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5 Things You Should Do to Turn Your Publishing Internship Into a Full-Time Job

You’ve sent in your resume, aced the interview, and landed the publishing internship you’ve always dreamed of. Now what? If you’re looking to turn your internship into a full-time gig, it’s important to make yourself stand out—in addition to learning and having fun, of course! As a prior-intern-now-full-time-Swoon/F&F/Square Fish-editorial assistant, I’ve compiled a list of short, but sure-fire ways to make the most of your publishing internship and land your first publishing job!

1. Be professional and prepared

You probably did some research on the company before going in for your interview, but maybe you didn’t know who or which imprint you’d be working for. Before your first day, refresh your memory by doing additional research on the list of titles you’ll be working on, especially if you’re interning for a specific imprint. Different companies have different cultures, organizational structures, and etiquette, so do your homework beforehand—even if this means reading several books that your team has published. It’s also beneficial to stay on top of the latest news and trends from sites like Publishers Weekly and Publishers Marketplace. This will make you more knowledgeable, confident, and even set you apart as an intern who is passionate about not only the books, but how the industry is evolving.

2. Take advantage of your environment

Don’t just collect books, collect advice. In addition to developing a strong relationship with your supervisor, ask others about their path to their current position. Take a coworker from a different department out for coffee. From my experience, most publishing professionals are willing to do informational interviews with an intern who expresses even a slight interest in learning about various aspects of the industry. The publishing world is small, so it’s important to build a network early on. You might even find a mentor outside of your work circle who is willing to offer advice, guidance, and support without being directly asked. While you’re at it, get to know the other interns. You might be coworkers one day!

3. Volunteer to do more than you’re asked

Publishing folks are busy, trust me. From handling administrative work, such as printing agendas, taking phone calls, and mailing books, to reading submissions, creating marketing strategy, designing covers, and scheduling author tours, everybody is pretty slammed at work. If you find yourself with downtime, explore different ways to assist around the office. This could be anything from helping shelve books to proofreading tip sheets (even blogging, as our lovely Swoontern does for us!) Just ask around; at least one person will be thankful for the extra work you’ve done.

4. Be flexible and open-minded — but also proactive!

My biggest piece of advice for a publishing intern is to not have any expectations going into the internship. Come ready to learn as much as possible, letting the experience change and develop you as it may. I started my internship thinking I wanted to be a frontlist, adult editor. Today, I work in children’s, overseeing the editorial and production processes for our paperbacks. It’s important to keep in mind that all aspects of the job are worth learning about, especially the tasks that don’t seem as stimulating or exciting at first. Keep an open mind and expose yourself to what you’re afraid of. As an intern, there are far fewer risks associated with taking chances, so trust your instincts. If you have a great idea, go for it!

5. Keep in touch

If you take one thing away from this post, it’s that the publishing industry is small. Odds are, someone knows someone who knows someone you used to work with—so it’s really important to stay in touch with publishing people (A.K.A. don’t just fall off the face of the earth once you’ve completed your internship). Ask about that book you did ARC mailings for, shoot the editor a quick congratulatory email if it’s finally pubbing. People will surely remember the intern who not only keeps up with the projects they worked on, but is thoughtful enough to reach out to others who contributed as well.

Got any questions about publishing internships? Comment below!

Author spotlight

Erin Siu

Book lover, music geek, Californian. Always falling for books about multicultural experiences, family relationships, and first love.

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