This spring, I landed a marketing internship at a children’s imprint of a major publishing house in New York City. I still have no idea exactly how I got so lucky. Remember that major snowstorm called Winterstorm Jonas that we had one weekend at the beginning of this semester, followed by a Monday snow day? Well, guess who was battling NJ Transit to get into the city on that blizzardy Monday for her interview…
Let me back up for one second and say that nothing, not even delayed trains and soaked dress shoes full of snow, were going to stop me from getting to this interview. I had spent the entire day studying and preparing–and yes, I really mean studying. I spent hours on the company website, studying their history and memorizing the bestseller list. As an English major, this was enjoyable studying, but studying nonetheless. I could not have been more prepared, but I was definitely nervous.
Following a thirty-minute train delay and almost having to buy a $45 Amtrak ticket instead, a train heading to NYC finally arrived. During my trek from the subway to the office, I realized I was going to be about ten minutes late–not bad considering the obstacles on my way there, but I realized that the interviewer didn’t know all the challenges I had faced and would only recognize my tardiness. I managed to hunt down her direct line on my cell phone and gave her a call explaining that I was right around the corner. The interviewer, who became my supervisor, told me later that she knew I had the job already from that phone call.
Following the wild interview process, I was offered the ten-week internship, working two full days per week! I could not have been more excited that my preparation had paid off. The team I was placed with was absolutely wonderful, and I am lucky to have spent ten weeks learning from a team of such intelligent, hard-working women. I had the sweetest supervisor ever, and everyone around me was a Gilmore Girls and Harry Potter fan. Seriously. It was everything I imagined at first.
And on a more serious note, I learned so much. My computer skills improved a ton, particularly through using Excel. I helped to manage an inbox and interacted with consumers via email. I now know how to write copy for social images, advertisements, event kits for retailers and educators, and more. I even wrote a “Book Boyfriend” quiz to match readers with their perfect book boyfriends, and therefore their perfect next read, and a Shakespeare quiz to celebrate the Bard’s 400th death anniversary. These were my favorite projects because I really got to be creative (and flex my English major muscles). I was lucky enough to be able to see the final product of my Book Boyfriend quiz all graphically designed and produced! I couldn’t believe it had all started with my little quiz.
However, I think that a hugely beneficial part of this internship for me was learning what I don’t want to do in my future career. I know that I could never handle that kind of a commute again–I live at home and my commute to NYC (driving to the train station, taking the train, the subway, and then walking) took about two hours each way. I was out of the house for 12 hours each day and was so exhausted when I got home that I could never do too much schoolwork on internship days. Of course, the commuting issue could always be fixed by moving after graduation.
I also learned that I get very overwhelmed in the large crowds of New York, and I don’t love the kind of person I am when I’m pushing my way past tourists to get back to the office after a quick lunch break. It’s difficult to admit, but I didn’t expect to take on the moods of those around me so much. I was more easily frustrated, extra stressed, and very saddened by the homelessness I saw every day. Of course, I live close enough to New York that I’ve been there a hundred times for concerts, school trips throughout my life, and days out with friends–but battling rush hour and going in for work is a whole different beast. But once again, I believe that this is a frustration that could be alleviated if I lived closer to the city.
Finally, and most importantly, I learned what I prefer and dislike in a work environment. I love being creative and planning events. However, spending a whole day at a desk was definitely something I had to get used to. This opened my eyes to the individual tasks required of people in different departments. I took note of which types of people got up and out more, traveled for their position, or spent the most time in meetings. I was incredibly lucky to get my foot in the door as a student in the publishing industry — it was so exciting to see the inner workings once inside.
I am so grateful to have had this opportunity. If you have the chance, I urge you to do an internship as well during your undergraduate experience. Take note of the things you find monotonous and the moments that you feel proud of your accomplishments. This internship has been a key component of my education and really helped me, especially as a senior, to consider what I want my next step to be.