Internships: An English Major’s Firsthand Experiences, Part 1

October 18, 2016

 

Nowadays, if a college-age student wants to be competitive in the job market, one of the top recommendations they will be given is to get an internship—especially if they’re vying for a position in a super competitive industry. I know from firsthand experience how true this can be. As an English major, I know all-too-well how discouraging it can be to be in one of those majors that doesn’t have a clear-cut career path. 

 

I aspire to become an editor in the publishing industry—now, whether that means I end up as an editor with the Big Five houses (Hachette Book Group, HarperCollins, Macmillan Publishers, Penguin Random House, and Simon and Schuster) or if I embark on my journey to become a freelance editor, I’m still not sure. There are a lot of options out there, especially with the new surge of self-publishers and medium or small publishing houses out there. Right now, I’m focusing on getting as much relevant experience as I can so I can stand out among the ridiculously qualified competition I will be facing. 

 

In the spring of 2015, I started seeking out internships that would give me writing or editing experience. I created a profile on Internships.com, uploaded my resume, and began searching their database for pretty much whatever I could find that looked remotely relevant. I bookmarked dozens of possibilities and then began typing up cover letters and sending them off. Only one internship got back to me: a new startup company called Buzzanza LLC. They gave me a phone interview the CEO, and when the day came, I nervously answered his questions and laughed along and told him how thrilled I would be to write articles for their new blog. He said he’d be happy to take me on. And so I acquired my first summer internship. 

 

Buzzanza was designed to be a new social media platform for sharing news articles and media aimed at millenials. The CEO of the company wanted to create a Buzzanza blog to try to get more traffic for the site and some original millennial-themed content. That’s where my fellow interns and I came in. We were to write articles about pop culture, social justice issues, and lifestyle tips aimed at our generation. Every week, I pitched article ideas to Buzzanza’s editor, and she would either approve them or give ideas on how to make them more relevant or focused. I wrote three articles a week and saw them published on the blog. I was responsible for sharing my articles on every social media platform I was active on to get readers. 

 

While I would have preferred an internship that would have given me actual editing experience, copy writing was a great experience for me. I got to write articles about issues that mattered to me. My most popular article—which was about my frustration with Marvel’s decision to cast another white, straight male as Spiderman in the latest revamp of Spiderman—ruffled quite a few feathers on Facebook with random readers and Marvel fans who thought I was being too liberal and loudmouthed with my opinions. That was a fun experience. 

 

Unfortunately, as far as I’ve been able to tell, Buzzanza no longer exists. All of the articles that I got published—which were awesome for my professional portfolio—no longer exist as anything more than files on my laptop. I did get invaluable writing and SEO experience, but this internship ultimately taught me that you need to be careful about what internships you accept, especially if they’re unpaid. I wasn’t willing to pay the ridiculous summer tuition that I would have needed to get course credit for this internship, and Buzzanza certainly wasn’t able to pay me. While I do now have a few more references on my resume as well as a very nice letter of recommendation, my articles are lost because the company simply didn’t last. 

 

Ultimately, I have learned that Internships.com is a great way to start your internship search if you don’t know where to start, but it can be much more worthwhile to go directly to the source. In my next blog entry, I’ll discuss exactly what this means and how it helped me get my current internship with Midnight Publishing, a small self-publishing company based in Scottsdale, AZ. 

 

 

Picture Credit: nealc25

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