Attention Wealthy Sadomasochists: Your (Maybe Satirical) Internship Awaits

Have you heard about the skills gap? That phenomenon where folks don't have the skills employers supposedly need for jobs?

Well, not everyone believes the skills gap is real. The problem, they say, is actually that employers have unrealistic expectations for what one job position can accomplish. Hiring managers write job descriptions that no one can measure up to--the equivalent of "Be double jointed, speak four languages, AND a gourmet cook." Or, they want applicants to have a master's degree, 10+ years experience, and the starting salary will be $30,000--in San Francisco.

Sane people look at that sort of job description and say, pfft, step away from the crack pipe, homie. Then the employer wrings her hands and says, OMG, I can't find anyone for this job!

The Dalkey Archive Press may be on the cusp of becoming one of these hand-wringing employers because I can't fathom how they're possibly going to find someone to take the jobs they've posted on their website...oh wait, because it's not a job. It's an unpaid internship that could possibly/maybe lead to a job. Here's what's required:

1. You must "have already demonstrated a strong interest in literary publishing." Yeah, cos folks who have no interest are going to apply? Critical thinking, people

2. You need to be "very well read in literature in general and Dalkey Archive books in particular." That means if you have a dog-eared copy of 50 Shades of Grey, you can forget it. 

3. You should be "highly motivated and ambitious." All of you Gen X slackers can start weeping into your old Nirvana t-shirts.

4. Also, be "determined to have a career in publishing and will sacrifice to make that career happen." Your firstborn child, stat.

But overall, not so bad, right? Sure, all the talk of sacrifices makes it sound like you're joining a cult instead of potentially finding a place to have an internship, but this kind of talk from businesses is not unusual in 2012. After all, they are people--and they want you to consider them as family. Family that may lay you off instead of retraining you for a new position, family that may decide to move your job oversees, but family nonetheless. Oh and family that will steal your pension. But I digress...

5. Next you must be "willing to start off at a low-level salary and work their way upwards." Clearly, your reward is the prestige of the Dalkey name on your resume, not money to pay your bills. I suggest that you come from a rich family or find a sugar daddy to pay your rent and car note cos clearly, Dalkey is not the one.

6. You should "possess multi-dimensional skills that will be applied to work at the Press." You better know how to fix the photocopier AND line edit, mmkay?

7. You should "look forward to undergoing a rigorous and challenging probationary period either as an intern or employee." What is it with folks and the word "rigorous?" It's become one of those 21st Century jargon words that's most often heard in education circles--"Our school boasts rigorous academics"--but it always reads like, "You should look forward to descending into Hell. Painfully."

 9. You must also "want to work at Dalkey Archive Press doing whatever is required of them to make the Press succeed." Again, the Dalkey folks seem to lack critical thinking. Employees have an interest in making sure the press succeeds so it doesn't go under. If it goes under, the employee's job disappears. If it succeeds, they get a raise...oh wait, these positions are unpaid. Nevermind.

Now here's the real kicker...

10. "Do not have any other commitments (personal or professional) that will interfere with their work at the Press (family obligations, writing, involvement with other organizations, degrees to be finished, holidays to be taken, weddings to attend in Rio, etc.)" Well dang, I guess we know Lindsay Lohan isn't going to get this one. Also, does this mean Christmas is canceled, Mr. Scrooge?

After some more lecturing on how applicants must "know how to act and behave in a professional office environment with high standards of performance," Dalkey goes on to elaborate their grounds for dismissal.
"Any of the following will be grounds for immediate dismissal during the probationary period: coming in late or leaving early without prior permission; being unavailable at night or on the weekends; failing to meet any goals; giving unsolicited advice about how to run things; taking personal phone calls during work hours; gossiping; misusing company property, including surfing the internet while at work; submission of poorly written materials; creating an atmosphere of complaint or argument; failing to respond to emails in a timely way; not showing an interest in other aspects of publishing beyond editorial; making repeated mistakes; violating company policies. DO NOT APPLY if you have a work history containing any of the above."
The one that really gets me is "giving unsolicited advice about how to run things?" So Dalkey expects me to be a smart, multi-tasking, highly intelligent person who wants them to succeed and will sacrifice for them, but I"m supposed to keep my mouth shut if I see something going wrong? Yeah, I'll just go give The Cure's "Charlotte Sometimes" another listen because, depressingly, this is not unusual at businesses in our world.

Which is what makes it quite interesting that this morning Dalkey claims it's all some Jonathan Swift-style satire. Except pretty much everyone who read it took it as a real internship posting. How much do you want to bet that Dalkey gets thousands of applicants?


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