I decided I wanted to go into publishing in early 2011. It was a good solution to my problems at the time. Problems like why I didn’t want to fill out arduous grad school applications and why I wouldn’t apply to law school (as members of my family fervently hoped I would).
Now when people ask me what I do I tell them “I’m trying to get into the publishing industry.” Since I made that decision two years ago, I have started attending courses in publishing at Ryerson University, and I have held two internships. But I’m still doing it: I’m still trying to get in.
Many have tried before me. In the past two years, I have met an alarming number of people who tried and failed. After I give my standard answer (“Trying to get into the publishing industry”—the delivery more tired with each iteration), I’ll often ask what the inquirer does in return. A shocking number have told me that they too tried to get into publishing, but there were no jobs. Now they work as librarians, as event planners; now they are returning to school.
These days I find myself on the outside looking in, wondering exactly where it is I am trying to get to. There is no money, they tell me. The hours are long, they say. The editorial department of a single imprint in a big firm will have ten interns a year, and in the same time the entire company will post maybe one or two jobs. There is even some doubt as to whether editing as a profession will endure (see Nancy Flight’s thought-provoking article on the subject).
People are now starting to ask me “Are you sure you want to go into publishing?” When I sit in my little cubicle at my current internship, I do pause and wonder. Where I am going? Will this road take me the right way?
I don’t have all the answers. I’m an intern—I don’t really have any answers. But this is the beginning of a short series of articles that I hope will ask all the right questions. What is it like to be an intern in the publishing industry today? What are young people facing in order to find jobs? And how can an intern survive without losing all hope?
Dispatches from an Editorial Intern is the first in a series of posts from a neophyte editor in the publishing trenches.
Next in the series: What’s in an Internship?