Hi all! I’m aware that I’ve taken long hiatus from posting, but university is stressful! Ya feel?
I just wrapped up my junior year at Franklin University Switzerland (wow how time flies), and in between the hustle and bustle of papers, readings, midterms, and group projects I also applied to many, many internships in the hopes of gaining some *professional* experience before *deep breath* entering the workforce next year.
In my search, I came across what was advertised as “The Best Internship……Ever” and after reading a job description that touted pay, free travel, and an opportunity to write– it really did seem perfect!
Verbatim this is what the posting listed: “Fly around the world reviewing flights, hotels, trains and more for our global audience. Awesome photography skills and design knowledge a plus.
Whoever thought you could get paid to write about “what I did on summer vacation?” All you have to do is share your experiences with the world in a series of written reviews with photos, videos and social media posts.”
It really sounded too good to be true (and tbh a lot fake)! But with the unique confidence that only follows half a bottle of wine, I decided to shoot my shot.
Now, I’m not one to toot my own horn too often (~alliteration~), BUT I am indeed what the kids would call *well-travelled* (and my parents would call spoiled). Either way, I have been blessed with incredible opportunities that younger me could only dream of:
-Working as a commercial salmon fisherman in the Bering Sea
-Running THE ORIGINAL Marathon from Marathon to Athens (without training)
-Hunting for the Loch Ness Monster in Scotland
-A rare guided tour of the Parliament in Azerbaijan
-Clubbing at Basiani in Tbilisi, Georgia (converted underground pool beneath their Soviet-Era Soccer Stadium)
-Sipping mojitos on the beach in Mykonos
These accomplishments(?) may not qualify me for much, BUT I AM A DAMN SEASONED TRAVELLER (parents please read as “ungrateful leech”). So, I sent in my resume and funky-fresh cover letter and dove back into the stresses of academia.
Flash forward a month later when in the peak of finals week, I got an email SAYING THAT I, GUNNAR LUNDBERG, HAD BEEN SELECTED FOR A PHONE INTERVIEW. Needless to say, I was ecstatic. My dreams of impending finals were suddenly replaced with enchanting visions of far off lands (and of course their accompanying foods).
A few days later there I sat, ready– poised in bed with my resume, cover letter, course catalog, and Wonder Woman-esq power pose.
Two minutes passed our scheduled 13:30pm call, the phone rang *gasp*
AND THEN IT ALL WENT DOWN HILL. FAST. LIKE A GIANT SNOWBALL OF SHAME.
But let’s slow it down.
The interview began well, but the unenthusiastic and monotonous tone in the interviewer’s voice did raise a few red flags.
She asked about my school in Switzerland, why I choose to go there, and what about travelling I loved.
I spoke at length about the people I had met in $5 a night hostels, my favorite museums, and most importantly the impacts, both personal and external, that travel has (Because hello! Planes are one of the biggest sources of CO2 emissions and unregulated tourism can literally DESTROY PARTS OF THE WORLD FOREVER).
To my surprise, the interviewer, who represented a business focused *solely* on travel, didn’t really seem to care.
She wanted to know about how many “miles” I had accumulated on respective loyalty programs in my lifetime, and how many “points” I had earned on my credit cards (yes, cards plural).
I told her that as a university student who lives abroad, I can’t afford to be loyal to an airline company, as I have to pick the cheapest one available. And yes, I’m aware that that means I won’t be eligible to be “upgraded” to business, or first class, but as a 21-year-old who lives Switzerland and travels regularly– I’m incredibly grateful to even fly coach (I also conveniently left out the fact that I actually *owe* money on my singular credit card).
The response? Well, it was along the lines of “So no miles then?”
This is where it became very clear that this company and I did not share the same definition of “travel” and more importantly the reason one travels.
So, no. I don’t have any airline miles, I have never been inside a lounge at an airport, I have never flown first class, and in all honesty I LOATHE AIRPORTS AND FLIGHTS.
I fly EasyJet and Ryanair because they get me round-trip to Brussels for $20, Paris for $30, Portugal for $60, and Sicily for $45 (all from Milan btw). And yes, it’s cramped, and I may only be able to bring a backpack– but that’s ok! Because, to contradict Miley Cyrus, IT IS ABOUT THE DESTINATION. And more importantly it’s about who you can meet there, what you can learn from them, and how little a footprint you can leave while doing it.
Despite the flashy experiences I listed above I’ve also:
-Done countless free-walking-tours all over Europe
-Visited whiskey distilleries in Scotland to tour their craft
-Had a workshop at the former Gestapo headquarters in Berlin
-Visited Stalin’s hometown in Georgia
-Seen *the* lighthouse that Virginia Woolf wrote about in her novel
-Toured the Auschwitz concentration camp in Poland
-And much more.
I left the phone interview disheartened, in shock, and wholly sure that I would not get the job.
And I was right.
I got this very email earlier today:
“I thoroughly enjoyed our conversation; however after much deliberation, we have decided not to move forward in the interview process with you at this time. I appreciate your interest in –––––––––, and I hope that we can reconnect in the future when our needs better align.”
And guys– I WAS SAD. Not that I didn’t get the job, but that one of the largest travel companies around didn’t think that thoughtful, sustainable travel was a “need” they were focused on! How whack is that?!?!
They also announced who they did pick, and as expected it was someone with a zeal for all things airports and airplanes, and of course– no noticeable sense of environmental impact as: “At Delta, [they] gained a reputation for taking the most indirect routings possible — think Atlanta to Miami via Los Angeles, or to Amsterdam via Seattle — just to spend more time in the air.”
Now I don’t want to hate, but again hello!!!!!! Fossil fuels!!!!!! Like excuse me CAROL (not said person’s real name) but do all those fancy “miles” pay off your carbon footprint from your first class flight with unnecessary legs that you added just to accumulate *more* miles?!?!?!
Now, in this company’s defense they are focused on helping people accumulate “points” and “miles” to help lessen (the incredibly high) cost of traveling. And that is a message I can get behind. But the purpose can’t stop there! Travel is one of the most polluting industries on our DYING planet. Socially consciousness and responsible travel is not a “need” for the future, it’s a necessity for now. With a platform as large as the one this company has, it’s a shame that they don’t use it to educate new travelers on the need to be thoughtful, respectful, and sustainable.
So, in the meantime I’ll be sticking it out in cramped, cheap, no baggage allowance EasyJet flights for my wallet, our planet, and frankly– my college-aged ego.
On an ~entirely~ unrelated note I am also looking for a summer job/internship. So, if you have anything (that doesn’t make my progressive, pro-choice, snowflake mind churn), HIT ME UP!
Thanks, Gunnar Lundberg