Wanted: One Intern With No Personal Life

It’s not uncommon for an employee to feel that a job isn’t living up to the lofty expectations he or she had upon being hired. But here’s guessing that isn’t much of an issue at Dalkey Archive Press.

The publisher of fiction, nonfiction and poetry, with offices in London, Dublin and Champaign, Ill., is apparently in search of an intern. To be more specific, the company seeks an intern for whom work/life balance isn’t important. At all.

According to Dalkey Archive’s recent job post advertising an open position in its London office, applicants must “not have any other commitments (personal or professional) that will interfere with work at the Press,” such as “family obligations, writing, involvement with other organizations, degrees to be finished, holidays to be taken, weddings to attend in Rio” and so on. Oh, and the post also offers this not-so-subtle advice for would-be candidates that may not be taking these requirements seriously: DO NOT APPLY if all of the above does not describe you.

Need more proof—besides threatening capital letters—that Dalkey Archive means business? Take a look at some of the offenses the organization deems “grounds for immediate dismissal” during the intern’s probationary period:

Coming in late or leaving early without prior permission.

Being unavailable at night or on the weekends.

Failing to meet any goals.

Giving unsolicited advice about how to run things.

Surfing the Internet while at work.

Failing to respond to emails in a timely way.

Making repeated mistakes.

Yikes. The post was taken down within a few days of its first appearance, but not before making the rounds online, where opinions were divided as to whether the job description was to be taken at face value or with tongue at least somewhat-in-cheek.

Either way, you’d be right, according to Dalkey Archive founder John O’Brien. “The advertisement was a modest proposal,” he told The Irish Times. “Serious and not serious at the same time.” In what he called his “official reaction to the hornet’s nest,” O’Brien noted he “take[s] internships very seriously, and take[s] on only people I think might be a future employee.”

O’Brien also lamented his “very mixed” experience with interns, with “the most common problem being that they aren’t prepared, don’t know what to expect, hope that a job might be at the end of the rainbow, and yet don’t have a clue as to what an employer is looking for. Employers wind up frustrated that they put in so much time, and the interns wonder why a job wasn’t forthcoming.”

Off-putting job descriptions aside, you have to give O’Brien some points for honesty. His eventual intern may not have much of a life outside the office, but he or she won’t have any unrealistic expectations about the job, either.

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