Student guest post: For internships, think small

Students in JOMC 457, Advanced Editing, are writing guest posts for this blog this semester. This is the 13th of those posts. Ashley Russell is a junior at UNC-Chapel Hill who is majoring in editing and graphic design. She hopes to become a book editor when she graduates in the spring of 2013.

Are you on the hunt for the perfect summer internship to complement your major? Or are you bummed because you didn’t get an interview for the big editing or publishing companies in New York? Well, as it turns out, your alternative plans could be better for you than your dream summer internship with HarperCollins (not that getting your dream internship is necessarily a bad thing).

As a junior, I know all about searching for that senior summer internship that will help your resume when you start applying for jobs. However, sometimes finding a smaller company can be just the right thing for you.

That’s what happened to me. I had searched the University Career Services website for hours every week to no avail. Every internship that I could possibly apply for was in some big city and unpaid. Unfortunately, I can’t afford to go to New York City and live without a steady income. Factor in 40 hours of an internship a week, and that leaves little time to work elsewhere to pay for it all.

Fortunately for me, my combing of the UCS website paid off with an internship at Technical Information Publishing Solutions, or TIPS. TIPS is a publishing company in Carrboro. It is less than a mile away from my house, and I had never heard of it. TIPS works with companies to create and edit books. One of the main companies that TIPS works with is W.W. Norton, better known to college students as the creator of Norton anthologies.

Most people come back from internships at big companies and talk about how they didn’t do much more than make a bunch of photocopies and run errands. I am almost at the end of my internship, and I have learned so much. I have learned all about the process of book publishing and what it entails. With such a small office of only three full-time workers, TIPS offers an environment that is conducive to learning, which is what an internship is all about.

Although an internship with a big company may look great on a resume, it is not necessarily the best way to get the best experience possible. Working in a small organization allowed me to learn about every aspect of book publishing and allowed me to hone my skills even more.

Plus, as a UNC-Chapel Hill student, you have so many options. There are many small publishing companies and presses within a 25-mile radius (including Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, University of North Carolina PressDuke University Press and Oxford University Press) that can offer students the opportunity to gain and polish their skills with publishing. Sometimes a smaller company can be the best place for you to grow.


One Comment

  1. I’d like to add to this list and recommend that aspiring trade book editors also consider nontraditional internships, such as a web editing co-op with IBM developerWorks. A summer spent working with the editing team at RTP is an outstanding (and handsomely paid) opportunity to get real experience working with authors, editing tools, and various publishing processes, regardless of whether you see yourself in technical editing down the road.

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