The Publishing Post
BAME Internship At SAGE Publishing: An Interview
By Miya Elkerton and Kayley Stanbridge
This week, the publishing hopefuls’ team got the chance to speak with Mandy Gao about her recent year-long internship with SAGE Publishing, an educational resources publisher. With opportunities within the industry opening back up again, we thought it would be useful to hear from a hopeful who landed a long-term internship with a publisher to learn from her experiences and motivate ourselves to apply for the opportunities that are out there.
Mandy was offered a year-long internship in the Books editorial department as part of the BAME internship programme and was promoted after nine months! She found the work environment at SAGE Publishing to vary depending on the department you worked in. During the course of the internship, Mandy undertook rotational weeks in the departments of production, marketing, sales and IT. She personally found that departments such as marketing and production were much more relaxed and less ‘corporate’ than the other departments that she worked under. Because of this, Mandy felt that her extroverted personality was a better fit for the more relaxed department, rather than where her placement began in editorial.
When asked whether the role was what Mandy expected it to be once she had started the internship, Mandy admits that she wasn’t sure what to expect as she had no idea what a publishing role consisted of prior to her application as she secured this role after only one publishing-related application. However, Mandy felt that the role was not wildly different from what she had anticipated in a workplace. She found her position to require a lot of administrative work in regard to author communications and manuscript checking such as communicating with authors via email to ensure deadlines were met. During this work experience, Mandy also completed tasks such as reviewing chapters for commissioning editors, conducting research on subject lists, managing course popularity for sales departments and contacting lecturers for endorsements and reviews.
From this internship at SAGE Publishing, Mandy feels that the key skills that she learnt were communication and time management. Mandy told us how the role she undertook in the editorial department was all about communicating with authors, lecturers and editors. Therefore, time management was important as she was often working on multiple projects for different book lists and each had different deadlines.
We also asked Mandy whether she felt that there was a steep learning curve when you start a role in the publishing industry for the first time and personally Mandy felt there was. She feels that a lot of people try to ‘glamourise’ the publishing industry, especially editorial, without actually realising how high-pressure and underpaid the job is. From this experience at SAGE, Mandy learnt that publishing still has a long way to go in terms of diversity across all groups. Her experience of the industry has taught her to persevere in her mission to make the industry more inclusive. Because of this knowledge and other learnt skills, Mandy feels that the experience was very valuable. She admits that all work experiences and internships are valuable, no matter how good they are in hindsight. This experience has provided her with first-hand insight into what the publishing industry is actually like, especially since it is so often labelled one of the most difficult industries to break into.
Mandy also told us how she became interested in working in the publishing industry as she spent time, like many young people, weighing out her career options and had always been intrigued by the mystique of publishing and its notorious reputation of being a difficult industry to get into. She was also demystified by the industry’s stereotype as one that is very white and middle-class, something that she admits is very much still true. Therefore, Mandy applied to the SAGE internship for the BAME application in the hopes of breaking the industry stereotypes.
During her internship, Mandy was promoted to Digital Content Assistant – a role in which she ensures that the online websites that accompany SAGE books are created in time with the book’s publication. Since this promotion, Mandy tells how she has thoroughly enjoyed this role and is still curious about the editorial process of books.
A special thanks to Mandy for speaking with us regarding her experience at SAGE Publishing and her new role as a Digital Content Assistant. Her success only further proves that it is possible to break into the industry, achieve a valuable and worthwhile internship and even secure a job on the back of it.