Illustration by Charlotte Muth

Zara Patel 
3 June 2018

“Holy shit! Is this NARS?” my friend gasped as she lounged on my bed and examined an array of beauty products around her. “This must be like $500 worth of makeup!”

“Feel free to help yourself,” I replied as I painted my nails.

“I seriously can’t believe this. You’re lying, right? I mean, you can tell me if you just went into Sephora and stole all of this! I won’t judge you,” she said.

“Shut up!” I laughed, “It sounds crazy but it was all just lying on my desk when I arrived, kind of like a welcome gift.”

“Damn! Now I know why you decided to stay back in the Bay Area and do an internship!”

Her words really struck me; it made me start wondering why I was working this summer. For as long as I can remember, this was always my plan. My parents constantly reinforced the idea of receiving a good education and utilizing my free time during the summer to work at a leading company to gain work experience for the future. So, I truly lucked out when I scored an internship with Sephora.

I have been an avid client at Sephora since the day I discovered makeup and binge watched makeup tutorials on YouTube. That's why the opportunity to work behind the scenes was a dream come true. I have now been working here for roughly three weeks and I am awestruck by the insane amount of work and thought that goes behind every single decision that’s made.

I am so grateful that this isn’t a clichéd “fetch my coffee” type of internship, but one that has me working on interesting projects that will be entering the public sphere in the next few months. There are also days where in typical intern fashion I sort and arrange piles of makeup. During my second week as I logged and bagged Becca highlighters I thought to myself: “Is this the start of my career?”

One day, will I be giving a talk at a conference, reminiscing about my start in the corporate world as an intern, the hours I put in, the positions I later held and the work that goes into climbing the corporate ladder? In my opinion, the corporate ladder embodies the notion of the American Dream: if you work hard enough then you can work your way to the top. I suppose that’s why people are so enticed by the corporate world. On the other hand, it can be argued that it is a safe option because you earn a stable income, but you use all your creativity and effort to be a small wheel that churns within a larger machine.

Yet, sometimes I cannot help but feel that maybe this is not the life for me. I like to think that the journey to adulthood is like navigating a ship through a tsunami - it is turbulent and you cannot see clearly ahead. There has always been a part of me that loved the idea of being an entrepreneur, that maybe I could go back home to India and start something of my own. I love the idea that I could harness all my creativity and efforts towards something that I have total control over. However, as you already know, that’s risky - one wrong move and you could be back to square one. Life is easily one giant game of snakes and ladders and right now, I have no clue about what could happen next.

If only Sephora sold a concealer that could cover up all the doubts and uncertainty about the future that plague my thoughts- maybe then I could finally make up my mind. As for the present, I am loving my time as an intern at Sephora; no matter what happens, I know that I am going to use the skills and knowledge that I will gain through this internship in my future. Yet, in the back of my mind there are still some dark thoughts that are looming and make me question if I am cut out to play the vicious game of Snakes & Corporate Ladders?

Then again, that NARS lipstick is amazing.