PSA: Office Jobs Help Workers Retain Sanity | a series of misleading titles #3

Blank white walls. Gray tile floor. Hospital-esque fluorescent lights high overhead.

Thank goodness there isn’t a clock on the wall, ticking its monotonous passing of time, because this way, the days don’t seem as long.

To be fair, my workday here as an intern is unofficially only 4.5 hours long, and officially, well — as our boss put it, “I don’t care when you’re here, as long as you have something to show for it in the end.” So really, I’m living the easy life.

Ironically, that almost puts more pressure on me. If things were more structured, and our boss checked in on us daily or something, I might feel a little better about what’s expected of me. Hell, if he only needed me to run and get coffee or carry out menial intern tasks, I’d be happy. Instead, we sit in this storage-room-turned-office staring at our computer screens and blank white walls for (an admittedly short) 4.5 hours each day, half-heartedly carrying out some semblance of productivity.

Amazing how little can get done in 4.5 hours!

“But, Nora, you’ve been at your internship for two full weeks now; have you really done nothing at all?”

I mean, no, the internship hasn’t really been as dull as I say, and I’m not that bad of a worker. It’s true that sitting in this office does make you go a little crazy in the end (I think it’s the walls, the dull boring bright-white poor-paint-job walls) (hi Rachel the intern who sits across from me suffering as she loses her mind every two days or so) but we’ve both been working on our respective projects. The National Coastal Agency is developing a village in southern Albania, ~30 km from the coast, for sustainable tourism, and I’ve been researching eco-friendly waste management systems and their implementation because Albania’s waste management is truly lacking. Recycling doesn’t really exist, and in rural areas, people just dump their garbage wherever — in fields, in abandoned buildings, whatever. So if the NCA wants to make the village a tourist spot, then they’re going to need proper waste disposal. And no matter how psychologically damaging this room might be, I like being an intern and I want to do the best job possible.

I’ve enjoyed my research, and I’m currently typing up a project proposal for a waste management system for the village, but — c’mon. When Google is your teacher and source 100% of the time, your boss is off doing important conference things all over the world (because he’s basically internationally recognized for what he does; he has a Wikipedia page for goodness’ sake), and we’re sitting in this room five days a week slowly working our way through the tangled webs of the Internet, it gets a little — tiring.

I like the work I’m doing, and I hope it comes to something in the end and the NCA actually uses my proposal for the village development. But if there’s anything this internship has taught me, it’s that I never, ever, ever want to be an office worker.



2 thoughts on “PSA: Office Jobs Help Workers Retain Sanity | a series of misleading titles #3

  • May 30, 2017 at 8:47 pm

    It’s so interesting to hear about the waste disposal in Albanian villages! Last year I taught in two villages, and there was a waterfall near where I taught that I would swim in. Once I saw a kid toss a chicken leg into the water, and I tried explaining to him why it was bad to throw trash wherever he wanted but couldn’t get my point across. Sigh.

    My first internship was in a windowless archive mostly alone. Also left with the conclusion that I would never work in an office (oops) but I don’t mind it provided I can move around to different spots and have access to windows.

    • June 1, 2017 at 8:09 am

      I think the biggest challenge in this case won’t be the planning of waste management, but instead educating the villagers and getting their cooperation. Because wouldn’t you be skeptical if some random student from the US came and decided that her ideas were better than what you’ve been doing for as long as you can remember? I can only do so much without support from the village. So I guess it’s also important to remember that I’m a guest in this country and I can’t go in with a “white savior complex” attitude either.

      Good to know that people change 😉


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