Five books that embody everything we want in an internship

Some people see internships as nothing more than a school requirement to begrudgingly fulfill, but for a lot of us, it’s the beginning of the rest of our lives. Once you finally figure out where you’re headed for on-the-job training, you get to open up this new world where anything can and will happen — it’s your first real taste of the path you’ve laid out for yourself. You get to meet new people, face new challenges, prove yourself, and mess up in ways you never could have predicted, but it’s all part of the learning experience.

Internships don’t always result in a whirlwind romance or getting to rub elbows with your personal heroes, but they always allow you to grow as a person. Whether you’re reminiscing about your days of OJT past, waiting to take your own crack at it, or looking for some resonance to your ongoing internship experience, look to the books listed below for a fun yet genuine depiction of first voyages in the Real World™.

Flirt series by Nicole Clarke

Four young women — sunny California girl/future Pulitzer winner Mel, prim and proper London fashion maven Olivia, funny-girl and Argentine photographer Alexa, and free-spirited Japanese pop culture and music savant Kiyoko — meet and become their own Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants (minus the pants) as interns in the offices of titular mega-magazine Flirt. Between shoots, coffee runs, worldly travels, and meeting deadlines, not to mention school and personal dilemmas, they come to discover that they can take on anything if they’ve got one another. Consisting of eight books and a ninth entry that centers on new characters but unfortunately never got a follow-up, Flirt was a product of the pre-iPhone age but ahead of its time, released in large format with covers made to resemble magazines and with glossy fake article inserts after the final page.

Little Black Dresses, Little White Lies by Laura Stampler

Hoping to leave her dead-end suburban existence behind, Harper pens an essay that lands her a dating blogger position at teen magazine Shift, and she gets to live it up in New York for the summer. The catch? She basically has zero dating experience, and may have “borrowed” her best friend’s story and used it for her application. In addition to faking and winging it for her growing audience (and intimidating editor), she has to deal with prospective romance(s), a PR disaster or two, and friendships to make, break, and mend.

Everything Leads to You by Nina LaCour

For hopeless romantic Emi, who interns for a Hollywood production designer, there’s no difference between the work that goes into filmmaking and the magic to be witnessed in the cinema, where meet-cutes almost always lead to happy endings and there’s no greater power than true love’s kiss. In real life, it’s more complicated than that: She often ends up crawling back to the messy relationship she’s had forever. That is, until a letter from a silver-screen legend leads her to mysterious and magnetic Ava, who shows her the true meaning of love, family, and acceptance.

My Salinger Year by Joanna Rakoff

A vivid snapshot of ‘90s literary New York that puts readers right inside the busy, typewriter-dominated offices of what the author simply calls the Agency, Joanna Rakoff’s memoir harkens back to her early 20s, when she worked as an assistant to a literary agent whose roster included the J.D. Salinger, whom they called “Jerry.” Tasked with answering Salinger’s fan mail with a pre-written form letter, Rakoff finds herself emotionally taken by the stories of people whose lives have been changed by his words and soon begins writing lengthy, personal responses of her own.

One Crazy Summer by Ines Bautista-Yao

College junior Tania’s culinary dreams are put on the back burner when she’s fired from her internship at her aunt’s diner. The last thing she needs, then, is to come between her secret crush and his equally cute best friend, who seems to be harboring a secret of his own. What she needs is to focus — and a mad scramble to get her internship credits and get her cooking career back on track. With a sleepy, slow-paced setting outside Metro Manila, One Crazy Summer packs a few extra treats, literally, in the form of Tania’s recipes that you can whip up in real life.

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