Assuming I make it to the big leagues someday, I’m keeping a running list of the evils I want to inflict on my future lackeys. This is partly for their own benefit, but mostly for my own entertainment.
- Profile me: First, before I hire them, they’ll have to interview me and write a profile. It’s not just blatant narcissism—although they better brown-nose at least a little bit. I want to gauge their interviewing and writing skills. I don’t want some awkward deadbeat working for my awesome pub.
- Write a story cold—In the August 2009 issue of Esquire, Cal Fussman was sent to interview “some guy named Gerry.” That’s all he knew. He showed up at a huge house that really belonged to Gerard Butler, actor extraordinaire, and conducted a whole interview not knowing who he was. This probably falls under cruel and unusual intern punishment, but it would be hilarious to send one in cold to an interview someday.
- Find sources, ask awkward questions—This summer my editors at Midwest Living admittedly set me up to fail. They told me to find people with scary jobs and ask them what scares them—a question that makes most professionals scratch their heads. On the list: bomb technicians, ghost hunters, escape artists and professional bull riders. I had to make about 50 awkward phone calls—but I found them. My editors loved it and that little treasure hunt was one of my favorite intern projects ever.
I’m sure there’ll be more to come in the years ahead. And If my interns come out on top, a stellar letter of recommendation is all theirs. Mazel tov.