Ss not Zs

20 June 2011
I’m sitting at my own desk, lined against the wall of this spacious, rectangular office. The d├ęcor is ultra modern; the stark white walls and seemingly plastic desks contrast nicely with the black of the office chairs and screens of each desktop computer. Dark wood flooring tiles the grounds, adding a warm touch to what could have otherwise been a cold room. Large windows cover the wall as you enter the space, allowing for natural light to seep into the room. The floor shares the space with two other businesses... I think graphic design companies. My company, however, owns the floor. Literally in terms of amount of people and actually as in they were here first.

The office has one restroom. Thankfully located near my desk. It’s quite entertaining watching employees shuffle in and out of the bathroom door. To the horror of one of the interns, someone had forgotten to lock the door. I’m glad it wasn’t me.

I’ve been assigned to the writing and marketing department. (Department here is a loose terms as there are probably three or four of us that make up the team... I’ld say three of them are interns.) Jenine, the company’s owner and my supervisor, set up my employee email (real proof that I work here) and sent me the Google docs page with listings for the articles that had to be written for the company’s several clients. She encouraged me to direct my focus towards articles for two mobile flirting companies (deep, I know) and a tanning website. Ok, so maybe my assignments aren’t to write the deepest type of articles. But they’re fun to write! I'm able to include my voice, rather than follow the rigid AP style rules. (I asked Jenine if they have AP style in Australia. She looked at me oddly.) 

I started with the tanning website, choosing to document the pros and cons of professional tanning versus self tanning products. I grew up wearing clothes in the pool as a form of sun protection and I’ve been known to curl up in a vinegar bath, hysterically crying that I’m going to get skin cancer. I’ll be the first to tell you that all tanning, salon or store bought, is bad for you. But I figured pros and cons would be a rational way of approaching my topic, although with an obvious lean towards the con. (Clearly there’s nothing good about tanning.) And then it hit me... I’m not writing for myself. I’m writing for a client. A client that sells self tanning products. There’s no room for my “tanning kills so do it in moderation” lecture. It’s incredible how PR sneaks its way into what, to the unknowing eye, appears a harmless article for a company’s website. (Interestingly, each assignment also includes keywords that have to be included every 100 words or so. It works to increase search engine recognizance.) It took me roughly three hours to research and write my 400 word article. I emailed it in and took my hour lunch break.

The Defector’s office is located in the city... roughly a 20 minute walk to the Harbour if that helps give bearings. I strolled along Williams Ave (I think that’s the name of the street) with my packed lunch (a grilled vege and mozerella wrap), enjoying eying my reflection as I strolled past the shop windows. I ate lunch on a bench in Hyde Park. It was a gorgeous hour’s break. I watched a man blow bubbles for a living, entertaining the many children playing in the patches of grass. Another man played the guitar, creating a serene mood for the warm winter day.

I returned from lunch, alternating between skipping from excitement, and attempting to maintain my cool. I approached Jenine to review my article, anticipating the heaps of constructive criticism on my work that one would expect from their first submitted article.

My biggest error, it turned out, was "idolization." "Idolisation" is the proper spelling here in Australia. And TGA instead of FDA. I felt like such a typical American in that I didn't even think that there was a difference in Australian spelling and names of organizations.

But that was it. Jenine loved my work and told me to continue choosing articles off of the assignment page. It was a nice little self- esteem boost.

I spent the rest of my work day writing articles for mobile flirting clients, drawing on my own relationship experience to give tips on long- distance dating, ending long- term relationships, showing rather than saying “I love you” and summer love. (These were suggested topics, not ones I brainstormed on my own.) I found it so strange that I was using my own experiences to give advice to others. It was easy to write, just odd that I referring to my own life.

Day 1: long, but quite a success. The working world isn't so bad after all.


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