Oberlin Blogs

The pains of an intern.

August 4, 2011

Karl Orozco ’13

It's been a very busy summer so far. Much busier than I had thought it would be back in May when I was wondering, "Hm... What am I doing this summer?"

Here I am, balancing two internships and a couple of Oberlin design-related jobs now thinking, "Where has this summer gone?"

It's early August, but everyone knows that August is the shortest month of the year. It's when everyone starts cramming in spontaneous trips to the beach because they realize that they haven't made enough use of this blistering weather. It's when friends find themselves scrambling to see each other before the start of the semester after realizing that it's going to be another 9 months or so 'till they see each other. It's when you start worrying over the beginning of a new school year and trying to remember what it is you really need to accomplish before this cycle of self-questioning happens again at the end of the school year.

And before you know it, August is gone.

Okay, I'm being a little dramatic. And maybe I'm the only one that doesn't like the month of August. I'm sure most people cherish the waning moments of summer. I can't seem to shake the feeling of summer coming to an end and the ever-present thought in my head: What have I done this summer?

It's an unsatisfiable question. If I spend too much time with friends, I feel worried that I'm not feeling important at some awesome job. And if I feel I have spent too many hours working and not enough time relaxing, I feel as if I haven't put my summer to the task it was made for: doing nothing.

This summer, I am interning at two locations: Kaikai Kiki NYC and Artseeka. I'd like to say that both have been rather fulfilling.

Kaikai Kiki NYC is a satellite studio for renowned Japanese artist Takashi Murakami. I like introducing him as "The guy that did the album artwork for Kanye West's Graduation!" but he has much other work that I suggest you check out. Coined as "the Andy Warhol of Japan" (at least, by Wikipedia), I find Murakami's work impressive. Even more impressive is his studio. Kaikai Kiki occupies a sizeable space in Long Island City, Queens. I would love to go on and on about the workings of the studio, the facilities, and the environment, but I am actually under contract to not mention anything about Murakami's artistic process. You'll just have to trust me when I say that it is pretty amazing. My tasks at Kaikai Kiki have so far been menial work. I'm afraid to say anything that I do at work given the supreme secrecy surrounding the studio, especially over the Internet. Nonetheless, it is work that one would generally give to an intern.

Meanwhile, Artseeka is this new social networking website/mobile app directed towards artists. I would like to think of it as the Last.FM of the art world. Unlike the cultural spheres of music, food, gaming and movies, art is one realm that has yet to be broken down by social media. The art world is, unfortunately, controlled by investors and higher-ups that try turning art into cash machines. Artseeka's mission is to take this control away from them and distribute it to the masses. By allowing anyone to take pictures of art and upload it to Artseeka's database, users can locate new pieces of art, find out what cool new exhibits are going on, and follow other friends and artists to see what art they're into as well. The app is currently in a closed-beta phase, meaning not everyone can access it, but it will likely be launched by the end of this year, if not summer. I've been working with Artseeka to help with their publicity campaign, as well as photograph art around New York.

When I'm not at either of these, I've been working closely with Oberlin Admissions to create new "swag," or cool new Oberlin merchandise to give to students, as well as a new branding campaign centered around those white squirrels. Can't seem to get rid of them, eh? Unlike the other two jobs, these pay real (good) money! I'll be sure to update with new info on both of these projects.

I'm quite thankful that I've been able to find such specialized jobs that are very much in line with my interests. And I think that I have done some cool things at both of them. But I keep coming back to this question (as you see, I'm in a question-y mood): Why does this all matter?

While I'm getting a travel stipend and school credit at KaiKai Kiki, I keep wondering: Is an internship really just a name and reference you place on a resume to help sell yourself to someone actually willing to pay you? Does the experience I get doing the dirty dishes really help in the long run? Is this the only way to gain connections for the scary-scary-real-world?

To answer these questions, I'm enlisting in the help of my friends from an awesome web comic, Octopus Pie.

http://www.octopuspie.com/2011-04-19/459-a-lifetime-of-regret/ (read on to page 466)

Blech. Internships. Someone's gotta do 'em, and if you don't, there's bound to be some other college kid willing to accept the job, coffee runs and all, knowing that this is the way that our world works. No one's gonna stop you from basking in the sun all summer long, and if your brain works like mine, the thought of doing such things sounds massively appealing.

But horrifying.

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