Publishing Internships

Internships are a great way to make contacts inside the publishing industry, and a great way to test-drive a possible career.

College graduates wishing to enter the publishing industry often find themselves in the old catch-22 of needing a job to get experience and needing experience to land a job. Taking an internship while still studying can offer some of the real-world experience that employers so often demand.

Internship tasks and compensation can vary, but in all cases experience and the chance to test-drive a possible career, should be considered the primary purpose.

Finding an Internship

A search for a good internship often begins with your academic institution's career placement office. You should find some good opportunities and assistance with your search there. Start your search as early as possible, especially for the highly competitive summer internships.

The Web also offers some good leads for hopeful interns. A search on the major search engines for "publishing internships" will bring up a wide selection of major houses and small independent publishers offering internship opportunities. There are also a number of search engines and job search services available that have dedicated internship listings.

You should also feel free to create your own opportunities. If you know of a publisher you'd like to work for, approach them with a proposal outlining what you have to offer them (cheap labor) and what you'd like in return. Often these self-made internships are the most rewarding.

Finding an internship isn't that much different than finding a job. Learn as much as you can about the companies your applying to, prepare a professional resume and expect an interview to determine your suitability for the position.

What You'll Be Doing

While a good publishing internship should offer more than just clerical work, that is often where a new intern will begin while the publisher gains some perspective on his or her abilities. I know of a publisher who likes to have new interns take dictation of a convoluted letter filled with difficult and unusual words, deciding how much editorial and proofreading work the intern will be given by the results.

Most internships are flexible, and can be modified to best suit your talents and future goals, as long as you ensure the publisher is aware of those goals and talents. Take advantage of every opportunity to learn more about the industry - talk to everyone you can, from the clerical staff to the editor-in-chief, and try to come away from the experience with a complete understanding of what goes on in a publishing house.

What About a Real Job?

Internships don't always lead to job offers, but if your time as an intern goes well, your odds of finding employment with the same company are greatly increased.

Some companies take on interns because they can't yet afford to expand their paid staff. These opportunities are not dead-ends and can still lead to future employment. Most publishers in such situations will be glad to offer you a referral, or even a personal introduction, to publishers who are in a position to hire you. All you need to do is ask.

Wendy J. Woudstra

Homeschool mom, coder, web developer, book lover, geek, writer, and a pretty nice person. Find out more about me at

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