Editor’s Note: This post is by Emma Brink. Emma is an Assistant Editor at Wiley. A past SSP Early Career grant winner, she currently serves on SSP’s Professional Development Committee and co-chairs SSP’s Early Career Task Force. You can attend her panel, “The Future of Scholarly Communication According to the Professionals Who Will Shape It” at this year’s SSP Annual Meeting in May.”
After my ten month internship at Wiley, my mother sent me this link on the Huffington Post: “17 Incredibly Successful People Who Started as Interns”. It came with a typical message of motherly affection: “See? Wasn’t it all worth it?” Eventually we realize our mothers are always right.
I started as an Editorial intern in Wiley’s Health Sciences journals program in October 2012. After graduating with an English Literature degree in May 2012, I spent months looking for jobs, any job, in publishing. Truthfully, I didn’t even consider internships as an employment possibility. All of my friends had jobs lined up post-graduation, and I felt insecure for not having my life “figured out.” I decided instead to settle on a location and go from there, so I moved to Boston and stumbled across a paid, full-time Editorial internship at Wiley. I spent ten months interning in the same department where I work now as an Assistant Editor.
I cannot say enough good things about my internship experience. There was nothing “Devil Wears Prada” about it. I was not asked to make coffee or pick up anybody’s lunch. I was not asked to make endless copies or manage anyone’s travel. I was treated like a full-fledged employee, and better yet, my internship was treated as educational experience. Everyone made sure to answer all of my questions, to stop by after meetings and presentations and break down what was discussed. It was a group effort to make sure I was fully integrated into the team and the company. I’ve heard that many publishing companies do not offer formal training programs, so my internship was an opportunity for a crash course on all things Wiley.
Internships are a great opportunity to be introduced to the publishing industry and an entry point into a company that interests you. I wish I had considered them sooner! But internships offer more than just a foot in the door. They provide real, hands-on experience in a specific field without the full employment commitment. You can take the time to think, is this really what I want to do? Am I enjoying this work? Should I look in another direction? You also get the chance to familiarize yourself with the company and the people before becoming a regular employee. This will give you the best sense of whether the company is the right fit, which you can rarely tell from an interview.
An internship will also help you understand whether your strengths and skills are the best match for the company. Are your talents helping the company? Does this work make you feel fulfilled? Could your talents be best used elsewhere? More than direction and experience, internships also provide you with confidence. If you really take advantage of the value and educational opportunity of your internship, you can use the knowledge you’ve gained to position yourself as the best candidate for open positions. After an internship, the assimilation phase that comes with a new job shrinks to almost nothing because you already feel like part of the team and have a clear grasp on what you’re doing.
Yes, internships are often unpaid (and even when they are, it’s no salary). But internships are a great résumé-builder, especially in publishing. More than that, companies seemingly love to hire interns because of all the skills, knowledge, and experience their interns have already gained. When I look around at my team and friends at Wiley, almost half of them started as interns. And it’s worth it. It’s a small sacrifice financially for the potential of a great career. And besides, Ramen is delicious!
For employers who are looking to hire interns, I really valued the considerable thought put into the structure of my internship program. Aside from training, my colleagues took the time to outline the organization of the company, define industry terms, offer outside reading, break out after presentations and meetings to explain why the topic is important, and introduce me to the wider office. My internship program offered meals with different departments, guest speaker lunch events, and résumé and cover letter writing training. These tools and experiences are worthy investments when they provide your company with a fully-trained, knowledgeable, and enthusiastic employee right off the bat. An ideal internship is ultimately an educational experience, so be a teacher. In short, ask not what your interns can do for you, but what you can do for your interns! Consider how you can provide the best experience for them.
There are several benefits to offering an internship program at your company. Interns provide more than cheap (or free!) labor. Interns are trying their mightiest to get that job, so they will come to work for you with an enthusiastic attitude, eager work ethic, and genuine interest in the company. Often this interest leads to great loyalty to the company that jumpstarted their career. Interns also ask challenging questions. Because it’s meant to be an educational experience, interns are generally encouraged to be thoughtful about the work they are doing and ask questions about the business. This in turn forces you, as the employer and role model, to provide equally thoughtful answers. This may challenge you to think about your work in a different way and reflect on its value.
Now, how to find each other! If you are a job seeker looking for an internship in publishing, they are out there! And many companies offer multiple internships across various departments. SSP, of course, has an internship page that posts a wide range of internship offerings in scholarly communication. This is a great place to start and see what companies are in the internship arena. Some other valuable sites to search include:
You can also look at local job posting sites, which is how I found my internship at Wiley (Bookbuilders of Boston). Another great way to search is to start with the company. If you are interested in a specific company, head over to their Careers site and look at their job board. If you are truly interested in that company, saying so helps!
If you are an employer, being visible and advertising your internship program as broadly as possible will really help those looking to find you. Posting internship positions on multiple sites, not just your own, will help attract the brightest pool of candidates. Ultimately this will help you just as much as it will help your applicants. Once you have found each other, everybody wins!