Secret Messages from Zeus Jones: On Interning and Minutiae
September 18th | 2015
by Micah Mackert

There’s a special sensation of foolishness that attends beginning a new job, to which the intern is especially vulnerable.

Every workspace has a secret language, a way of doing things, distilled from the combined character of the employees that is wholly obscure to an outsider. When you don’t know the people yet, I suggest looking to the environment for quiet insights.

I started my internship at the beginning of June. Whenever I found a detail around the office that seemed to communicate something essential about the collective ethos of Zeus Jones, I snapped a photo for future contemplation. By exhibiting them, I hope to share some of what I’ve learned during my profoundly fruitful tenure as a creative intern. To that end I’ve put together this glossary of secret messages from Zeus Jones, annotated with the modest wisdom I have gleaned from each.

Be a Resource

Micah_Images_A.jpg#asset:277

What a reassuring missive to happen upon! During my interview, it was made explicit that Zeus Jones appreciates hearing from young people, new people, and people from outside advertising. Even the most agile, robust organizations can begin to calcify if they don’t look beyond their own walls for new perspectives. As an intern – an outsider – your impressions are a valuable asset, and good intern programs exist, partially, to introduce fresh blood into the system. When you have a good idea or a unique interpretation, don’t hesitate to share it.

Don’t Be Alone

Micah_Images_B.jpg#asset:278

When I found this lonesome fellow, how I sorrowed over his friendlessness, his sterile environs. Being an intern can be isolating. You’re the only person there who doesn’t know anybody else. Don’t let that last beyond the first day. Get to know the other interns if there are any; they know exactly what you’re going through. Get to know people who are doing what you do. These people were once where you are, and they’ll be able to answer questions and introduce you to new approaches and new ways of thinking that will challenge you to do better work. And get to know people who don’t do what you do. Your work will always be better if you know how other departments interact with it. Also, you may realize you like what they do better.

Know Your Rep

Micah_Images_C.jpg#asset:279

A greased palm is worth two in the bush!

Use Your Other Interests

Micah_Images_D.jpg#asset:280

There’s no substitute for professional expertise. But human experience is vast and varied. Let your every glorious obsession bathe in common waters. David Lynch is also a painter, Mao wrote poetry, Kafka and Wallace Stevens worked in insurance, Google employees devote 20% of their time to personal projects. The juxtaposition of disparate interests is a ceaseless source of creativity. The totem of personal inquiry pictured above towers over the lockers at Zeus Jones, a potent reminder that good ideas are forged from diverse origins.

Be Humble

Micah_Images_E.jpg#asset:281

Stashed in a corner of the mudroom, I noticed this unassuming trophy case. At Zeus Jones, being humble represents the ability to learn from those around you, and let good ideas speak for themselves. Recognition is nice. Pursuing recognition is … unappetizing. The ego is a mechanism that allows us to delay the wants of the id and function in a social reality, so I don’t want to bash it. A big head, though, is not to be tolerated. If you lance a big head, you may find it was filled with no more than the pus of self-doubt. That makes me want to cry the tears of sad-feelings. Modesty helps you hear what others are saying.

Party Boy

Micah_Images_F.jpg#asset:282

I have no earthly idea who this is, where he came from, or what his motivations could be and – frankly – I don’t feel comfortable talking about Party Boy when he’s not around.

Don’t Get Comfortable

Micah_Images_G.jpg#asset:283

There’s no reason to let your curiosity flag for a moment. That kind of involuntary confidence or disengagement leads to flaccid work and sloppy mistakes. You’re surrounded by fascinating people doing incredible things: try to match their enthusiasm and learn everything you can from them. I guarantee that behind Bahtmarrgg’s self-satisfied smirk is a caged bat longing for the open air.

Good Health!

Micah_Images_H.jpg#asset:284

Nobody knows what this alluring phrase means, or how it came to Zeus Jones, but I hear in its cretic meter an injunction to raise a toast, and be glad I’m where I ought to be.