This post is not here to show off and I hope it doesn’t read like it is.
Last year, I wrote about my experience at Macmillan and S&S. I had tried several times to find a post about interning and found nothing. So I wrote about my experience, hoping it’d give an individual a better idea than what I had.
Today I want to share some of my thoughts about finding work experience. And to give you the encouragement that I’ve been given by others. A plan on how to begin.
Before I started, I knew no one. My family aren’t a reading or book kind of family. And that is not at all a disadvantage. I want to show you that you can ‘make it’ if you have no initial connections. It’s down to you to push through because what I’ve learnt is that the journey is long and slow but it is totally and utterly worth it!!
~ I want to provide everything I have experienced and what has worked for me thus far. In my current position, I am hoping that when I graduate I can begin to seek a paid job. That would be amazing!
My Advice #1 ~ Start early. Even if you can’t do any work experience because you are too young, don’t worry. Go to events – this is equally as important. Ask to volunteer at events. Be involved, be interested. Talks are always a good one to attend. Throw yourself into places where you have to socialise and get used to talking to others. Learn to introduce yourself. Very important. Remember to say your name!
This might sound a little extreme but in November 2015, I started the work experience search. I wrote down a list of all the publishing houses that offer work experience. I wrote down those who do it via social media and those that do it through an email. This is a step is an always. Even if it’s the same ones that I applied for last year, I check their sites again. They do change now and then. So check check check.
I ended up with about two months of work experience (two weeks at Penguin Random House Children’s, four weeks at HarperCollins Children’s and a final two weeks at Scholastics), with a week break between each of them.
My Advice #2 ~ Start looking either a bit before Christmas or the beginning of the New Year. Don’t underestimate the time it takes to research and then write a cover letter for each house. You can get lucky and land something via social media last minute, but I strongly recommend you double up the chances by also emailing the publishing house. But ensure your cover page is only a page long. If you haven’t heard back, try again at Easter. Sometimes people cancel. ~
My Advice #3 ~ So far honesty has gotten me through my cover letters. Show off what you’ve done, tried to do and want to do. Be enthusiastic, show your personality. Sell yourself! You’re requesting on top of hundreds of people, why are you better?? (Because you are better!) For better advice head to Publishing Intern, where they have an amazingly beautiful and in-depth post about how to write a cover letter with professional advice!
Breaking down my work experience at each house, my journey/experience and more advice/tips!
Penguin Random House Children’s (A Spontaneous One)
They publish my all time favourite YA author Sarah Dessen, my YA queen.
I was getting desperate, especially since I had only got one solid placement. I was determined to get my coursework in early and start Summer asap, especially if it meant I could apply for placements at PRH. There was a role in editorial, which I initially applied for but didn’t get. The following week, there was another for children’s marketing and publicity and I applied.
I liked how during my first week I met another intern who was on their last week and they showed me round. Once they had finished, another intern came and I then had to pass on what I’d learnt on my first week. I really loved how it was set up. Not only do you get to know the PRH team but you also get to meet more interns. And meeting people on the same level me is my favourite part.
The approach was new to me with the aims towards libraries and schools but I was opened up a lot of creativity during my last week. The team were lovely as ever and getting checked up on made me feel more than just a random intern.
My Advice #4 ~ Share ideas and methods on how to get things done effectively and efficiently. Don’t take on the full weight and say when it gets too much! Take advantage of having another person, if you have someone else. Go sit somewhere that isn’t your desk when working with someone else, take a break from the screen. Most importantly, take breaks. ~
HarperCollins Children’s (Another Spontaneous One)
After PRH, I was on a break and I saw an internship for 4 weeks at HarperCollins. It was an application opened on the Wednesday, deadline was up til working hours. And I found out that evening! I was completely gobsmacked.
Side note: Veronica Roth is published by HarperCollins. That’s right, VRoth! And yes, I have a nickname for her. But guys, Divergent!
During my time here, it really helped solidify my hopes to work in the publicity department. Hearing parts of conversations about events and creating documents and general admin got me excited. Which is so lame.
My Advice #5 ~ Connect with others. Always. It’s the best advice I’ve been given and I stuck with it since I got it last year. Before you leave the office, ask to sit down with someone who works in the office. Ask them anything and everything. Learn and get inspired. It’s what has pushed me forward when I feel a bit down. Thank them. ~
This is the first (and only) work experience that I have done that is totally free. I got nothing for travel or food. This is clearly stated when you apply but at this stage I don’t mind doing it for free.
*cough cough* And Maggie Stiefvater is published by them *cough*.
These two weeks were the most tiring out of the three. I found myself rotating around the office, taking a different department each day and with that came introducing myself to new people. It was hugely draining and difficult for me as I find it painfully difficult to settle. But the whole office is so lovely that I felt sad to leave at the end.
But it was really interesting to discover how everything comes together. Before this point, much of what I knew about the process was told to me through someone’s words so actually seeing and listening to conversations gave me a little more of an insight.
My Advice #6 ~ If you’re not sure about what each department does in the book industry, I recommend testing the waters at Scholastic. Even if you do not want to do children’s it will give you an overview. There will be similarities. But at least you’ll get to experience and see what you like rather than reading/listening to something and then deciding.
All in all, it is a journey that comes with a huge amount of luck and right timing. I have experienced this during my time at HarperCollins when the other intern bled into a 6 month internship at HarperNonFiction. Perfect timing. But be their personal cheerleader for those seeking jobs and be the encouragement for those waiting for their time to come. Because in the end, you can’t get a job yet. (Well, I can’t yet!)
I really want to encourage everyone. If you want to get into book publishing do it. Start. It’s terrifying and awkward. It’s stressful. But I absolutely love it and that is thanks to everyone I meet along the way. I have no idea what I’m going to do now that I’m actually officially free.
Pretty sure I’ve forgotten how to relax.
Also pretty sure I’ll be keeping my eyes peeled for more internships…
What has my life become? I’m addicted.