My name is Brian and I am a rising junior at Northwestern University. I’m studying English (concentrating in creative writing/fiction) and classics (concentrating in Latin), and after graduation I would like to find work in the publishing industry, possibly as an editor of children’s (YA) fiction.
For this reason, I was thrilled to find an internship with Fordham University Press, a small academic publishing house in New York City. Fordham is a great fit for me: because it is so small (they have about a dozen full-time employees), I have an opportunity to see aspects of the entire publication process I wouldn’t have at a larger publishing house. I’m also doing a wider variety of tasks than I would be doing elsewhere; it seems like every day I’m doing something different. Further, Fordham publishes books I’m interested in: literary criticism, history, political science, philosophy, religion – essentially, the humanities, which I love. I’m working mainly with the editorial director and her assistant, which is perfect since editing is my first post-graduation career goal.
I found this internship a bit unconventionally. One of my professors at Northwestern has been friends for decades with the editorial director at Fordham UP; he sent my name to her, apparently with a very strong recommendation! Fordham UP doesn’t have an established internship program, so I believe I was the only applicant for a summer internship. I still went through the traditional steps of sending a resume and cover letter, and having an interview. The fact that this internship was one of the few to offer me a position (of the dozen or so places I applied to) taught me an important lesson about the power of networking.
The work I’m doing at Fordham is quite interesting. My ongoing project has been contacting authors about their books’ covers, asking if they would like to use a particular piece of art or photograph. In one instance, the author had no ideas, so I got to select the photograph that will be on the book’s cover! Besides this project, I’ve proofread a manuscript, completed forms to get subsidies from the French Ministry of Culture, prepared letters to “readers,” who evaluate upcoming manuscripts and recommend them (or not) for publication, created useful pages of sales information, filed forms with the Library of Congress, and, inevitably for any entry level position in the publishing industry, made quite a few photocopies.
I chose to intern in New York over another city partially because New York City is the worldwide hub of the publishing industry. This gives me a chance to do a little more networking while I’m here; I will be conducting an informational interview next week with a Northwestern alum at a children’s publishing house.
I had never been to New York City before this summer, so I was a bit nervous before coming here. Everything’s worked out great, though. I feel safe where I’m living (and I’m quite close to work as well), and there is so much to do in the city that I’m never bored. The hardest part was finding housing; it took me several months to find somewhere that would host me for the short period I am here (10 weeks). A lot of summer interns stay in college dorms, but I was not able to do this, partially because of NU’s quarter system: our calendar is later than other schools, so I am here until the beginning of September; no dorm would host me later than the middle of August in order to make room for their regular students. I eventually found a room in a house through sublet.com with reasonable rent and a very accommodating landlady.
Like nearly all internships in the publishing industry, my internship with Fordham is unpaid. Luckily, the Northwestern University Career Services has created the Summer Internship Grant Program (SIGP), which provides a $2500 stipend to students who have unpaid internships. It’s a fairly competitive grant, since funds are limited, but I was fortunate enough to be one of the recipients. The grant was a great relief, as it covered nearly all my rent for the summer.
Moreover, I have been pleasantly surprised by how useful the “program” part of SIGP is. Recipients need to “work” for the money, writing weekly reflections on their internships and completing extra assignments throughout the summer, such as creating a LinkedIn profile or attending a networking event. These tasks are not busywork, as I had feared, but actually quite valuable. I’m glad I’m finally a part of LinkedIn; there was useful advice at the networking event; and the reflections have helped me get more out of my internship, for example, by having me brainstorm ways to have a good relationship with my superiors.
My time here is going by extraordinarily quickly; I can’t believe I’m nearly halfway done. I know I’ve learned a lot about publishing and gained some great experiences by living in New York. I’ll be able to use many of the skills I’ve gained at school in Evanston, and my internship this summer will be an important experience in trying to find another internship next summer and a job after graduation.
About the NU Intern Blogger Program
This summer, over 50 Northwestern University students will be sharing stories about what they are experiencing at their internships from across the country and internationally. Each week new students will share an inside look at what it means to be an intern. Please contact Betsy Gill, Assistant Director, Internship Services if you have any questions.