Publishing Trendsetter is a production of Market Partners International and Publishing Trends.

Internship or Job? Book-Job Boot Camp, Week 1

We’re off to the races! We hope you’ll accompany Jake on his job-finding journey over the next few weeks, and hope he and you both have very good luck.

Arrow split 2 ways

An important thing to evaluate before (or as) you set out on the great Publishing Entry Adventure, is how your experience and skills fit in with the current industry climate. That doesn’t mean, “The economic upswing is slow and publishers are reeling from falling book sales and digital, so no matter what my only hope is an unpaid internship.” What you—and Jake—will need to evaluate is more what kind of flexibility you should build into your job search plan.

Questions to ask yourself:

How many years in book business of any kind do I have?
Jake has several years of experience in book retail—at what might be the nation’s two most-recognized independent booksellers. This is a strong factor in his favor, and one he should make the most of in resume and cover-letter writing. Have you been a library volunteer? That counts, too. (We’ll talk about resumes and cover letters tomorrow and Wednesday).

How much experience with do I have in publishing?
Jake hasn’t had an internship or job with a publisher, but is in a unique place of having direct contact with publishers and doing business with them during his time at Powell’s. This is a thing he can try to highlight, and might make him a more viable candidate for a full-time job with a publisher right off the bat. (You can read much more about Jake in the Q&A he did with us last week.)

Do I have the resources to do a 3-6 month (most likely unpaid) internship?
If you’ve never had any kind of publishing internship, your chances for being considered for a job may be slim, given that even serial interns can have trouble competing for in-house jobs. If you have great book-biz experience in another sector like Jake, the way to really make it shine might be with one good internship–but you can apply for these even as you keep applying to jobs.

What you can do today

At this point, you should be reading through all the internship and entry-level listings there are, not with the immediate intention of applying, but to really take in the way publishers describe themselves and trends or contrasts in what they want from applicants.

The creme de la creme for publishing (and book biz) jobs and internships are Publisher’s Lunch (from Michael Cader and the folks at Publishers Marketplace) and BookJobs, (from the AAP). Bookjobs is especially key for those of you seeking internships, as they have a section just for internship listings (Trendsetter’s Fall 2011 intern listing is up there now!).

Now, after reading LOTS of different descriptions, try to fit your specifics into the wording of different job listings—just as a thought experiment. Like, “This publisher asks for someone who will keep track of publicity mailings… I had 2 years of doing that as assistant to the dean of my college in my work-study job.” Then list some specific tasks you completed outstandingly. This all sets you up to make an excellent resume.

That’s handy, seeing as excellent-resume writing is exactly what we have on the roster for tomorrow.

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