So You Want to be an Intern? Hints from the newest Porcupette.

Hi everyone! Monique here, the newest Porcupette, hoping to pick up on the overwhelming, terrifying and challenging journey where Caleigh left off. I’m a recent graduate of Ryerson University’s publishing school and was also a classmate of Caleigh’s at Queen’s, where we both dipped our toes into the publishing world (and apparently couldn’t get enough!) I’m stoked to be working and blogging with PQL for the next few months!

Caleigh closed off her last post wondering how she’d never gotten around to posting about how to get an internship of your own – which seems like a great place to start since, as the newest intern at the Porcupine’s Quill, I’ve been immersed in the internship process for awhile now!

Here are a few tips I’ve gleaned from my experience so far:

1) Hold informational interviews – Networking can be terrifying, I know, but hear me out. People in publishing are very passionate about what they do (if they’re just in it for the money, they’re set for disappointment), and thus they love talking about it. You know who should love to hear about it? YOU, potential interns! Informational Interviews are a great way to learn about the industry, get advice, and make friends with someone who has already been where you are!

2)  Ask the employer directly – Internship programs are more prevalent in the US – but don’t think your favourite Canadian publisher won’t take interns just because they don’t have a super-formal internship program. If you think you have something to offer, let them know! Write an engaging, personalized cover letter (not the boring form letter they taught you in 10th grade Careers class) and show them why they should give you a chance.

3) Check out Publishing School! Caleigh went to SFU’s Book Publishing Immersion last summer (and wrote some fantastic posts about it here and here), and I took a number of courses through Ryerson, including their Summer Intensive. These are just some of the options out there for those of you who want to study publishing. It’s a great way to meet professionals in the field who moonlight as instructors (probably because they love talking about publishing – see #1!) as well as meet other people who are in the same boat as you are! Most publishing schools also have job posting email lists that forward postings for jobs and internships before they go public – and you stay on the list for at least a year after you’ve completed your courses! It’s a fantastic resource for your job/internship hunt.

3b) Meet other interns/keep in touch with your classmates – Interns tend to band together, bonding over the internship- and job-hunt, going to industry events, and comparing experiences with classes and seminars. It’s great to have a network of people to commiserate over assignments and applications with, and who share their finds from the job hunt if they see something that would suit you. While publishing is competitive, the industry is small and you’ll likely know people applying for the same positions you are, so remember be friendly about it!

4) Keep up with the industry scuttlebutt — sites like Quill and Quire, OpenBook Toronto, and GalleyCat are just three of the many sites you can use to find out what people are talking about in the industry! Job postings are always a plus, but don’t skip the event listings, which are helpful for tips #1 and #3b. Associations like CanBPA and the Editors’ Association of Canada are just a few of the professional associations where you can meet people to hold some informational interviews (#1) and take seminars (#3) and, of course, get the scuttlebutt. There is a great list of book-related associations on the Book and Periodical Council’s website here.

4b) Don’t forget about social networking! There is an extensive list of book industry people on twitter through First Issue Blog and many publishing houses have their own twitter feeds (like @porcupinesquill…hint hint!) and facebook pages.  I’ve noticed that publishing types are very active in social media and it’s a great way to get instant info about what’s got people talking.

*Important note: If you intend to make publishing your career, and you want to network through things like facebook and twitter with potential employers, you may want to take a good hard look at what you’ve been posting. Employers, Admissions Officers, and all sorts of people use your profile to get a first impression of you — being careless with your web presence will be a buckshot to the foot of your career.

I am by no means an internship expert, and these are just a handful of tips to get started with, but I hope that helps some of you as you’re looking to get started in the industry!

Dear readers, what are looking to see in Letters from the Porcupette? Do you have any burning questions about the industry? Curiousities about our books and their authors? Queries about the publishing process? More questions about internships? I’m open to questions, so let me know! You can email me, post to our facebook page, or tweet at us (@porcupinesquill).

That’s all for this week! As Caleigh would say, Porcupette out!


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One Response to So You Want to be an Intern? Hints from the newest Porcupette.

  1. Bruce McLeod says:

    Porcupine’s Quill sounds like just “the Thing” for you Monique, adventure in the rudiments of old-style hands-on publishing.Loved your blog! See you at Easter
    L O V E


The Porcupine's Quill would like to acknowledge the support of the Ontario Arts Council and the Canada Council for the Arts for our publishing program. The financial support of the Government of Canada through the Canada Book Fund (CBF) is also gratefully acknowledged.