A Day In The Life of an International Affairs Program Assistant at a small, progressive New York think tank:
9 am–10 am: Sneak in and hope my boss hasn’t arrived yet. 10 am–11 am: Check email for urgent issues and read up on news. Staying extremely well-informed is an important part of the job. If you aren’t aware of new developments, it can be very embarrassing.
1 pm–2 pm: Eat lunch with various co-workers. My boss is (in)famous for taking expensive 2 hour lunches, but I have to budget my $28,000 salary. I’m always careful what I say. In this field, pride and power are closely-guarded, and office politics can get insane.
3 pm–4 pm: I get to attend meetings at places like the United Nations; through this I sometimes meet international political VIPs. But I’ve also put in time at the copying machine.
4 pm–6 pm: If I’m lucky, as the day winds down I can find time to work on my own freelance writing—op-ed style articles.
Afterwards: Call it a day. Everyday as I leave my office I’m happy I turned down an i-Banking job. Here, I get to feel like I’m doing my little part, though the rewards aren’t always immediate.
A Week In The Life of an intern at the Peggy Guggenheim Museum Venice, Italy
Sunday: Before the iron gates to the Palazzo can open each morning, everything in the museum must be immaculate.
Monday: There are public talks each day on artistic movements and specific works. Today I am giving a presentation on my favorite painting in the collection, a 1944 work by Arshile Gorky.
Tuesday: Everyone is free because the museum is closed! So at night, several of us settle down in Campo Santa Margherita with a Venetian cocktail–this generally succeeds in erasing any cultural or linguistic differences within the group.
Wednesday: Today I’m working in the ticket office, and it’s “Venetian Week,” so all the locals get in free. This makes for a jovial atmosphere, until I try telling a Venetian woman to leave her Fendi bag in the cloakroom.
Thursday: The piercing siren at 8 a.m. tells me that there’s acqua alta (flooding) today. I trudge to work in my rubber boots. After hours, the Guggenheim conservator lectures on Picasso’s paintings techniques. When he removes the protective glass from two early canvases, I learn more in two hours than I did in any college lecture.
Friday & Saturday: Working four days a week allows for a fair amount of travel. This weekend I am off to fair Verona, to feel real earth under my feet for the first time in weeks!
6 Months in the Life of a Jetsetter Around the World
June: I spend a month post-graduation sampling the various culinary offerings of Argentina (steak), Chile (wine) and Peru (llama) with some friends. Then, after realizing that living at home is not nearly as fun or rewarding as going to college was, I move across the country on a whim.
August: I wind up in San Francisco, where I know about three people, and get a job working at an organic produce market in the city’s famous Ferry Building. Though a great learning experience—I am now well-versed in the minutiae of heirloom tomatoes—I quit after a month.
September: Work behind the front desk at a gym in San Francisco’s financial district checking ID cards, and selling protein shakes and energy bars.
Perks: besides getting a free gym membership, every towel I hand out reminds me why I spent hours in the library writing papers and studying for exams.
March: Go to Europe to play for the Brussels Kangaroos, a baseball team in the Belgian first division as one of only three or four foreign players on the team—the rest are native Belgians. In addition to playing for the Kangaroos, I help coach younger players in the Kangaroos’ developmental system. In sum, amazing experiences are what I am interested in at this point in time. So for now my plan is to put aside real-world plans and see what happens. It’s worked so far.