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It wasn’t until I left university that I realised I hadn’t undergone the internships that would land me my first job in publishing, editing or writing. Call me naïve, but I thought my degree would be worthy and the beginning to a wealth of possibilities. I knew internships would be my first step, but I hadn’t expected the difficulties of finding one outside of London and one that would pay me a decent daily rate to ensure I could travel to and from or even pay for lunch.

My plans after university, however, differed from others. I planned to travel before settling into a job, so once graduating I took a retail job and saved my money. I thought internships could wait and that maybe when I was in Australia, there would be a place I could volunteer at and learn from. I was wrong.

Ten months of travelling provided me with the break I needed from academia, though. I travelled to Australia, visiting Coffs Harbour, Sydney, and living in both Perth and Cowaramup. My partner and I travelled in our 4×4, lived beside white-sand beaches, worked on vineyards, and I continued to write, detailing my experiences on my travel blog. When it was time to leave, we detoured via Japan and spent two weeks surrounded by the shrines of Nikko, looking up at Mt. Fuji and adapting to the craziness of Tokyo.

I’ve been back in England for six months now, and I’m happy to disclose that I’ve landed my first proper salaried job. I’m a copywriter and editor and enjoying every task and job that lands on my desk. However, getting here has been a long and arduous journey. Which is why, for the writers and striving editors out there, I’m offering some useful tips on how to land that first job in the writing/editorial/publishing industry.

Once an Intern…

Not always an intern. Internships are the foundations of the publishing/writing field, and you must become one a handful of times before companies give you a shot. For most, this is unfair, as most publishers or businesses will offer limited pay that usually comes in the form of ‘expenses.’ Unless you have a lot of money saved up or you live in London, trying to intern will prove challenging.

However, it can be possible. I live in the Midlands (that part of England no one acknowledges) and managed a two-week internship at Penguin Random House. How did I do it? I saved my money beforehand and was lucky enough to stay with my friend. Penguin then paid for my expenses, so my commuting and lunch fares were dealt with. Therefore, make sure to ask your friends or family if you could crash with them. Otherwise, the accommodation will take a huge chunk out of your bank account.

Although internships are a pain, they are influential to your career. I’ve found that with Penguin listed in my CV, companies take note of me, and my success rate rose. Soon, unpaid internships will no longer be relevant, as most are illegal and any unpaid work can sometimes not constitute to ‘proper work.’

Therefore, make sure you know your rights and that even if it’s £10 a day (one of my actual pay rates as an intern, sigh), you class it as paid work.

Network, Network, and More Network

Whether you add classmates or housemates from university or ask your Line Manager from an internship to connect on LinkedIn, all connections will help you land your first job. Prospective employers could give you a quick Google, and if they see you have a lot of connections in a relative field, who may have endorsed your writing, editorial, etc. skills, then you instantly become more desirable.

Customise Your CV and Cover Letter

The internet makes it easy for us to send out a mass of identical CVs and Cover Letters. However, identical CVs are less likely to land you an interview. Although job specifications usually harness the same tasks and requirements, each company is different. By tailoring your CVs and Cover Letters, and adding specific jargon and emphasis, then you will be providing quality experiences and personality.

Become a Blogger

It may seem as if everyone is trying their hand at blogging, but that doesn’t mean you can’t. It’s hard to become a blogging success, where companies will pay to advertise on your website, but for writers, that’s not always their goal. Like I did, creating a travel blog, or reviewing books/films – even uploading chapters of the novel you’re working on –can serve as an online portfolio as well as a creative outlet.

A career in publishing and writing can become infuriating, and because of its popularity, breaking into the industry is never easy. Although internships are your best bet, they’re hard to land. However, persevere and never say no to any opportunity. Keep adding to your CV, whether it’s working at a local magazine or interning at one of the biggest companies out there.

About The Author

Profile photo of Sophie Goodall

Originates from a tiny village in the middle of nowhere, UK. Graduated from Royal Holloway, University of London with a degree in English Literature and Creative writing. Aspiring novelist; lover of films and filmmaking; forever exploring a deeper meaning in everything. Travelled Australia and Japan, and am now a paid writer and editor.

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