If you’re interested in doing a summer publishing internship, it’s time to start looking! The application deadlines for many internships are late (read: May), but some are being advertised now, and Penguin’s application deadline is the end of February! If you’re not already updating your resume and writing cover letters, here are some tips on finding internship opportunities.
Editorial internships tend to be the most popular, but stay open to opportunities in other departments, such as marketing, publicity, social media, or design.
Note: This post is focused primarily on publishing house and literary agency internships, but the advice can doubtless be applied to various fields.
Check Internship Listings
There are tons of places to find internship listings, but if you check these websites, you’re likely to find most internship opportunities.
*Bookjobs isn’t always updated. Be sure you’re applying to internships for this specific year and season. However, even if you do find a 2012 internship posted, you might want to follow it up by going to the publisher’s/literary agent’s website and seeing if they have a more recent opportunity listed there. Also, check the Bookjobs links for both internships and jobs; there will be internships posted in both.
Go Directly to the Source
Sometimes publishers or literary agencies don’t advertise their internships on external websites. Be sure to visit their company pages directly and either search “internships” or find the “careers” pages. Often, internship opportunities are listed along full-time jobs.
I never tried this tactic myself, but I’ve read blog posts by former publishing interns who claimed to have emailed literary agents asking for the opportunity to intern with them—when the agency was not even advertising internships. If you’re assertive enough to take this approach, it might be worth a try. I assume, at worst, you’ll either receive no response or an emailed rejection.
Just be sure to briefly highlight in in your query email why you would be qualified to work for them, and (if it’s true!) mention that you would be eligible to receive college credit in exchange for such an internship. That way, they won’t have to worry about paying you. (Unpaid internships are a controversial topic right now, but, remember, you’re pitching yourself for a position that doesn’t even exist. Reminding them that creating an internship for you isn’t going to cost them any money can only be a plus.)
Although I was blogging when I applied for my first editorial internship, I wasn’t using Facebook or Twitter for my blog. Since then, I have joined a lot more social media sites, and I have noticed literary agents, indie publishers, and major publishers advertising internship opportunities through these sites. Many major publishers have career-specific Twitter accounts that you can follow to stay connected. (ex. Penguin, Simon & Schuster, Macmillan) Other times, you’ll just have to follow publishers and literary agents and wait for opportunities to show up randomly in your feed.
A word of warning: I have seen some advertisements for internships show up this way that include little to no information on the positions—even if they link to an actual blog post or website that should give details. All they say: “We’re seeking a marketing intern! Contact us!” Before going through the entire process of writing a cover letter, I recommend getting in touch with the internship coordinator and ascertaining a few facts: when the internship starts, how long it lasts, whether it is paid, where it is located. (Seriously, why do people expect me to apply for a position without telling me whether it’s in New York, San Francisco, or telecommuting? If you’re responsible for one of these ads and reading this post, please go fix it!)
Need More Advice?
Check out my previous posts on getting an editorial internship and what I learned from my editorial internship. Also, come back in March for a post on the interview questions I have encountered!
If you have a question about something I haven’t addressed, or you have advice for would-be interns, please leave a comment below!
3 thoughts on “Finding a Publishing Internship”
This is very helpful! Is it possible or incredibly difficult to get a job in publishing without having an internship first? (I’m changing careers.)
My guess is you can do it if you know someone in the industry who will give you a job. Publishing is a highly competitive field so, if you don’t have any relevant work experience, you’ll need to network. But you would also need to network even with an internship, so I guess my answer is…network. Good luck with your search!
I agree with Krysta. I’ve met some people in publishing who did switch into the career, and it frequently does seem to be a matter of knowing someone or doing something like a summer certification course. The problem is that there are so many applicants and so many of them have lot of qualifications–multiple internships, a publishing certificate, etc. It’s possible to have four internships and still not get a job. I guess I’d just say that the jobs are competitive in general, but if you have relevant experience even from a different career (like copy editing experience or office experience, since entry-level jobs tend to be more admin tasks than actual editing or marketing or whatever), you can leverage that and don’t necessarily need an internship. Which is good because literary agencies seem more open to older interns, but a lot of the publishing house internships are offered only for college credit, so if you’re not in college, you’re not even eligible for many of them.