As I explained in the first part of this two part blog entry of mine, internships are an important part of making yourself competitive in the job industry, especially if you’re trying to get a job in book publishing, for example. One way you can apply to internships is by making a profile on a website like Internships.com, though, as I explained in my previous blog, you have to be careful about what places you apply to. Another way you can get your foot in the door with a company that you’d like to intern for is to just go knock on that door yourself. While this may sound presumptuous and a bit intimidating, it really can produce results.
I got my current internship (where I copyedit manuscripts, write blog posts, and do publishing-related research for a small self-publishing company) by Googling local businesses that did the kind of work that I was interested in. I searched “small publishers in Phoenix, AZ” and similar search terms until I found enough websites and lists of local businesses to start perusing.
When I went onto each company’s website, I checked to see if they had any information on potential job or internship opportunities. More often than not, the websites were pretty dismal as far as providing useful information goes. Many of them were not reader-friendly or just had horribly tacky designs. I took that as not such a great sign for those businesses’ success or professionalism, so I didn’t make much of an effort to contact them.
I also, of course, looked to see what their mission statements were and what kind of publishing work they did. A lot of the small publishers I found specialized in niche markets, such as Westerns or Christian books. I knew I’d be pretty miserable if I was stuck sorting through slush if it were a genre I myself would never read (not that I had much room to be picky. If I hadn’t gotten my current internship, I probably would have bitten my tongue and applied wherever I could).
After not too much searching, I found about two or three companies with decent websites, fairly realistic commutes from where I lived, and information about what they did that sounded promising. I wrote my emails with attention and care, making sure to use some of the language from their websites to show that I had read about the companies and was enthusiastic about helping them however I could. I included several samples of my own writing, drafted cover letters that highlighted my relevant experience and passion for publishing, pressed the send buttons, crossed my fingers, and waited. And waited. And waited some more.
As the weeks passed, I grew more and more panicky that nobody would get back to me and I’d be internship-less for an entire summer, or that I’d have to go scrounge around for another shady blogging or journalistic internship on Internships.com. Thankfully, one day an email popped up in my inbox from one of the companies I’d solicited. The rest is history.
Hopefully, my experiences with getting internships can show you that there are multiple ways to get an internship, and that it’s important to make sure the business you’re working for is credible and won’t take advantage of you. Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there and ask if a company is interested in hiring you as an intern even if they don’t have information on their website about it—some companies don’t know that they want you until you make yourself known to them!
Photo Credit: A Blossom Fell