Even though many jobs in the publishing industry are advertised as ‘entry-level’, there seems to be an unspoken prerequisite in many of these jobs that candidates should have some experience in the industry to be seriously considered. Part of what made the MSc Publishing course at Napier so appealing to me was its vocational focus, and in particular, the opportunity to get a placement at a publisher. However, Covid-19 has thrown a spanner in the works, and on more than one occasion I was told by a publisher that they weren’t taking on any interns this year due to the pandemic.

Not being too rigid in the internships I was applying for was really important

The panic about not getting a placement quickly set in as I was well aware that the number of prospective applicants far outweighed the placements available. I decided to broaden my parameters of who I was applying to, which initially started as being purely commercial publishers, and began to apply for educational and academic publishers as well. Not being too rigid in the internships I was applying for was really important as I was lucky enough to get a placement not long after at an educational publisher. If I hadn’t changed the types of publishers I was applying to, I wouldn’t have gotten to see a side of the industry I hadn’t considered before which ended up being really interesting.

I was informed that the internship would be taking place virtually, which seemed to be the done-thing as a result of the pandemic, with 69% of employers offering their internships either completely virtually or with a hybrid-approach. Although I had looked forward to my first taste of being immersed in an actual publishing environment, I was still really excited for the opportunity to actually get some hands-on publishing experience! My experience within my internship over the last ten weeks has had some amazing opportunities. I was given the responsibility of proofreading a manuscript before it went to press. I helped the marketing manager create a month’s worth of content for the social media channels, and I got to experience the different editorial stages whilst working on proofs! It has been really helpful in giving me an insight of what working in a publishing company is like whilst confirming for me that this is the type of work that I want to do.

However, the experience did have some difficulties. After sending the work I had completed back to the publisher, I received no feedback on what I had done. I got a kind ‘thank you’ but no evaluation of the quality of my work. This was disheartening as I was unsure whether the work I was doing was correct or even useful, and wanted to improve as much as possible during my time with them.

In the first couple of weeks, I didn’t say anything as I didn’t want to come across too demanding. But after I had proofread a lengthy manuscript on a tight deadline and didn’t hear anything back about it, I composed an email as politely as possible, asking whether I could receive some feedback and whether what I had done had been used. Luckily, I had nothing to worry about. After I asked, they were really forthcoming with the feedback, explaining that my proofreading was really helpful and that I had picked up on things the actual proofreader didn’t pick up on. It was a valuable lesson in being as forward as you need to be while interning, as the whole reason you are there is for your own development, and feedback is a huge part of that.