Closer Look

Cards Against Humanity: An intern experience

All photos by Marissa Boulanger // The PHOENIX

A self-described “derpy f*ck with a black sweater thing and scraggly brown beard” was sitting across from me at the Center Stage Cafe in Mundelein.

“Maria said she got paid, but she wasn’t sure if she could tell me how much,” I prompted about 20 minutes into the interview.

Without hesitation, he began, “We actually get paid in Trident Layers.”

Trident Layers, I hastily scribbled in my notebook. What the hell is a Trident Layers payment method?

“So, they do it in a few different ways. Sometimes they’ll give us, like, the apple mint flavor. Other times there is the orange strawberry. So they like to pay us in gum,” he said completely straight-faced.

“Which is my way of saying I can’t really tell you.”

DSC_5796Tom Dyke, 21, a junior Ad/PR major, got me to write in my notebook that he is being paid in gum. He definitely fits in at Cards Against Humanity, a card game that is the sarcastic, satirical version of Apples to Apples. Cards was created as a result of a 2011 campaign on Kickstarter.com, a website that serves as a funding platform for creative projects.

The Eagan, Minnesota, native has been an intern at Cards since September 2014.

“There’s not a lot of organizational structure, which has left the interns as a catch-all group for different tasks,” he said. “That could be seen as a bad thing, but I like to think it’s just given us the opportunity to explore the company.”

Originally, his time at Cards revolved around responding to the hundreds of emails the company gets each day. Responding to emails involves both helping the customer and also poking some fun in their direction in the spirit of the game, he said.

But Dyke has gradually gotten more responsibilities at Cards. He now helps plan events, organizes the other interns and sets up play tests where he gauges reactions to new cards.

The next play test Dyke is planning will take place at The Whistler (2421 N. Milwaukee Ave.), a Logan Square bar. Students are welcome to attend the April 12 event, but Dyke said he can’t give away all the details. The best way to get involved is to sign up for Cards Against Humanity’s Chicago mailing list.

Dyke said he has enjoyed planning the Whistler play test.

“It’s fun to start working with a bunch of moving pieces and organizing it all into a cool event people will hopefully like,” he said.

He also really loves the company.

“It’s become one of those places where I enjoy my job, but more than that I really enjoy what the company stands for,” Dyke said. “With all the success the company has had through its humor, it tries to give back to the community, whether it be in game design or in Chicago. All the people at the company are really cool, and I’ve made some good friends.”

In addition to his everyday responsibilities, Dyke said the 30 hours he puts in at Cards every week aren’t completely devoted to emails or setting up play tests. Playing Killer Queen, a 10-player strategy arcade game, eats up an hour or two every day. Dyke said his boss will often have all five interns play Killer Queen with her.

They also play Slap .45, a game made by one of the creators of Cards. One game they don’t play very often, however, is Cards Against Humanity, Dyke said.

DSC_5794Maria Ranahan, 20, a junior who is also studying Ad/PR, began interning at Cards this semester. She said she answers emails and loves interning at the company.

“Everyone is so welcoming and so kind, which is interesting because the game is very out there and offensive to some, but everyone who works there is just so down to earth and awesome,” Ranahan said. “Also, everyone is really funny and outgoing. If there is one vibe of the office it’s that everyone is so kind.”

The two Ad/PR students are earning class credit for this internship to satisfy the School of Communication’s (SOC) internship requirement. Under the core curriculum, all Loyola students must complete three credits of engaged learning, but what qualifies as credit depends on the student’s major. Credit can be earned from an internship, research project or another unique, out-of-the-classroom experience.

Herb Ritchell, Ad/PR internships coordinator, said only juniors and seniors can get internships for credit because the SOC wants to be sure that the student can add substance to the organization.

“In the working world, people will understand you by your résumé and the experience you’ve had. They may not understand what chemistry 103 or journalism 175 is, but they’ll understand what you did as a reporter or as a public relations person,” he said.

Ritchell said every SOC student will leave with at least one internship, but he recommends doing as many as possible. One former Ad/PR student did 10 internships while at Loyola and went on to work for Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar.

Ritchell estimates his students do an average of three internships while at Loyola. More than 20 percent of students at Loyola participate in an internship program, according to Loyola’s website.

Tom Dyke started at Cards in September 2014, and Maria Ranahan started this January.
Tom Dyke started at Cards in September 2014, and Maria Ranahan started this January.

Dyke and Ranahan have had three internships each, including their current positions at Cards. Dyke interned at Family Focus, where he worked with social media, and was an orientation leader at Loyola. Ranahan interned at Adelstein Liston and Square Planet, a PR firm and communications firm, respectively.

“Not that class isn’t important, but internships give you a broader, more realistic perspective of what a job is going to be like when you graduate,” Ranahan said.

She also said her internship at Cards is helping her become a better copywriter, which is what she wants to do after she graduates.

“Working for Cards has taught me how to encapsulate the tone of a brand and then reflect it in my work, which in the case of this internship, means emails,” Ranahan said. “As a copywriter, really owning the brand you’re representing is key. So basically, this internship has been a good lesson in that.”

Cards required a cover letter, résumé and writing sample from both Dyke and Ranahan when they applied. Ranahan also included a second, made up résumé that informed her potential employers that she is the world’s greatest wingman and can watch 12 straight hours of Netflix without getting sick.

Dyke said that Ranahan’s humorous pretend résumé is what got her the position.

Tom Dyke and Maria Ranahan intern at Cards Against Humanity, and their humor truly matches that of the satirical game company.
Tom Dyke and Maria Ranahan intern at Cards Against Humanity, and their humor truly matches that of the satirical game company.

“The company is interesting,” Dyke said. “It’s really brought out my nerdy side, and I think it does that in a lot of people. I think [our boss] gave a quote about Maria before we hired her, like, ‘she seems like a really great person and, like, a really normal person that we can really bring the weirdness out in.’”

Dyke also got his internship with Cards in a weird way. One night, Dyke got a drunk phone call from an old friend who told him to contact a different old friend who works at Cards to get some free stuff. He went on her Facebook profile and noticed a post about the internship, so he messaged his friend and asked about the position and the free stuff, and she immediately told him to apply.

Ranahan found the internship posted on RamblerLink, an online job and internship database for Loyola students.

Ritchell said RamblerLink is one place students find internships, but it is very broad.

Students looking for internships can also talk to professors, friends, family, roommates and go on professional networking websites such as LinkedIn.

“College is a lot of fun, and you’re learning a lot, but just remember it’s a temporary position you’ve got here,” Ritchell said.

Because college is temporary, Ritchell said students should pretend they are taking an extra class, and then devote the time they spend on a typical class looking for a position, writing cover letters, fixing up résumés and preparing for interviews. It can be a time-consuming process, he said.

But putting in the time can be well worth the experiences.

“I’m leaving with a really good understanding of how to work [in] customer service in terms of what’s important to the company, what’s important to the customers and how to get stuff done in a way that’s efficient for everybody,” Dyke said. “[I’m also leaving with experience in] event planning, comedy writing and business.”

Erin Kelly is the Closer Look editor. She is a senior journalism student at Loyola University Chicago, originally from Lake Villa, IL. A former Better Government Association intern, Erin enjoys working on in-depth stories.