Internship – Grace's Story

Grace studied English and drama at Goldsmiths, University of London and is now working as an intern at Constable & Robinson.

I officially graduated from my degree in September, but the dreaded job search has been occupying my mind since May when I handed in my final essays. Even though I achieved a high 2:1, I knew that I would need to complete an internship before even thinking about applying for a salaried job and I also knew that it wouldn’t be  simple.

I was extremely lucky to get an internship at Constable & Robinson as not only is it invaluable experience, but it is also a paid internship. Almost everybody else I know that is an intern has had to scrape by for at least three months  on expenses only, so I assumed that I would have to do that too. I worked all summer, squeezing in waitressing shifts around long hours as a supervisor at the Olympic shops and managed to save up three months rent. I had enough to do a three-month unpaid internship, but I hadn’t quite planned for what I would do after that. I figured that was what graduate overdrafts and parents were for.

I finally started applying for internships in mid-August and found it quite depressing as there was so much competition for the opportunity to work for free. I sent off what felt like hundreds of applications but received very few replies. It seems that most places want you to have work experience to secure work experience. If I could go back in time I would definitely choose work placements over the part-time job I held at university. That way I would have graduated with the necessary experience already under my belt, rather than being an expert sales supervisor at Topshop. Although I have very supportive parents, I wanted some financial independence in order to get the most out of university life in London.

I attained this position at Constable & Robinson using the age-old method of exploiting personal contacts. My writing teacher at Goldsmiths has recently had a novel published by the company and very kindly sent an email around for me. Within three days I had been in to meet with the publicity director, who asked me to start the following Monday. My main advice to aspiring interns would be to make contacts wherever you can, especially at university, and don’t be afraid to use them! When employers are bombarded with applicants for internships, having a contact provide a personal recommendation for you can really help you stand out from the crowd.

I started interning here at the beginning of October, mainly working in the publicity department but one day a week I also work on The Complete University Guide. Now that I’m here, I love it. It’s great working for a relatively small company as I have been given the responsibility to do tasks other than photocopying. Everybody is extremely welcoming and I have been lucky enough to work across varied departments, gaining experience of the publishing industry as a whole, which I’m sure will benefit me greatly. I am already liaising with authors, writing press releases and creating mailing lists and I feel enthusiastic about going to work in the morning. I am also up to my ears in books — every literature geek’s dream.

My internship experience so far has been very positive and I think that it’s a crucial part of securing post-graduation employment. My ideal outcome of this internship would be for Constable & Robinson to create a full-time position for me, although in an independent publisher financial restraints and desk-space can be a problem! Even if that doesn’t happen, I will leave this internship with fantastic contacts and hopefully a reference that will springboard me onto a career path in publishing. Fingers crossed for the future.