Doing Tactical Internships Work Far Fetter Than Applying to Job Postings

Lots of young professionals and trainees get really nervous about contacting employers to arrange internships or to arrange employment. Like the way I put that—arranging employment? Instead of applying for it. Sounds almost empowering, doesn’t it? Not as much like the usual protocol, whereby a company creates some job and advertises it for you guys to fight over, take or leave.

That usual protocol is unnecessary. You needn’t just apply for whatever internships or jobs are on offer by the publishing companies. You should instead consider a two-step process of first arranging an internship with a company, and then, once you are interning, arranging a paid or higher-paying role.

To arrange an internship, call reception or HR to ask who manages the department that you’d like to volunteer or intern with. Then, send a polite email of just two brief paragraphs saying who you are and the kind of internship you’d like to do. You’ll definitely hear from people, especially if you’ve done your homework on what departments needs the most help.

To arrange for freelance, contract, or salaried jobs, you take advantage of being in-house as a volunteer or intern. Once you’re working in house, it’s not hard over time to develop a good relationship with one or two managers that can hire you to do the creative work you enjoy. Propose to them nicely and enthusiastically that they hire you to do more of the work they already love having you do. Turn it around.

And here’s the cool thing you’re probably not going to believe. The younger and less weighed down by conventional publishing-industry thinking you are, the better your instincts will be about what creative work will help the company most.

Many people in publishing are surprisingly open to your suggestions about hiring you for creative roles to help the company evolve. There’s never been more opportunity for young people to arrange their own jobs. I’ve heard lots of stories about young editors (I’m an editor, so I hear about editors most) setting up their own work in house, and it seems like a lot more fun to do than just battle with too many other applicants for a job you haven’t even had a part in designing yourself.

If you’d like tips on exactly how to use these approaches, read this article I wrote a year ago. I recently reread it; it’s still good advice. If I do say so myself.