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When I was 19, my father thought it would be a great opportunity to work as an intern at one of the biggest food and beverage companies in the world. I've never been interested in working an office job—to be honest I have no idea what they do all day. After fighting a losing battle, I had no choice but to buy myself a less fun version of an Ellen Degeneres outfit and go to the office from nine to five for two months of my summer holidays.
In this post, you'll see a list of encounters I experienced during this short internship which were significant enough to put me off working in an office entirely. Forever.
The Unwillingness, Inability and Disregard for Being Welcoming
I understand office people are busy. They have "lots of things to do," "lots of emails to answer," and "lots of things to present." They also have "very important meetings" multiple times a week, and have to deal with "very difficult and complicated people."
Part of "everything they have to do," is to explain the duties, tasks, and the entire mechanism of the company to new interns or employees. There is nothing more stressful and annoying than feeling completely useless at a job where you're supposed to be doing the exact opposite of uselessness; but unfortunately that is what I would end up feeling like.
The worst part, (because of my terrible ability to be confrontational) is that I would prefer sitting still at my desk making typing noises on my loud laptop keyboard rather than to go up and ask my manager for tasks to do.
Of course, I did try to do this many times. But after being sent over to multiple managers (that had no clue who I was) because she didn't have any tasks for me, I decided that sitting quietly was my best option.
No Real "Home-Time"
On my first day, I was told that it would make a good impression if I looked comfortable at asking questions. So, I took this as an opportunity to ask the only question that I was interested in: "at what time do people normally go home?"
The answer was not what I wanted it to be.
The lady said that on everyone's contract, 5 pm is written down as the time at which everyone should go home and rest, spend time with the kids, and think of something that isn't related to work for the sake of mental health.
On the other hand, she also said that even though 5pm was official home-time, people actually left at around seven or later; and it was an unwritten rule that out of respect, one should stay after hours.
I'm sorry... but did I get paid extra hours? No. Did I even get paid at all? Of course not. But did I still leave much later than I had to because I was scared of getting dirty looks? Absolutely. Did I pretend I was actually doing work but in reality was just making drawings on Paint? Duh.
Taking Advantage of Underpaid Interns
Okay, I'll admit it. The only reason why I got the chance to become an intern at this company was because my father worked in it. Don't get me wrong, it was a great opportunity to learn, and it looks amazing on CVs. However, being an "unofficial" intern, this meant that I was not going to get paid at all for my time there.
This also meant that for some reason, they thought it was a good idea to send me away on "field trips" to better understand the business.
In all honesty, I think this is a great idea and that all employees should go on one of these at least once a year. It's extremely eye-opening and lets you inside a world you never knew existed, but is what really makes the business work.
One thing I do have to say, is that the levels of effort and dedication that all of the workers showed while I was there were nothing like I have never seen before. I never heard anyone complain; only good attitudes and hard working people I am proud to call as my own kind.
During the first week, I was sent to a chicken distribution site. I actually have no idea what these places are called, but a "chicken distribution site" is as close as it gets.
First off, my shifts started at 4 am, and ended at around 7pm. I had to ride the Mexico City metro at dawn so I could get there in time. Once I was there, I waited until a small three-seater van was filled with tons of dead chickens, and I was sent on my way to the most remote areas of the city.
I had my legs touched several times by the driver, was unintentionally involved in helping him steal a newspaper from a chicken shop, and had constant chicken blood on my shoes; all while having the task of checking on how the company's seasoning product was selling at every shop... without knowing exactly what I was doing of course.
During my second week, I was sent to a supermarket to help stack products off the pallets onto the shelves. I was told to bring a blue polo shirt (which I took of my dad) and working boots (a paid of Timberlands was I all I had). After the previous week, I was actually looking forward to being in a supermarket, where I could eat of the food samples whenever I wanted.
However, I only lasted one day at this learning experience.
On the first day of this supermarket adventure, I was coming in from the staff entrance when I suddenly heard a loud rumble and someone shouting "AGUAS QUE AHI VIENE!" (Mexican for: Careful, it's coming).
In less than a second, I was on the floor with a forklift carrying several hundred kilos of merchandise crushing my left foot. Of course, it also took no time at all for dozens of men helping me up and lifting the thing of my foot.
The crash actually hurt like a moth*erf**ker, but because I was in shock and not wanting to cause a scene, I covered my pain with embarrassingly loud laughs and hand gestures communicating that I was alright—which I clearly wasn't due to the massive blue, swollen bruise that was busy crawling all over my foot.
After a few hours of pretending I was okay and stacking products all around the supermarket, I decided it was time to hobble to the hospital to get it checked out; only to be told it had been fractured.
All of the stories about where they sent be and what they made me do are quite irrelevant to be honest. In fact, I actually think that staying away from the office was a lot more fun and educational than being in it.
However, I do draw the line at the point where the company refused to cover any of the medical costs I had to pay while I was ON THE JOB.
When I turned up in crutches to the office the next day, they told me I was a safety hazard and needed to leave the building immediately.
With this, I can say that working in an office definitely left a permanent sour taste in my mouth. I recognize that I am very lucky to have been able to take a peek into the corporate world, but it is definitely one that I will try hard to stay away from; unless I have the opportunity to experience one that changes my outlook completely.