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  • Writer's pictureThe Publishing Post

Upskilling Tips for Internships

By Tanvi Jaiswal, Misha Manani and Georgia Stack

The publishing industry provides a plethora of work opportunities with a particular focus on internships. These stem from conglomerate and independent publishers with the chance to learn first-hand about the industry and connect with those around you. These internships can be competitive, so it is important to know how to stand out! We have interviewed Dr David Barker from the University of Derby and provided a list of resources for you to explore when searching for an internship.

In Conversation with Dr David Barker, Programme Leader for MA Publishing

Photo by David Barker

I currently run the MA Publishing programme at the University of Derby. Between 1996 and 2017, I worked in publishing as an editor, editorial director and publishing director at Continuum and Bloomsbury Academic, in New York and London. During that time, I looked at thousands of entry-level job applications and interviewed dozens of candidates for a range of editorial roles.

What are your tips for CVs and Cover Letters?


It can be helpful to have any kind of publishing work experience or internship, as well as the commitment demonstrated by undertaking a BA or MA course in publishing or a related field.

Any kind of office work or customer service experience can be helpful, too. More importantly, though, you need to make absolutely sure that the roles, qualifications and skills outlined on your CV match up as closely as possible with the desired or expected skills listed in the job ad for which you are applying.

There is considerable overlap between entry-level roles in publishing and many will be looking for similar skills such as attention to detail, time management, exceptional written and spoken English, certain software capabilities, etc.

Cover Letters

For cover letters, again, you need to tailor each one to the role advertised. The crucial thing here is to demonstrate your passion for and knowledge of this particular publisher, this particular imprint and this particular team. It's not enough to say that you really want to work at X imprint because you love the books they publish.

You need to research them properly: talk about a recent book of theirs you admire or love; talk about their frontlist; talk about a recent award that one of their authors or team won.

What according to you, would be the Do’s and Don’ts in an interview?

Do’s: Even if you are nervous (everybody is, don't worry), try to exude positivity about the role and how much you want it. The worst possible result is for the interviewer to be unsure whether you really want the job or not. I remember so many interviews like that! Think of it from a recruiter's perspective: it can be a real hassle to go through all the CVs and cover letters and set up a round of interviews to find that six months down the line, the person they hired was only using the job as a stop-gap until a better role came up. The best hires are the people with genuine passion and enthusiasm for the role.

Dont’s: Don’t come unprepared! I used to be so impressed by candidates who came to the interview with a list of questions about the role, team and company. You are not expected to know everything about the job and what it entails, but it shows a lack of commitment if you don't have questions at the end of an interview.

What makes a cover letter stand out or get rejected in those first five seconds?

It makes a huge difference if you nail the first paragraph of your cover letter. Talk about them (the job, the company, the imprint, the team), before you talk about yourself. If you can make the person reading your cover letter think, "OK this applicant has really done their research and it looks like they genuinely get what we do here," then that's half the battle already.

Top Resources

Creative Access: It advertises internships and also offers communities from under-represented backgrounds the chance to join an Entry Support Programme after securing them, helping to increase confidence in the workplace!

ellesbellesnotebook: Ellie Pilcher’s blog has a “Publishing Hopefuls Toolkit,” packed with resources from where to find internships to writing CVs and cover letters.

Publishing Hopefuls Facebook Group: This group is exclusively for hopefuls and allows members to exchange job opportunities and tips for successful applications.

Publishers Association: The Association has a “where to find jobs” section where you’ll find a wealth of links to recruiter websites for publishing jobs at all levels – including internships!

Inspiring Interns: This website advertises publishing internships for graduates with specialities, like science, for example!

Thanks for reading Issue 47! Join us again for Issue 48, where we will be covering Upskilling Tips for the Digital Production Department.



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