Dear Preston: My Paid Internship Was a Waste

Dear Preston,

I am new to the business.  I was married five years ago, and like many brides, I fell in love with the planning process.  In fact, I enjoyed the experience so much that I studied and worked very hard to become a party planner.  I was advised that the best way to go about gaining entry into the business was to become an intern for an established planner.  After significant effort, I finally landed an internship by paying a well-known planner to shadow her on a weekend while she did a wedding.  Unfortunately, this turned out to be a massive disappointment.  I spent most of my time getting coffee for the crew and doing grunt work that had little or nothing to do with planning itself. I have chosen not to mention the name of the planner out of respect, but I feel cheated and ignored.  What do you suggest that I do?



Dear Cheated:

Thank you for your candid letter.  I feel very badly that you did not learn as much as you expected and hope that you had the good sense to write or speak to the planner in question.  Your letter is difficult for me to respond to as I was not there, but I would like to point out a few issues.

I. Paid internships should be about learning the job in question.  I find it very irresponsible of this planner to take your money before clarifying what exactly you would learn.

II. There is only so much a planner can “teach” you.  A lot of my knowledge has been acquired through observation.  This planner may have hoped that by shadowing her, you would “pick up” tips.  This is best clarified by way of a conversation with her.

III. Planning happens mostly while leading into a job.  Yes, the actual event is important, but the next time you reach out to a mentor, keep in mind that learning about what happens before the event is essential.

In any case, I would suggest that you make sure to voice your feelings in a clear and concise way to the planner in question. Hopefully, she’ll be understanding and reimburse you some of your money or invite you to shadow her at another wedding or event.



Question: Would you pay money to be an intern?  Isn’t it enough to offer your time in exchange for knowledge? What is your opinion?

Are you a bride who has been bitten by the planning bug?

(Photo Courtesy of The Bucket List)