Getting a placement is both a competitive and daunting process. Like baby birds clamouring for a morsel of attention, so does that annual influx of student-sent e-mails bring with it the noise of learning-hungry publishing hopefuls. As an international student, the first hurdle to overcome is the tone of the application e-mail.
Dear Sir/Madam?
To whom it may concern?
Hi (insert name here)?
Already here I was off to a rocky start. I will readily admit that I spent several long hours browsing the Internet to find out what would be the perfect way to write an application e-mail. Now, I wish to point out that no, the e-mails that I sent were not the actual applications for internships, they were simply the first thing a publisher would see when I reached out to them. If they did not like the tone of the e-mail, then they most definitely would not take the time to open the attached cover letter and CV.

The Cover Letter. Another beast entirely. Naturally I have written cover letters before, but only back home in Norway, where I know all the good adjectives and the right formatting and tone. Writing in English, suddenly all my alluring turn of phrase fall-backs were useless (I can assure you that there are plenty expressions that do not translate well into English).

Once the process of writing out an appealing application is completed, you’ve tailored your CV as best you can and you have, among hundreds of applicants, got an interview, the fear begins anew. I was one of the lucky ones. I applied to two places, and got an interview with the first place I applied to: Jasami Publishing Ltd. The second place I applied to never got back to me. I will be honest, having an interview with Jasami Publishing was absolutely lovely. It was the least scary and stressful interview I have ever had. Both Michèle Smith and Paula Weir, the main team behind Jasami Publishing Ltd, were chatty, friendly and informal in a way that put me at ease when trying to promote myself, my interests, my relevant experience and my passion for literature. Getting called back in for a second interview was then much less nerve-wracking. Turns out it was less of an interview and more of a
‘Welcome as an intern, what would you like to do?’
And thus, I became an intern with Jasami Publishing Ltd.

Image credit: Jasami Publishing Ltd

Jasami Publishing was founded in 2019 on the cusp of the COVID-19 crisis. The main reason I chose to apply to this publishing company was the passion they displayed for children and children’s fiction. I have always been a firm believer in children being the ones to shape the future literary market, and as such, their voices should be heard. Jasami has had a wonderful initiative during COVID: children and teenagers from different age groups have been encouraged to write their own creative work and submit it, in exchange for free books. When I saw this on my hunt for a publishing company to intern with, I was immediately drawn to their drive to promote writing and creativity in children and teenagers.

My role at Jasami has been to work as a translator for two children’s titles: Bernie the Bear You Can’t Go There! And The Life of Charlie Ryan: A Squirrel’s Tale. Now, translation is a career path that I know for a fact is incredibly hard to break into, and here I was, feeling my fair share of impostor syndrome from being given the freedom (and the power) to translate entire pieces of fiction into my native language. It was scary, to say the least. It is one thing to speak two languages fluently, and something else entirely to then translate back and forth between the languages. I was given creative freedom to write and describe the content in a way that would be understood and appreciated by a Norwegian audience, which was both freeing and daunting. Yes of course I know these expressions and the meaning of the rhymes in English. Do they have an equivalent in Norwegian? Well…yes? But also, no? And here is a partially made-up word just to throw another curveball into the mix.

I appreciated being able to take the time I wanted (and needed) to make sure that I conveyed the humour and the meanings and the feelings of the original books into Norwegian. We had a few meetings over the course of the months which helped assuage my fears—all of us translation interns were struggling together, hurray! I also got to take a few brief moments off from translating Bernie to write a blurb for Nielsen in Norwegian. When staring at rhymes for hours on end, these small things are like a heavenly respite. Strangely, even writing a dedication can put a bit of fear in you. Who knew? Rather than just being the person who made the book available in another language, I was actively taking part in the creation of a piece of literary work that would be out there for the world to see.

My name would be on the front cover and my dedication would be next to those of the author and illustrator. Me! Having your name tied to something that is being printed and published and sold is such a humbling experience. It felt like leaving a little bit of myself behind in something that would be in the hands of a stranger. In fact, what became apparent over the course of the four months that I have been interning with Jasami, is that they value each and every person who is part of the creation of literary work. Author, illustrator, editor, translator—everyone deserves respect and recognition for the hard work and dedication they put in to the product they are creating, and Jasami never failed to give credit where credit was due.