If you're a college student or recent graduate and you haven't done an internship already, chances are, you're screwed. Totes screwed.
What you should have done, and what you should be doing instead of waking up at noon to play Call of Duty: Black Ops or marathoning Mad Men, is grabbing your future by the, um, rice balls.
Fortunately for your lazy ass, novel ways of getting internships are all the rage now, including Los Angeles-based Intern Sushi. The company's “intern life-cycle management” program at internsushi.com promises to provide the pole on which your fabulous flag can fly — in the process, helping the right employers (read: television, advertising, films) find you.
We caught up with former intern extraordinaire and Intern Sushi co-founder Shara Senderoff to find out how the site works. Along with her co-founders, producer Mark Gordon and former Paramount exec Richard Gelb, Senderoff, 27, is taking the nepotism out of big-deal internships.
“Most intern applicants are far more talented than the paper résumé can show,” she says. “What we have done is created a platform that allows interns to present themselves in the most creative way they feel necessary to tell their story — anything that an individual believes best articulates who they are and what they can do for a company — and we've asked companies to do the same thing.”
The site allows would-be interns to upload video and post art or writing samples, presenting their best stuff to hiring managers. “It's like Basecamp on crack,” Senderoff says, referring to the industry-standard project-management collaboration software.
In addition to helping employers find you, the system tracks you as an intern, showcasing your growing skill set in a souped-up online profile as you move up the chain from peon to president. Your Intern Sushi profile's dashboard can even manage your internship to-do list while you're on the job.
Senderoff's experience at one coveted entertainment-industry internship got the gears turning. She found herself being asked to assemble IKEA furniture — and that wasn't even the worst of it. “One day, they were like, 'Now we need you to clean the walls with 409. …' ” When she hesitated, she recalls, “They said, 'If you won't do it, one of our other 30 interns will.' And that's when I thought, 'They have no idea who these kids are; they have no idea what they can contribute.' “
So, what's with the sushi motif? According to Senderoff, you never see a messy plate of sushi. “We believe the best qualities of an intern are the same as the best qualities of sushi: innovation, sophistication, variety and transparency — and being raw about who you really are. Both on the intern side and the company side.”