FIB No. 4—The Search for (Greg) Justice

An interview with the world’s most interesting intern.

In June, 2010 a skinny six foot, seven inch tour de force broke through the staid cultural ceiling at Cisco Systems unleashing a barrage of nonsensical rhymes and ushering a new chapter in intern development programs. Greg Justice, the self-proclaimed “world’s most interesting intern” was an instant hit, coining numerous memorable lines such as  “always clean and never late,” “talented in every way,” and the ever popular “ergonomic desk chair.” 

After leaving a trail of hit videos, Justice left the limelight almost as quickly as he emerged and returned to his undergraduate studies at Stanford University. 

Disclaimer: As it is with all FIB Wire posts, this blog contains no meaningful facts, truths, or intelligence of any kind (future or otherwise). It’s pure fiction.

Intern Greg Justice in August 2010 delivering his farewell video before returning to Stanford.

More than a quarter century in the year 2036 and we ask “Where is Greg Justice now?” As it turns out, he is still an intern at Cisco. We tracked him down to a small cubicle at the corporate campus in San Jose and after some coaxing convinced him to join us for this special interview that we are backcasting to the year 2011. 

FIB Wire – Hello Greg! It’s good to see you again. You look very different from your first video. I hardly recognized you!

Greg – Well back then I was only 21 and now I am 46 years old. Can you believe I’m almost 50?

FIB WIRE – Looking at you now I can totally believe it. So tell us, did you ever graduate? Why are you still an intern?

Greg – After graduation I started working for a film producer in LA. I rode around in limos, met a lot of glamorous people, went to some outrageous parties, and got to work on some big budget projects. But oddly enough, it was a lot more tiresome than interesting. After a while I got very frustrated and was ready to give it all up to return to Stanford and study to become an orthodontist. 

FIB WIRE – What? You wanted to be an Orthodontist?

Greg – I was really looking for stability. However, as I looked back on my summer as an intern at Cisco, I realized I needed a more interesting life than one of an overpriced dentist. So I contacted my former mentor, he made some phone calls, and got me a job. I’ve been here ever since.

FIB WIRE – I read that one of the first things you did as the new intern was to form a PIP Squad. Tell us about that. 

Greg – My company is committed to the growth of its people. But at the time employees could only follow one of two major career tracks - technical or management. While this works for most employees, interns who have no ambition to follow either path had nowhere to go. So with blessings from senior management, we developed the permanent intern program (PIP Squad) so we could grow in our own special direction.

FIB WIRE – And remain an intern for the rest of your career?

Greg – Yes that’s correct. However to be an intern for that long and remain as interesting as I am, you have to raise the bar and elevate internship to a professional occupation. We now have an international PIP society with 15,000 members from 324 companies and 51 countries. The society provides referral programs, retirement benefits, a lobbyist in DC, and car insurance.  

FIB WIRE – Good for you. But what does an intern do for 25 years. Doesn’t it get boring?

Greg – Well for one thing you’re talking to the world’s most interesting intern so you know it’s never boring. We assist the brightest and the best engineers and marketers in the world right here in Silicon Valley. I’ve also traveled the world and met a lot of other interesting people and even met the president of Russia when he was here. Also, every year we prep for the international PIP Cup Challenge where we compete against hundreds of other permanent interns. This year we are going to Helsinki.

FIB WIRE – What kinds of competition?

Greg – Pretty intense intern stuff like problem solving, converting database files to scatter charts, locating people you don’t know and convincing them to approve a $500 purchase request, that kind of thing. My favorites are the technical races – setting up a holographic projector and assembling an ergonomic desk chair from IKEA. The last one was my idea by the way. It requires a combination of ingenuity and a knack for deciphering really arcane instructions.

FIB WIRE – Let’s go back to the beginning if you don’t mind. When you became an intern in 2010, were you really the world’s most interesting intern or did you just make that up?

Greg – I guess it was both. Back then a career as an intern typically lasted only three months and I wanted to make the best of it. When I saw the world’s most interesting man in the Dos Equis commercials, I wanted to be like him. Since I could never actually be him, I settled for being the world’s most interesting intern.

FIB WIRE – But were you really that interesting?

Greg – I felt I was and since no one else had staked a claim, I thought I had a good shot at it. Fortunately back then most interns were pretty boring. Even Lewinsky didn’t have an interesting background. But for me I could rhyme, I could dunk a basketball, I met the president of Russia. I had no limits except that three-month deadline.

FIB WIRE – What about today?

Greg – I think I’m still pretty interesting although it’s getting tougher because for the first time, a lot of interesting kids are now aspiring to be interns. It keeps me on my toes. I have to read a lot and practice new skills three hours every day just to keep up.

FIB WIRE – You were always pretty prolific with videos, tweets, and other media. However when we were researching for this interview we could find nothing during the years 2028 to 2030. What happened? Were you on a sabbatical?

Greg – Those were dark and difficult years. I still went to my cubicle every day but I had lost interest in being interesting. You might call it burnout but in reality I was going down the wrong path and hanging out with the wrong crowd. You could say I was the Charlie Sheen of interns. Being like a rock star can take its toll. I don’t want to go into detail but I’m not proud of that period. 

FIB WIRE – How did you snap out of it?

Greg – (wipes away a tear). All of the college and permanent interns and our mentor got together and confronted me directly about it. It was an awkward and painful intervention, but it saved my life and my career. I had to face the truth and fight my way back to becoming interesting again. I owe everything to my PIP support group. They are like family.

FIB WIRE – I’m glad it worked out. Speaking of family, what did you parents think of you becoming a permanent intern? Were they concerned?

Greg – Of course they were concerned. I wouldn’t call them Tiger Moms but a Stanford education isn’t cheap and at the time no one aspired to be an intern for life. But being an orthodontist – well you can imagine what it would do to someone like me. In the end, my parents supported my decision and I think they are glad they did.

FIB WIRE – You passed up two lucrative careers to pursue your passion for internship. Do you have any regrets from a financial perspective?

Greg – It’s true that entry-level interns are at the lower end of the pay scale, but a company like ours shares its success with its people. I don’t make the salary of an orthodontist, but I have good benefits and I get generous stock options. My counterparts at Google are doing quite well too.

I like the stability. Besides, the craft of being interesting requires that I create my own success rather than expecting the company CEO to make it happen. 

FIB WIRE – Have you ever met John Chambers?

Greg – I rode in an elevator once with John Chambers. He’s a great guy and even held the door open for me. He said he liked my first video even though he didn’t quite understand it. I do communicate once in a while with Virtual John Chambers by logging into his data center and using the “hello john” command. He’s a big PIP Cup Challenge fan and even logs off his communications port so he can follow some of the competitions without being interrupted.

FIB WIRE – What is the future for the world’s most interesting intern? How long are you going to continue doing this?

Greg – Now that I’m approaching middle age, I’m happy being where I am and it will be a long time before I retire. I can’t say I’ll always be an intern but no matter what I do, I’ll always strive to be the world’s most interesting example of whatever I happen to be at the time.

Note: In the year 2011, Greg Justice is living the big life in LA where he is considered the Johnny Utah of Twitter. He had nothing to do with this interview and for the moment he is blissfully unaware of his real future.

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