Work experience and internships can be excellent ways to find
out if publishing is the right career for you and if so to get your
foot on the publishing career ladder.
Pay for interns
All work experience or internships you are offered should be
paid - except those taken as part of a course of study (eg school
pupils or Edinburgh Napier University or University of Stirling
publishing courses). See the official guidance on the UK Government website.
Difference between work experience/placement and internships
Many employers and others use the term interchangeably. However,
work experience tends to be used for shorter periods in the
workplace (one or two weeks) undertaken by school or university
students to get a taste of a certain job or industry or as part of
a university course. Internships are generally undertaken by
graduates or others in the job market, can be more structured,
involve more hands-on work and can last for a longer period (up to
Some bigger publishers (especially in London) have structured work
experience or internship programmes: see eg Faber &
Faber, HarperCollins and Penguin Random House. This is not common in
Scotland where the publishers are small and medium-sized and
interns are likely to be asked to help out on whatever needs done
at the time they are there.
Where to find publishing work experience/internship in
Publishing Scotland's members rarely advertise for interns as
they get so many unsolicited requests. However, when they do
advertise, we will post them on our website so check regularly or
follow us on Twitter @PublishScotland. There's a list
of publishers on our website and many have contact names.
They all have links to the publishers' websites where you will find
out more information about them.
How to apply for work experience/internship
Treat your application like a job application. Do your research
about the company, find out who to contact and send them a covering
letter (no more than one page) and your CV. Your letter and CV
should be clearly laid out and word perfect. You will be competing
with lots of other people so it's important to make a good
What to expect from work experience/internship
Work experience may involve shadowing and/or assisting one or
more members of the staff. Internships can range from general
assistance on a wide variety of tasks in different areas of
publishing to working on specific tasks or projects in one
department. The helpful Book Careers website has some Golden Rules for Work Experience to help
you get the most out of it.
Is it worth doing work experience/internship?
By doing work experience or an internship you get the
opportunity to learn about how a publisher or publishing department
works. As well as developing and practising your publishing skills,
you get to meet and talk to people working in the industry, get
advice and make contacts. All this will enable you to make more
informed career choices. If you already know that you want to work
in publishing it may help you to get your first job but there's no
Work experience and internships in other areas can also be very
useful for getting a start in publishing eg general office
experience (including administration, answering phone calls) and
all book industry experience is useful especially book retail.