Don’t Take it Personally

I had a bit of an issue with HR  at Time, Inc, which is the overarching company that runs TIME Magazine. It kind of bugged me for a while, but I think I’ve come out of it with a better outlook on my situation here.

When I first started at TIME, I was given the email zachary_cohen@timemagazine.com, which I used to communicate with outside sources and with reporters in the bureau. It was basically mandatory, because I would regularly represent TIME Magazine. It also made me feel like I was a real and productive part of the bureau and the greater magazine that I’ve come to admire for my entire adult life. Needless to say, it felt pretty cool.

Then I got an email from an administrative assistant in the office who said Human Resources had come up with a new rule that said that unpaid interns were not allowed to have personal emails. They were going to be revoking the email I was using with no guarantee that I’d get a replacement.

This was a bit of a slap to the face. On a pragmatic level, it would make things difficult for me, especially since I was waiting on sources to email me information for reporters’ stories. Changing that contact info turned out to be quite the hassle, and I spent a lot of my time which could have best been spent in other, more useful endeavors. But on a more personal level, it was another reminder that I was “just an intern.” For someone like me who wants to get involved and put in the time and effort even without being paid, an email address is a bare minimum.

For a while I had to work from my personal email, which, luckily, was completely respectable and not something infantile like sk8rboy37 or yankeefan123. Eventually, with the help of a colleague at the bureau, we were able to get me a more generic email, dcinterns@timemagazine.com. It’s not nearly as useful or respectable, and I feel a little foolish when I give it out to sources and coworkers. But at least we were able to work things out in a respectful manner with a decent compromise.

The whole episode was  reminder that I have a ways to go before I am a respected journalist, and it’s only a matter of time before I can feel like an individual, a working part of the organization, a real reporter. Not a lowly student. If anything, this has encouraged me to keep working to make my time here all the more meaningful. And I’ll get there.

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