If you are an intern, looking to be an intern, looking to progress from intern, or want to virtually intern,
Meet one of our four interns that we are following for the next six weeks.
About me. I am in my third year studying a Bachelor of Communications. It doesn't happen often, but occasionally, I'll get so shy that I can't even sustain eye contact. My palms get so sweaty it's as if I am a nervous foreign exchange student or something. I’ve always wanted to be in publishing, even before Younger was released. In high school I started writing short stories that I hope no one ever gets their hands on, and then I moved into studying Bachelor of Communications (major in public relations) and a Bachelor of Arts (major in English Literature).
I got the internship after five emails, two cold calls and (embarrassingly) one writing submission to the publisher. Eventually, my boss Verity said that I could come in for a coffee and we could chat ‘interning’. I didn’t wear the French beret, it seemed too much; and it turns out I was right. They didn’t offer formal internships but she said I could come in for some causal work experience.
At coffee my now boss explained that she is an editorial assistant. Which means her role is essentially split into two parts – the editorial bit and the assistant bit. As an assistant to the youth fiction team she does a lot of admin – taking meeting minutes in meetings, organising diaries, scheduling freelancers, and generally keeping the team on track. The editorial part is where things get a little more exciting. That’s the part where she does desk editing and putting books into production; or making structural edits and managing and even acquiring budding authors. She’s 25. She has been there for one and a half years and was pretty frank in explaining that it’s not an easy industry to break into. Her boss said that I could come in on Tuesdays to help her out, but she was really clear in mentioning that this might not lead to a job simply because, “there isn’t any.”
She was really clear in mentioning that this might not lead to a job
Why did I take the job
I know that taking an unpaid internship at place that isn’t offering me any prospect of employment could be frowned upon. But I have no experience in the industry.
What if it is a horrible, pointless, waste of time experience? Well, put it this way, is it a failure if you ordered a dry burger at a restaurant? Would you say that you “failed” as a customer? Or would you say, “Hey, at least I tried this restaurant’s burger, but man it was dry. It was like there was sand in my mouth” and go about your day? You learned that you don’t like the brioche type of bun, or relish in lieu of tomato sauce. That’s what interning is: trying new things, seeing what you like.
Then one day you will order a burger and you will recognise why it’s good; the cheese is perfectly melted, the guacamole is tasty and the lettuce is fresh as hell. Interning is the exact same thing.
Day one and the dynamic between my boss and I
Hold on to your computer because I have a giant spoiler alert: she is intimidating, very busy and doesn’t care too much about my career trajectory.
8.30am: I arrive and text her from reception.
8.37am: The time it takes her to walk down 24 stairs to get me.
8.38am: The time it takes to walk back up them.
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This is my first look inside a real office. Think plastic tables that are joint together to make pods with pens, paper, drink bottles and apple cords everywhere.
There is a marketing meeting this morning at 9.15am that I can sit in on.
I am using a spare computer next to Verity. It doesn’t actually have all the required packages installed (e.g. word) so I download that. Verity shows me the enquiry inbox that she manages within her admin role, so I spend the first half an hour looking through the enquiries and submission questions. “I’ll get you to answer a few of those today,” she says.
9.30am: The meeting kicks off.
This is probably the most exciting thing that’s ever happened to me. People are talking about book launch schedules, external PR companies that are managing the pitch to media process, even laughing about authors and things they’ve said (because they know them on a first name basis).
Verity is furiously writing notes and people are asking her to do bits and pieces for them.
Then they chat sales. There is a sales manager to quickly runs through the margins for different tiles, this is interesting too.
10.15am: Verity shows me two things:
– A pitch letter and press release framework
– A word document filled with frequently asked questions
My first job is to reply to every email that asks questions about submission using the word documents as a guide.
“What if they ask me something that isn’t on here?”
And she is right. 95% of enquires are debating the length of submissions.
12.45pm: It’s interesting reading the submissions that are attached but I am hungry. Verity hasn’t stopped working.
I ask her if I could get lunch, she is almost embarrassed I asked.
1.05pm: I still have another 22 emails to reply to and this takes me till 3.30pm (embarrassing as they are literally carbon copy responses). I am replying and saving them as drafts, Verity said she will proof them and send them once I leave.
3.30pm: Verity is eating at her desk and I ask her a few questions about managing authors.
She manages three authors. Which means she is their point of call when they have questions about the progress of their book – no matter where it is in the process.
“Can I read their manuscript?”
3.45pm: One of their authors has a partnership with an audio distributor and they are managing the press externally. I have actually read the book (she is not impressed) however says, well that will help. She gives me the press release that the external agency is using and says I can try to ‘finesse’ some of the language and maybe the authors quote (“which is a carbon quote, anyway”) she tells me.
Oh my god, I am going to kill this.
I spend till 5.20pm reading and reading the press release and making small changes and adding things.
5.20pm: Verity tells me to go home and enjoy, says I can come in next Tuesday, “if you think you got anything from today,”
(I’ll be back verity.)
What I learnt:
It’s not easy to keep internship hope alive when they don’t really want you to be there in the first place and when it seems like your relationship with your boss is less likely than “Riverdale” being good again.
- The line between “Younger” and the actual publishing industry is pleasurably blurry— because it’s a TV show guys – but what it’s done is damage the reputation of any <25 who wants to get into the publishing industry. Day one and I get told, “I have never been to a Hamptons Book Fair, so don’t hold your breath” maybe, 25 times.
What I need:
- To stick with this for 3 months. Understand publishing, how it’s changing because of digital and audio consumption and then maybe get paid.
Stay tuned, our next intern shares their day one tomorrow.