Wednesday, April 10, 2013

My Life as an Intern

A lot of you knew that I had been doing an internship for the past twelve weeks. This came about because of the publishing courses I'm taking online through a university in Toronto. I had been thinking for awhile that I wanted to see what the publishing world was all about and I finally decided that it was now or never, applied for a few internships, got hired at Random House (more freaking out about that to come), quit my job, and prepared for the most ridiculous commute ever. 

I had my last day last Friday and, as I write this on Monday night, it still hasn't really sunk in that I'm done. For the last twelve weeks I was working at Random House of Canada. RANDOM HOUSE, PEOPLE! This is a publishing house that even non-obsessive readers recognize. They're a big deal. And I got to work there for twelve weeks. Amazing. 
The RHC imprint sign in the lobby
I had a lot to think about before deciding to do an internship. It wasn't just a matter of quitting my job and working for a ridiculously small amount of money. No, it was quitting my job to work for a small amount of money while spending more than that small amount of money to travel two hours to the internship. I had to drive 45 minutes to catch the train, spend 50 minutes on the train, and then walk 10 minutes to the office. I'm sure I was known around the office as the Insane Intern. Oh, and to get to work on time I had to make sure I was up at 5:30 am. Thank goodness for the Gilmore Girls reruns airing at 5 am. No surprise, I was absolutely exhausted at the end of my internship. Just completely wiped out. But I'm glad I did it. Even if I don't remember what it's like to be fully rested.

So what did my internship involve? A lot of mailing. The bulk of my days were spent sending books to professional reviewers (newspapers, magazines, radio stations). Sometimes they were ARCs, sometimes they were finished books. They could also be cerlox bound manuscripts that my fellow intern and I had to bind. We actually didn't mind binding the odd manuscript because it was oddly relaxing. Except for the 900+ page manuscript the new intern and I had to bind during my last week. I'm pretty sure I'll start twitching when I see that finished book in store!

I also got to help out at a few launches. I admit, I didn't jump at the chance to do as many because I lived so flipping far away. Luckily, the two publicity assistants we were receiving direction from were more than understanding. My first launch was for The Lion Seeker by Kenneth Bonert. I actually got to go to some Indigo stores the day of the launch with the author and one of the assistants so he could sign stock. Very cool. Both that launch and the launch for The Juggler's Children by Carolyn Abraham were held at Ben McNally Books - an awesome indie bookstore in Toronto. These launches consisted of greeting people, pouring wine, and making sure crackers and cheese were always at hand. The third launch I helped out at was for I Am So the Boss of You by Kathy Buckworth and was held at Loblaw's in the old Maple Leaf Gardens. We wore super unattractive uniforms and were on guest list check. BUT I'll always have a soft spot for this night as it was the night I had my first celebrity sighting - David Sutcliffe (aka Christopher from Gilmore Girls) was in the store that night. Very cool.
Stacks of books I had to send to various reviewers
Time to talk about the bookish awesomeness of this internship. I was surrounded by books. Sometimes quite literally (see the above photo)! I felt totally behind sometimes because I was only just learning about some of the spring 2013 books and people were already talking about fall 2013 books. Speaking of talking about books, this was the place to go if you wanted to chat about a book you had read. I did a quick count the other day and I think I took home between 25 and 30 books during my internship. This is not a large number as there was a previous intern who apparently had six boxes of books to cart home when she was done. Of course, I'm not sure where I'm going to put all those books or when I'm going to read them all, but I have them!
The books I was able to take out of the book room on my last day
I mention the book room in the caption in the above picture. That was probably one of the most glorious places in the whole building (though some people had shelves full of books that I would probably hurt someone to get.) Almost all the new releases were kept in the room, organized by publicist. So, if Publicist A  asked me to mail a book to Reviewer B, I would go to A's shelf in the room and pull a book from there.

So, now that I'm all done my internship the big question is...was it worth it? Yes, I think it was. The long days just about killed me and I don't know how my boyfriend was able to put up with me near the end (thank you thank you thank you). But I got to meet SO many people and I really did learn a lot. I think I've discovered that I'm a bit of a passive learner - I learn by watching and doing what I'm asked and I don't always think to ask questions. Note to self: work on asking questions. I definitely didn't want to leave. The people were great and it'll be weird not seeing them every day. Of course, they're used to it. Interns come and go constantly and in all departments, so it was sometimes hard to feel like I totally mattered, you know? At the end of it though, I'm so glad I took a chance. If nothing else, I can now say that I worked at Random House of Canada for 12 weeks. Not many other people can say that.

Last week, a post went up on Retreat by Random House that my fellow intern, Caitie, and I wrote. We each came up with five things we learned as publicity interns. Some of the things I mentioned here are in that article as well, but I hope you'll check out the other points.

Now, you're probably wondering "what's she going to do next?" right? OK, if you weren't, just play along. I was searching for jobs and starting to get a little stressed but as of Monday I am the new intern for Project Bookmark Canada. It's an awesome bookish nonprofit that is putting Canadian literature on the map, literally. They put plaques (bookmarks) in the exact locations where literary scenes take place. Pretty cool, eh? I'm starting with some research this week and then I'll dive right in next week. I'm really excited and can't wait to share what I've learned there. Stay tuned!


  1. I bet you are definitely not going to miss getting up at 5 AM every morning lol! It sounds like you had an amazing internship though! Can't wait to hear more about your next one!

  2. I'm so glad you had a beneficial experience AND that you found another internship. I'm looking forward to hearing more about how that goes. Congrats on this amazing experience and thanks for sharing the details.

  3. What a great opportunity! Sometimes it really is worth it to make sacrifices to do something you love. Especially this was a set timeframe and not a permanent job. I hope you find more publishing work you can do.

  4. I'm so happy you blogged about this! I was wondering all about the ins and outs of life as a Random House intern! It sounds as amazing as I thought it would be, except with that commute and early morning wake-up time! How funny is it that Gilmore Girls is what helped you get up and you ended up spotting a Gilmore Girls cast member?! Way to go universe!

    I would kill to have a book room! Some girls want big closets full of clothes and accessories but I would love a book room!

    I'm so happy to read that you are on to another great internship! I hope you blog about that as well!

  5. Very cool post, it was great to read that Kaley! Best of luck on your next adventure, I'm sure you'll do great :)

  6. This sounds like an awesome experience, minus the long commute lol. Thanks for sharing about it. I'm so glad you got to do it!

  7. What a great post Kaley! It was so fun getting to work with you :) Hopefully you'll be back in no time. xo

  8. This was a great post! Your experience sounds almost identical to mine when I interned at HCC, right down to the 5am morning (that 2 hour commute was a B*TCH!) But I agree, totally worth it. Congrats on completing your internship and goodluck at Bookmark!


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