the WordPress network.
Dear me at 19:
So you’ve decided that you love books.
You love books so much that you want a job helping people make them. You want to work in publishing.
Somehow, through the luck of the draw and the pulling of some strings you manage to land a sought-after internship at a small press. You are pretty sure that you have found your life’s calling.
So you make the most logical next step. You decide to quit.
How does that make any sense?
Okay, alright. To be fair, you don’t quit immediately. You work there for a few months. At first, you just cut back your hours a little. Then a little bit more. Then you start calling in sick for your remaining shifts. Then you decide to send them an email resignation.
I’m writing you this letter to say: DON’T QUIT! DON’T DO IT! For the love of God and all things holy, buck up, act like an adult and keep your job.
Granted, when you began working there, you had a slightly different idea of what your job might entail. Maybe you didn’t quite understand the term “intern”. When you showed up wearing your first ever “Business Suit”, you were somewhat surprised to find yourself running errands, filing rejection manuscripts and licking envelopes. You proceeded to get up on your high horse so quickly that you practically gave yourself a literary wedgie.
“I’m not here to make photocopies,” you thought. “If I wanted a job filing papers, I would have gotten a job as a secretary. At least I’d be getting paid.”
Here’s the thing about internships: The actual job sucks. And you do it for free.
Because it’s not the job that matters. It’s the people you meet. It’s the time you put in. It’s what you learn. And most importantly, it’s what you’re able to put on your resume when you leave.
The small press you’re working at may not be a Knopf or a HarperCollins. They may not make a lot of money, and they may not have a big shiny office in a tall building downtown. But they run their business like any other in the publishing world. Their processes are exactly the same, but on a much smaller scale. And they know people. Lots and lots of people.
If you stick this one out, it could lead to something much, much bigger. It could lead to a Knopf or a HarperCollins. It could lead to a big shiny office downtown. It could lead to a job where you are the one hiring an intern, to fill in the holes for the much more important work that you are doing.
Most importantly, you made the owners a promise. You promised that you would work with them. You promised that you would work hard. You promised that you would be excited to learn. These are women that are kind and understanding and who love their business like it’s their baby. If you stick with this job, you’ll be keeping your promise. You won’t be letting them down. You won’t make them feel silly for believing in you.
But instead, you choose to flake out. You choose to take the easy route. You choose to break up with them in an email.
Honey, let me fill you in on something: Life is about work. Everything is work. Jobs are work. Relationships are work. Family is work. And a lot of the time, work sucks. It’s not the fun part. It’s not the glamorous part. It’s not the part that you look back on and think “Geez, that was awesome”. But that’s life. That’s reality. Not everything is fun, and nothing worth while is easy.
You will come to realize the importance of that little filing job very quickly once it’s gone.
So do me a favour, and ask for some of those shifts back. Maybe work a few more to make up for the ones you missed. Go into that office and file until your little fingers are sore. Work as hard as you can on every little job that they give you.
It might not seem like much now, but by giving those women, your employers, a reason to believe in you, you might even find another reason to believe in yourself.