Listed below are a few places to look for journalism or book publishing internship opportunities. These should prompt you to think of other possibilities. Don’t limit yourself. A simple online search using the term “publishing internships” will return pages and pages of search results for internships at individual publishing houses.
Some of these sites and some publishers’ websites will permit you to set up email alerts notifying you of new postings in your specific areas of interest.
I once landed an unadvertised internship by immediately following a kind-hearted literary agent’s advice to contact a specific young editor at a publishing house. Out of nowhere, I appeared on the editor’s radar at precisely the moment a new project had been approved and several assistants were needed. It was uncanny luck, and the people who made the connections were generous. More commonly, you’ll submit scores of applications to find one internship. Keep an open mind. Don’t pin all your hopes on just one company.
On your campus or at your local library, you’ll find a textbook with sample internship cover letters. Monster and other sites provide examples online, too. More companies are starting to use online fill-in forms.
Arranging reverse interviews can help, if you find your letters are not getting the responses you want. It goes without saying, but you’ll get points for making a good impression.
Consider volunteering. You can make professional connections while donating your time to local chapters of organizations such as 826® or First Book.
Day 7: “Forgot I gave it away” is more the norm, but I’ll look in the bookcases for a surprise. Thank goodness there will be physical evidence of my absent memory.
Five minutes later: Oh, right. Déjà vu. I’ve been meaning to read Train. Now, I will. Finally. And I’ll stop shelving unread books.
This is the opening paragraph of Train, Pete Dexter’s sixth novel:
At this point in the story, Packard had never fallen in love, and didn’t trust what he’d heard of the lingo (forever, my darling, with all my heart, till the end of time, more than life itself, with every fiber of my being, oh my darling Clementine, etc.). It sounded out of control to him, and messy.
Pete Dexter hasn’t written enough books. I refuse to tear through all eight, because who knows when there will be more? You know the feeling—that clutching, overkeen anticipation you experience only when the author is one of your favorites.
In 2011, Pete Dexter and Pete Hammill discussed their early careers as newspaper journalists. You can read Part I and Part II of their Q&A on the Mullholland Books blog. Both men were drawn to the work for which they’re best suited, and then years of doing the job intensified their essential qualifications for it.
Every ambitious writer is impatient to achieve these two authors’ level of expertise. A few will reach it, after decades of practice, and then understand what the effort took.