June 26, 2012 •
Living Interns in Akron: A Nine-Part Mini-Story
We were told to leave the office, for sanity’s sake. Everyone was running around in a bit of a panic. Some people had left work early. Ren Koozer—Executive Director of IT—looked me dead in the eyes, and then towards Joanna. Go take a walk, he said, and motioned towards the door. Just get out of here. This is nuts.
It was week two, day four for the interns at State and Federal Communications, Inc.—your compliance information source for campaign finance, lobbying, procurement and ethics laws.* Located in downtown Akron, it felt very adult getting dressed in a suit and parking in the designated lot behind the building. Two weeks previous, we had been given key codes and access cards, getting us into rooms that felt exclusive and elite. Inside, we were situated very comfortably, each with our own desks and computers. Everyone was warm, and helpful. Things were starting to feel comfortable.
On this particular day, however, there were five to six strange faces in the office, and they weren’t dressed business casual. Clad in jeans and paint-spotted tees, they bore canvas tool belts around their waists, filled with tools, of course. They passed behind our cubicles by the minute, always smiling and kindly, but noisy nonetheless. They came with ladders, trying desperately to slant them around the sharp angles in the office; they brought sheets of plywood, and plastic, and wooden doors propped against walls not yet attached to anything.
At the moment, they were in the kitchen, across the hall, pounding away at a concrete wall with what sounded like chain saws and sledge hammers. Surely they had plans of mass interior destruction. Home Makeover Goes Corporate. I had my head phones in, trying to drown out the sound, but that only made things worse. The louder they clobbered, the higher my volume had to go. The Mars Volta pulsated through my head phones and into the cochlea; it felt like my ears might implode. I was working on compiling a spreadsheet full of contacts for a conference we were planning. It was hard to alphabetize with all the clamor. I was also supposed to gather rates for our summer outing: Indians vs. Yankees in August. We wanted to purchase a few party favors, but making phone calls was out of the question.
What the men were doing in there, a mere ten feet from my desk, was actually really nice. It was a kitchen they were building. The office already has three of them, two on the first floor and one on the second, but they were making this one, the main one, much larger. Room for more tables was the initiative, so more of us, Elizabeth said, could eat lunch together. Elizabeth Bartz—our boss, the President, the CEO and the head of this home—was initiating a gesture for our comfort and camaraderie. I thought that was really thoughtful, and sweet. But still, we were new here, the interns, and trying to figure out what it is we’re supposed to do. And then do it, well. And maybe we were nervous about it.
The jackhammer grinding into the stone across from our cubicles wasn’t helping.
State and Federal Communications, Inc. provides research and consulting services for government relations professionals on lobbying laws, procurement lobbying laws, political contribution laws in the United States and Canada. Learn more by visiting stateandfed.com.