Where do you go from here? From Intern to Industry Professional

By Lisa-Marie Wilson

It’s a tough question to know what you do after you’ve graduated and for myself the route was a bit rocky. An internship that was less educational than I had hoped, fall out after completing the Ryerson Publishing program, and a job in finance in a completely different industry that I hated and a string of interviews that ended with ‘we’re looking for someone with more paid experience’ lined a few tough and depressing years. But looking back, it was all worth it.

To shatter expectations: It’s harder than you were ever told. My internship felt at the time like a godsend, but in retrospect felt more like a joke. I had made some wonderful contacts and learned more about the publishing process, but I was not a part of it.

But don’t despair! The publishing certificate offered some more hope and by far the most rewarding aspect of joining the program were the people I met. Industry professionals and recent graduates alike were excited and interested in publishing. There wasn’t competition but a general sense of yearning where we all wanted in. Those who already had positions in the industry helped those who didn’t and meeting fellow students who are now colleagues later in my career has been one of the most heartwarming aspects a professional program can offer.

It took dedication and a realization that these are courses that can help you prepare but are no substitute for real world experience. After two years of taking two courses each term (don’t forget that summer term) I had a certificate, fantastic friends, professional contacts that would remember me and a better idea of what I was getting myself into. And who could forget the job/internship mailing list: If you have no foot in the door this is how you get it.

The mailing list, the people I met in the program, determination and strangely enough Twitter led me to where I am today: full time technology/marketing assistant with Master Point Press. It’s an extremely small operation but they are wonderful to work with and here I have a hand in nearly every part of the publishing process. In my spare time I freelance as a publicity and public relations manager with comic book publishing in the states.

What can my experiences tell you?

Never, ever, for any reason stop trying. I applied to jobs before the internship, before I started my professional certificate, during and after completion. I volunteered at many different publishing events, talked with professors and friends in the program and never stopped trying. It was a difficult industry to broach 10 years ago and today traditional publishing is shrinking. This is no industry for the faint of heart but those that make it love it. That and always try to talk to those in the same boat. No one else can sympathize, gripe, laugh and cry with you like those suffering and succeeding in the same situation you’re in. So where do you go from here? That’s up to you and what you are willing to put into it.