A few weeks ago I went to an internship presentation, for Disney. It was terrible, probably the worst such presentation I’ve ever seen. Basically, they lied; on the advertising flyer that linked to the website they talked about professional positions, but at the meeting they said these were reserved for returning interns – which means the only actually available positions were selling soda, working in the gift shop or sweeping with a broom (not exaggerating; they talked this last one up by saying this made you an ‘ambassador’ across the park, because visitors assumed you knew your way around if you were wheeling around a trash can). They tried to talk up these exalted positions in this creepy Stepford-wife way, too. It went from bad to worse, all the way through.
At a certain point, I thought I should’ve called them out on this, on what was basically a bait-and-switch, and a lie. I should’ve hassled them, even if it made everyone else uncomfortable, and made a scene, just to make the point that you shouldn’t lie on your advertising and expect smiles and rainbows. Instead, I shut my mouth; part of the reason was that it was hard to part with the idea of giving up completely on it, even though that was clearly my decision as soon as I left. It was hard to rule those options out, at least while I was there. Even when the options are worthless, it’s still hard to go in the direction that feels like ‘less.’
I was reading a blog the other day that made me think of this, and how powerful being that lone voice can be. The writer, after filling up a page on a topic that could cost him, finished up by saying, “I’ve nailed my colors to the mast.” It was powerful because it said, regardless of how this makes me look, this is where I stand. You can like it or you can hate it, you can agree with me or you can think I’m stupid, but I’ve declared myself; regardless of where you are, you know where I am. Being the one who goes first, regardless of the consequences, makes that message stand out a hundred times more when everyone else is quiet.