Stepping into my Intern shoes: Week 13

It’s taken me a while to wrap up my Internship experience and write this post because it’s been a really sad end to a really great experience. I didn’t get offered a job, but that’s just the way it goes I suppose. At the moment they don’t really have the means to add to their team, and I fully respect that. I’m a little gutted, I won’t lie, but there’s no use in crying about it.

My last week was much like any. I was busy chasing up loose ends so that when my last day arrived, I wouldn’t be leaving anything up in the air. As a way of making sure this didn’t happen, I created a comprehensive handover document for the PR lady, with a list of everything I’ve been dealing with while she’s been away. To look at, it must have been pretty overwhelming, but I felt kind of proud reading through it because it showed just how much I’d done in my time there. So even though I won’t be the newest member of their team, I’ve been able to walk away from the office knowing that I’ve made a real difference, and that’s not something money can buy.

On my last day, I was kind of sad and excited and dreading it all at the same time. The night before I made some chocolate-y treats and wrote a little message in the thank you card I bought for the team. When I arrived that morning, I cannot tell you how much of an anti-climax it all was. In actual fact, it was kind of hilarious. Of all the mornings I’ve turned up to a full office, the only people there on that last morning was me and one member of the sales team. As the morning went on, more people trickled in, and my treats went down well. I’m pretty sure one of the freelance writers kept sneaking into the kitchen to get another, which made me smile.

The first goodbye was one of the sales ladies who has been really nice throughout my internship. She’s great at her job, and she’s just one of those people who can talk to anyone, so when she just said, ‘thanks for all your hard work and, well, thanks for being you!’, I may just have had a little lump in my throat. Then the Managing Director came in and handed me a present from the PR lady. She was still on holiday, but she’d left me a gift from Hong Kong – some chocolates with a sticky note on the box. The message was simple but touching and I may or may not have had another little lump in my throat.

As 1pm drew nearer, my stomach started churning. I didn’t want to leave because I was afraid I might cry, and that was not the impression I wanted to leave them all with. Still, I couldn’t exactly sneak out without saying thanks. When the time came, the MD walked me to the door and asked what was next for me. I told him I didn’t really know, maybe I would try and find something full-time in administration since that kind of experience is essential for editorial work. Then perhaps a move down South might be in order if I really want to give this career of mine a good go. He was more than happy to provide me with a reference, and even gave me some advice about finding work through an organisation for which he’s resident on the Board of Directors. Apparently they have some handy online training courses and they even advertise jobs on their website, linked directly to the publishing industry. I told him it was just a case of knowing where to look and getting my foot in the door somehow, and thanked him for the internship and all the responsibility he’d given me. He said the PR lady had told him I was an asset and thanked me for all my hard work.

I walked out of there with tears in my eyes and actually had a little cry as I walked back towards the city centre. Not to be dramatic or anything, but I can’t tell you how hard it was to walk to work that afternoon and go and fold jeans for four hours, knowing that I was officially back to square one. If there’s anything I can’t help but take away from this whole experience, it’s that getting a job these days feel almost impossible. Everything seems to stand against you – you either have not enough experience or too much. Employers want to know why you have such a mix of employment history – retail and admin and blogging work – and how it’s relevant to the position you’re applying for, without considering that maybe we just try and get whatever work we can to earn money. Sometimes that’s as simple as it is.

I’ve found it really hard not to be disheartened about the internship coming to an end and not leading anywhere. When you put so much effort into something in your free time and it doesn’t quite pan out how you wanted it to, it’s heart-breaking. Now, a week later, I’m finding it difficult to adjust to going back to just having my retail job. It was nice to have something in the mornings to look forward to. To have something to do that I knew was actively contributing to my future. Now, I’m spending those mornings searching for jobs in admin to try and get out of retail. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve learned a lot, but it’s not the job for me. It’s time to put my degree to use and start enjoying working again. I’m twenty-two. I have nothing to lose at this point. As much as I’d love to just up and move to London where all the major publishing houses are, I have to be tactical and practical about this. My head is telling me to get an admin job, build up those skills for a couple of years until they become almost second-nature, and then consider the London move again when I’ve actually had the chance to save for it. It makes sense that when I finally get that Editorial Assistant role, being familiar with the admin side of things will make it so much easier to acclimatise to the newness of the job.

For now, all I can do is keep applying and hope that I find something soon. The aim is to be out of retail before Christmas, because I really don’t know if I can hack another Christmas in retail. I don’t know if that will actually happen, but feel free to keep your fingers crossed for me!

Stepping into my Intern shoes: Week 12

This, the penultimate week of my internship, has been pretty steady, as weeks go. The last couple of weeks were slightly hectic as we worked towards the deadline to get the festival programs off to the printers, and this week, they came back. I got to keep a copy, and I was really surprised and kind of humbled to see that my name preceeded the other staff members in the ‘written by’ acknowledgement section. I wrote a lot of the content because the main writer for the magazine was away from the office for a couple of weeks due to unforseen circumstances. At the time I didn’t realise I was writing most of the content because I thought I was just laying the groundwork, so to speak, but apparently not! This is a really good thing. I’m so proud. It’s really quite overwhelming to see your name in print, to see your hard work acknowledged that way. 

This week I spent most of my time chasing people from venues in several parts of the country to try and get photography booked in for the next two cookbooks. It’s been slow going, but when people are trying to run businesses, it’s always going to be tricky. Slowly but surely, my appointment spreadsheet it becoming more green than yellow and red, so I’m starting to get somewhere, and I’m really enjoying having so much responsibility. It makes me feel like they trust me to deal with their clients, and that’s such a fantastic feeling.

I’ve also been trying to turn my attention to their social media pages to get some coverage, and when I haven’t been doing that, I’ve been trying to re-jig their contacts database. It’s a little old, so it needs updating and laying out a little bit better. I think I’m making it easier to navigate, and I get a nerdy kick out of monotonous filing, so it’s a win win for them and for me! 

Truth be told, it’s really hitting home this week that I only have five days left in this office, with these people, doing this job that I’ve been wanting to do since high school. So much has started to come together and it’s gone so quickly that now I’m really not ready for it to end. I’m choosing not to think more than a day ahead to keep myself from going crazy; I’ll let you know how that’s working out next week! 

Stepping into my Intern shoes: Week 11

This week has been significantly less stressful given that everything related to the festival program is finished. Done with. No more. The deadline has passed, and all is well, which means that I’ve finally had time to go through my to-do list and get some things ticked off for the PR lady while she’s on holiday.

As of last week, I was only handling one photographer’s diary, but this week, I’ve been handling three. Yes, three. At first, it was a little overwhelming. Two of the books have the same photographer shooting them, so I was hyper-aware that I was going to have to keep double-checking that I didn’t double-book anyone. As the week developed, I decided that it might be a good idea for me to really get on top of it to make sure that didn’t happen. So I printed myself off a table, and blocked out the slots that had been booked. Now, when I come to book in more venues, I can clearly see which slots are available, and that I haven’t double-booked anyone. That made me feel a heck of a lot better about things. At the moment I’m managing to book quite a few people in, which is really good. It means we should be able to keep to the book’s schedule to get it printed on time.

In between managing three photography diaries, I’ve been writing news stories for the magazine’s website, and working on gathering social media handles for one of our regional books. Mostly just so we can tag the book’s contributors in any new posts about the book. I’ve also been chasing after press coverage for our mostly recently published book. A lot of newsrooms haven’t responded, which is always annoying, but I’m persistent. A few new contacts agreed to do some features and post about us on social media. I had to drop this task for a while given all the festival stuff, so I’ve been kind of aware that I needed to get back on top of it, because press is vital for sales. When you’re dealing with a small regional area too, though, it’s difficult to find as much press as you’d like. After all, there are only a few newsrooms and magazines, so I’m trying to find bloggers, vloggers, and even online websites that have blogs. They have actually proved the most fruitful route for me to go down. One of the things I was really happy about was that I managed to bag one of our Sales team another press interview – this time over the phone for a local newspaper.

I’m still keeping up with their Amazon orders, and I’ve even been asked to do purchase orders from retailers. It’s quite a big responsibility, and I’m still a little surprised that they’re trusting an intern with such important tasks, but I’m really loving the hands-on experience, and it’s nice to see all aspects of the job.

One thing I will say, is that I’ve been really surprised how comfortable I feel there. Like I’ve been there for years, and I actually feel like I know what I’m doing. I’ve got my routines down, and the MD knows I’m just happy to get on with the things on my list. I kind of feel like I belong at that desk, and I’m starting to feel like I’m doing an okay job stepping in for the PR lady. Maybe one of the best things this internship has afforded me has been a little more self-belief in my abilities.

This week it’s really hit me that I only have two weeks left of this internship. TWO WEEKS. I honestly don’t know where the time has gone. It’s given me so much in such a relatively short space of time, that part of me really doesn’t want to leave. The other, logical part of me knows that it can’t last forever (unless they give me a job), and that I have to move onto the next chapter of my career (whatever that may be). I’ll definitely take away everything I’ve learned. It’s been invaluable for the experience I’ve gained, seriously invaluable.

Stepping into my Intern shoes: Weeks 8, 9 & 10

These last three weeks have been crazy, so yes, this post is going to cover three weeks instead of just the one or two that I normally post. A lot has happened, so let’s waste no more time…

 

Week 8

Last week I got to manage the photographer’s diary, and that has fed into the last three weeks now as I continue to book in more people. To be honest, I know it’s better to call people and chat to them as much as you can to give your contacts that personal touch, but all the people I’ve been trying to get booked in are too busy to chat on the phone. So this week has been all about the emails. I’m slowly but surely finding the best way to manage this mammoth task, making sure that the photographer has enough time to travel from one venue to the next since he’s relying on public transport. So far so good.

I’ve also been dabbling in a few more news stories for the magazine. A new Krispy Kreme store just opened in Sheffield, so I wrote a little something in preparation for the grand opening, and I’ve also been posting out books for press purposes. But to be honest, the biggest thing I’ve had to deal with this week has been the upcoming festival in Sheffield that we’re writing the program for. Towards the end of the week, the MD gave me quite a list of things to do for this, so it’s been full-on in a way I really wasn’t expecting. I’ve had to compile all the listings for the different bands detailing when and where they’re performing, write up a profile for each venue that will be taking part in the festival’s fringe events, and write up some band bios. In the end, I have to admit, I was getting a little stressed that I was going to forget something, so I put on my organisation-cap, and made up a spreadsheet. This made it so much easier to keep track of what I needed to do, so that each day I could have it open and tick off things as I went along. I was pretty proud of this, and even emailed the MD and his business partner to let them know that I’d saved the spreadsheet in the folder with everything else so they could see how much progress we were making and how much there was still left to do.

 

Week 9

Going into week 9, I was blissfully unaware of how much crazier things were about to get. The PR lady who I work alongside would be going on holiday for 3 weeks, meaning that I would have to try and keep things ticking over until she got back. But anyway, I’ll get into that soon enough…

This week was all about getting things done for the festival program. But I also had to juggle this with keeping on top of the photographer’s dairy. So I made myself a Word Document, listed every appointment I’d made so far, and recorded on which day I needed to send them a reminder. Again – SO. MUCH. EASIER. I must have countless lists, but it really does help because it makes me feel organised and keeps me from letting anything slip through the cracks accidentally.

I tried to make some phone calls to the venues that weren’t really answering my emails about the photography appointments, but it was difficult because most people are on holidays at this time of the year. It’s holiday season, after all. But anyway, between calling and emailing multiple times and feeling that I was generally bugging them all to death, I’ve managed to get pretty much everyone booked in. All my reminder emails have been sent out, and all my confirmations too. I only have 4 venues left to book in, and that’s because one’s having a refurb and wants to wait until it’s all finished, and 3 have only just been added. All in all, I’m feeling pretty good about this. To say it’s been my first time handling someone else’s diary, it’s been a very scary but rewarding experience, and I’ve impressed myself with how well I’ve handled it.

When I wasn’t trying to get in touch with people about the photography, I was plodding my way through my to-do list. More listings were slowly coming in, and there were magazine stories that needed writing. I was finding it difficult to juggle so much, but I think you start to get used to it when you’re doing it all week. Again, keeping annoyingly long lists really helped, and I actually managed to get all the listings done. Woo!

 

Week 10

Week 10 has definitely been my most difficult week so far. On Monday morning, I was so eager to go in and do a good job of filling in for the PR lady – making myself stand out by proving to them that my shoulders were strong enough to take on so much responsibility –

Oh how things did not go as I’d planned.

I’ll tell you this: the PR lady deserves every penny she earns. One of her responsibilities is to process and take care of any book orders, so this is one of the things I had to take over. And let me tell you, I have never been so stressed out in my life. I was worried because I was actually dealing with customer orders – with wholesalers and retailers and handling cash. I didn’t want to do it wrong, so I took my time and it pretty much took me all morning. I told the MD that I hoped he didn’t mind me taking my time because I just wanted to do it right, and he was really supportive and said it wouldn’t always take this long, it’s just when you do it for the first time, it can be pretty daunting. Anyway, I muddled my way through, and I’m keeping my fingers crossed that I did it right. They’re incredibly trusting, but I’m happy to report that on Tuesday, when I came to process some more orders, it was so much easier. I found myself finishing it pretty quickly, so I felt better for that.

The rest of the week has been a mix of so much. I managed to get the artist bios finished, along with everything else for the festival program. I can’t tell you how glad I was when it was all finished. I knew they were working to a deadline, so I was trying to work as quickly as I could, but they also had a lot of staff off for various unforeseen circumstances which couldn’t be helped, so it was actually pretty lucky that I was there to lend an extra pair of hands. Despite the pressure, I’m glad I was able to help.

So this pretty much left me to start working through the task list the PR lady left for me. Chasing after venues to get more photography appointments booked in, posting out books to competition winners and press contacts, and covering social media. Plus a lot more that I still have my way to work through over the next two weeks before she returns. This week I also had to cover the mammoth task of compiling all the contacts from all of their previous publications into one master file. Again, I had to work to a deadline, and managed to get it done by Friday despite hitting a couple of speed-bumps.

Finally, I started to book in photography appointments for the next book they have in the works. I feel more comfortable going into this one after doing the previous one. I definitely feel like I have a better idea of how to go about it, I just have to leave more time for travel between appointments this time because all the venues are based in a place which is pretty busy. On Monday, I’ll be booking in photography appointments for a third book, so it’s going to be interesting juggling three different diaries at the same time, but as always, I look forward to the challenge!

Until next week.

Stepping into my Intern shoes: Weeks 6 & 7

Week 6

Last week was all about the press database for the newest cook book that’s about to be released, but I also got to write a press release about the success of the publishing company so far. It was really great to be able to write this, because I got to learn about all the different accomplishments the business has enjoyed so far. They’ve won Best Newcomer, Rising Star, and Independent Publisher awards, and are building up an impressive yearly turnover. It kind of made me feel really lucky to be there.

I was also asked to listen to a webinar which was all about improving your social media presence and generating interest around your business. It was pretty interesting, and this week we’ve actually used a couple of tips from the course, so I guess it turned out to be more useful than we expected. I also had the chance to edit a couple of creative pieces I’ve written for the magazine, and the PR lady sent me the links to some of my articles that are now live on the website. That was pretty exciting.

They also have a big Sheffield-based festival coming up, so I’ve been heavily involved with writing up some venue profiles for the festival program. I have to say, I feel like I was losing my writing inspiration toward the end of it, because I’d written that many that none of it sounded any good to my ears, but I’m sure they’ll tweak it if they aren’t happy with what I’ve given them.

On the Thursday, a phone call came into the office – for me – the last thing I was expecting! It turned out that one of the radio stations I’d contacted from one of the press databases for our last book, was contacting me to arrange a last-minute radio interview. So of course, I had a mini-heart attack while on the phone with her, thinking that I’d have to do a radio interview, but luckily it was in the afternoon – long after I was due to leave the office, and one of the sales ladies was really happy to do it, so all turned out well. I was kind of proud of myself for landing them a radio interview, to tell you the truth. I just kind of wished the MD had been there, but he’s been on holiday for a fortnight, so I just hope that one of the team members mentions it to him in the sales meeting when he comes back, otherwise it just sounds like I’m bragging.

This was the week I also realised that I have quite a bit of responsibility, even though I’m only an intern. For the very first book I was involved with at the start of my internship, the response from the press contacts regarding the press release hasn’t exactly been as overwhelming as we’d hoped. So I’m having to keep chasing them to try and get more people to create coverage of the book’s release. I’m really hoping things pick up soon, but it’s good practise for me to be working on more than one book at a time, because this is very common in publishing. Or so I hear.

 

Week 7

This week has been a real mix. Between carrying on with the most recent press database, finding social media handles for the book’s contributors and press contacts, and executing smaller tasks for the magazine, I’ve also been asked to proofread a new one-off project. It’s a book that’s been written by the MD’s brother in law, and it’s really good. Basically, he road-tripped his way through America and kept a log of all the interesting things that happened to him. He talks about politics and society, his expectations of the country versus the reality, and he does all of it in a very honest and entertaining way. It’s quietly comical and has a distinctly British tone. It’s inspired, and I’m so happy to have been a small part of bringing it to print. In all honestly, I keep thinking that I might ask the MD if he’s thinking of branching out into fiction and non-fiction novels, because I would seriously LOVE to be a part of that. After all, that’s exactly what I want to be doing. And I have to say, while I was sitting there with my pen, editing away, I genuinely found my happy place. While I’ve truly enjoyed being involved with the cook books, prose is where it’s at for me. I love all that philosophical-thinking – all the ideas and plots and narrative voice. That’s the goal for me, without a doubt.

Aside from this wonderful revelation, I also got the chance to manage the photographer’s diary this week. This meant more phone calls, but after a couple of days of calling people two and three times, I found myself feeling more comfortable with it. The tricky bit is trying to get as many appointments booked on the same day as possible to make it easier for the photographer. Still chasing this as we move into the start of Week 8, so wish me luck. Hopefully I’ll be able to make it work for everyone involved.

Towards the end of the week, I was asked to try and use some of the tips from last week’s webinar, to increase our Instagram following. Whilst doing that, I had an idea of my own. At the moment, given that the PR lady has a million and one things to do, the account is understandably just about covering the bare minimum of what it needs to be doing for the company. So I thought, why not try and improve it while I’m here? Why not try and come up with a bunch of ideas as to how they can up their level of engagement with followers? So I began to do a little research, made up a list of what I thought we might be able to post about, and sent the email to the PR lady. I also copied in the MD to make sure he was seeing just how invested I am in this role that they’ve given me. It may be temporary, but I can bring something valuable to this company in that short space of time. So I’ve been thinking about putting it to the PR lady that I’d be happy to take over the social media sites while I’m here for my last six weeks, if she’s happy for me to do that.

I really hope my hard work pays off. I know I could quite easily fill a social media-based role if they were to offer me one. I know I could easily fill a PR assistant role is they were to offer me one. And I know for certain that I would be perfect to fill a role of Editorial assistant is they were to branch out into other types of books. I see a lot of potential for this to turn into a job for me, it just depends if they see it too. I hope they do.

Stepping into my Intern shoes: Weeks 4 & 5

Last weekend, I wasn’t able to post about my internship because I went to see a local production of Hairspray (which was incredible) on the Saturday, and it was my mum’s birthday on the Sunday, so we wined and dined her! So here are weeks 4 and 5 all kind of mashed into one.

Week 4

This week, I revisited the latest press release I got to send out to all our press contacts. We hadn’t received as many responses as we’d hoped, so it was my responsibility to try and find more contacts who might be interested in generating some free interest around the book. Mainly through blog posts or media stories…etc. I also got to format a couple more recipes ahead of our latest cook book going to print, and was asked to write the blurb. It was pretty daunting, actually, because this time quite a few people had to look over the blurb to check it over and see if it sounded right, and one of those people was the Managing Director himself. One thing I will say is that I’ve gotten a lot of really useful feedback from the internship, even after only having been there for a few weeks. Everything I write is looked at and used, and I always get some form of feedback from either the PR lady who I work under, or the MD when he’s not too run off his feet. I didn’t really know how to react when I could hear them talking through my blurb – it was awkward, but also a kind of relief that they didn’t think it was completely rubbish. Mostly the first line just needed a little alteration because it was a little cliched.

As the week went on, I got to do quite a bit of creative writing, actually. I was asked to compose two short stories about music festivals, a food review for a newly-opened café in Sheffield that serves up vegan and veggie food, and I also got to write a little piece about a local pop-up foodie business that I really enjoyed. Then of course, it was proofing time again. Our latest book was ready to go off to the printer, so I spent two days getting through the hardcopy, making suggestions and picking up on grammatical errors and spelling mistakes. It might sound boring, but I get a real kick out of anything like that.

I also carried on with the little side-task the MD had given me the week before. It was an ongoing task – to research different distribution outlets nationally – but because it was the MD’s task, I kind of felt like I wanted to get it back to him ASAP to show him how quickly and efficiently I can work. I managed to find quite a few places that might consider stocking our regional cook books, which was a big relief because I was worried I wouldn’t find many. I even starred the ones I thought we should try first, and after checking about a million times for spelling mistakes, sent it to him and asked him to let me know if he wanted me to keep looking. He sounded really grateful, so I guess that’s a good start.

Towards the end of the week, the MD proofed the final copy of the cook book due to go to print, and asked if I could re-edit one of the pieces after he re-wrote it slightly. The profile did sound quite pretentious, but I hadn’t wanted to point it out in case it was just me. So I looked over it again, and then had to call up a local men’s clothes store to ask them to send over some photos for their upcoming feature in the magazine’s June issue. Again, I hate making phone calls, mostly because I hate the sound of my voice when I’m talking to customers – I have this really sickly customer service voice that I’ve cultivated from working in retail, and every time I built myself up to making the call, the office seemed to fall really silent. I just didn’t want to be stuttering and end up mucking up the phone call with all of them listening, but in the end I told myself to get a grip and just do it. Luckily I didn’t stutter or forget to tell him anything, but he mumbled a lot, so it was difficult for me to understand him. Still, it was the first phone call I’ve made in the office with everyone listening (since I tend to go in the board room), and I didn’t make an idiot of myself, so there’s that.

Week 5

The last book that went to print arrived back on Friday, so it was my job on Monday morning, to pack up some copies to send out for press purposes. It was the first time I’d seen my name in print as one of the contributors, so I did have an internal-squealy moment out in the corridor. Then it was onto round two of circulating the press release; re-emailing people to ask if they’d thought further about using our release. I got a couple of replies, but still not all that many. I spent some more time trying to add more contacts to the press database in hopes of generating more interest, so hopefully if we keep trying, we’ll get more responses.

I got to write another press release for the book that we sent off to print just last week, and I’m just waiting for one of the book’s high-profile chefs to get back to me with a quote for the release. I also started a new database to prepare for when we have to start sending out the press release, and feel that this one’s going a lot better because I’ve tried to look for multiple email addresses for each contact. That way, we’re more likely to get more responses and avoid the same thing happening as with the previous release that I sent out.

I was also asked to write a short piece about open-air cinemas in and around Sheffield, just giving basic details but writing it in a way that makes the story interesting to read since it’ll be appearing in the magazine.

On Friday, I arrived as I do every other day – early, and ready to get started. When I checked my email, I found a list of tasks from the MD, and they were pretty urgent. I had to write four profiles for stores at a local shopping centre for 11am in time for a meeting with a client, and so I got started straight away, only to be told that the shops I needed to write about had been altered to turn the spotlight on independent stores as opposed to familiar high street names. So I had even less time to get it done. Like a tool, I carried on writing, only to realise with half-an-hour to spare that I was writing about the completely wrong brands, so I swore silently, told myself I was an idiot, and quickly knocked out some new profiles. When the MD looked over and saw ONE profile in my Word document, I could have shrivelled into a ball. He ended up offering to write the last one for me, and all turned out okay. I suppose you have to learn from your mistakes, so I’ll be sure to double-check my brief in the future.

So as I finished up my last profile and emailed it off to one of the guys working on the magazine, the MD turns to me and says, ‘Come on then, let’s rock and roll. You might want to bring along a pen and some paper.’ Of course, this throws me for a minute – until I think back to the email. The message itself had been addressed to the guy on the magazine, then forwarded to me, so I’d presumed the email had been for him. Which is why the bit about the meeting with a client and me taking notes, hadn’t clicked. Next thing I know, I’m heading out of the door with the MD, five minutes up the road to where a new block of student accommodation has recently opened. We go in and I’m shaking hands with a gentleman, and then I’m taking notes and it’s all so surreal. I keep asking myself why he’d bring me along to take notes when he’s taking notes anyway, and the prematurely-optimistic part of my brain screams HE’S PUSHING YOU BECAUSE HE SEES HOW HARD-WORKING AND HOW GOOD YOU ARE AND HE’S GOING TO OFFER YOU A JOB. On the flip side, the logical part of my brain is telling me DON’T GET YOUR HOPES UP. HE PROBABLY JUST BROUGHT YOU ALONG BECAUSE IT’S THE PR LADY’S DAY OFF. IF SHE’D HAVE BEEN HERE, HE WOULD HAVE BROUGHT HER ALONG. So I just decided not to think about it at all, which really means thinking about it obsessively in a nonchalant-kind-of-way.

It’s getting harder though. The more time I spend at the office, the more I know it’s the perfect place for me. It’s the job I want, and if there’s no job offer at the end of it in July, I just know I’ll be crushed, but that’s not their fault. He did warn me at the very start that he had no full-time work to offer me just then, and he’s already recruited quite a few people, so I can’t see him taking on any more just yet. But sometimes my brain just conjures these ideal scenarios and I can’t help myself. Hope and optimism is both the best and the worst combination on occasions like these.

It also doesn’t help that I’m not happy in my job. I love going to the office so much in the mornings, and then I have to leave to go and work on a stuffy shop floor for four hours and it’s really hard. It’s not like there’s much incentive, either, since the money I do earn each month is just enough to cover my train fare and my board, leaving little else for the nice things that make work worthwhile. So I’ve been looking for other jobs – full time positions in the city that would make it more affordable for me to buy a car and be better off financially to go on holidays and on days out – to do the little things that make it bearable to go back to work on Monday morning. I’ve seen a couple of positions that I’d like to apply for, but I’m also on the fence because of this internship. It is, without doubt, the best thing to have happened to me since I Graduated, and if I got a full-time job I wouldn’t be able to continue with it. Part of me says that might be a good thing – they’ve got a good idea of what I’m capable of, of how hard I work every day I’m there, and it might make them realise how much they want to keep me. But if that isn’t the case, then I’ll have cut the internship short for desk work, and I’m not sure if that’s just a stupid move. It’s hard to know what to do in this kind of situation. I’d like my own car because it’s very rare that my train is on time, which means that I have to rush down to the office, then rush up to work while eating my lunch, then rush around the shop floor for 4 hours before rushing back down to the train station, and by that time I’m actually exhausted. It would just be nice not to spend the whole of my week rushing around like an idiot. Especially when it’s as hot as it’s been this past week.

So, lots of dilemmas. But another two really good weeks at my internship, with eight weeks left to go. Still undecided on the job front, but of course this wasn’t going to be easy, not much ever is! So stay tuned!

Stepping into my Intern shoes: Week 3

I feel like I should probably start with the good news that there were no public transport issues this week, so there’s that. I am, however, on the look out for my very first runabout, and am quickly discovering that searching for cars isn’t the easiest thing, but hopefully being able to rely on myself to get places will cut out some of the stress that comes with late trains and public delays.

This week at my internship, I got to create another profile for one of the restaurants featuring in the company’s upcoming releases, and I feel like I’ve got the flare for it now. I get what kind of tone they’re looking for, and I hope I’ve managed to capture that in the few pieces that I’ve written for them thus far. I was also asked to compile a list of tops news/trends/info from Sheffield for their magazine website. Fun, light-hearted stories that would make for an interesting read. I’m not sure why, but writing creatively still makes me nervous. I guess it’s always a little nerve-wracking when you show your work to others, so maybe that’s what it is. I wonder if it ever gets easier. But they seem to like what I’m writing anyway, so I probably should try to take encouragement from that.

On the Tuesday, I got to format some more recipes, and I wrote my very first Foreword for one of the books. That was pretty cool. I mean, a Foreword is pretty major – it’s right at the front of the book and has to do justice to the chef. I haven’t had the edits back yet, but I’m hoping they like what I’ve done with it. It was actually for the same chef that I translated some recipes for, and the same restaurant that I composed a profile for, so it’s been really nice to come full circle and be able to cover all aspects of the chef’s entries in the book.

On Wednesday, I was asked to revisit the list of news stories from Sheffield that I’d come up with on Monday, and create a few short stories for the website. Each story only had to be around 100-150 words depending on the subject matter, and I really enjoyed writing them. It was nice to use my research skills to really build a story and try my hand at a little journalism. Again, I haven’t had any feedback from them yet, but I’ll keep an eye on the website to see if they make an appearance.

The next day, I compiled a list of press contacts, focusing on finding their social media handles. This will help when it comes to advertising and promoting our books, because we’ll be able to hopefully secure some coverage on social media as well as through the more conventional route of advertising through print in local newspapers and magazines. I was also given a kind of ongoing task by the Managing Director. He asked me to look online for cook shops around the country, shops that might sell cookware and utensils and things like that – somewhere I could see our book being sold. This is to try and boost sales for each of the regional cook books, and isn’t an urgent task, so it’s sort of a task that I pick up when there isn’t anything pressing to do. The main thing is to have different distribution avenues for the company to go down. I think it’s a good sign that they’re constantly looking to progress and grow, and I’m really lucky to be a part of making that happen.

Friday was my busiest day by far. In the morning I researched more press social media accounts on Facebook, and started on the list of cook shops for the MD. As morning quickly gave way to afternoon, I got to write a review of a local cafe which has just opened, and serves up some seriously good-looking vegetarian and vegan food. I think a trend is starting to emerge here. The more creative stuff I do, the more I’m beginning to believe that that is the best part of my job. I thought it would be the other way around because I really do love all that administrative, organisational stuff, but I’ve surprised myself.

I also got to tag some of the book contributors on Google – something to do with Google searches. I think the main idea is that when the book is searched online, the contributors – all the suppliers, food producers, and restaurants will appear alongside the book. Extra exposure and accessibility for the readers, which is always good. Then finally, I got to email my own press release – the very first thing I wrote on my first day – to all the contacts I had compiled in my very first press database. Again, the closing of another circle. It felt good to see my work coming together – to see how one task feeds into another and contributes to the whole running of the department. It was pretty daunting to be dealing first-hand with the press, but also kind of secretly thrilling.

I’ve thoroughly enjoyed this week, and I feel like I’m beginning to find my place in the team. I feel comfortable there but I also feel challenged, which feels likes an important distinction.

Check back here next week to see what I’m getting up to as I make it through week 4 of my 13 week internship!

Stepping into my Intern shoes: Week 2

Week two was cut a little short this week, thanks to the Bank Holiday, but that wasn’t the reason my week got off to a bad start. On Wednesday, my train terminated unexpectedly at Meadowhall, literally one stop from Sheffield. All passengers had to get off and traipse over to Platform 3 for the next connecting service. I was one of the lucky ones who actually managed to get on said connected service, since it was already pretty full. It was a shambles. My train got in at 8.55am, so I was a good ten minutes late for the internship. I was so mad. And pretty out of breath.

But enough of travel disasters.

On Tuesday, I continued to add to the press database for one of the upcoming cook books, focusing on finding bloggers who might be interested in doing some free coverage. I tried to look for a variety of accounts: local bloggers for the area, food bloggers, lifestyle and travel blogs. I think I managed to get a pretty good mix, but not a lot of people list their contact information on their blogs, so the only way to get in touch is to use the contact form on their website.

I also attempted to conduct the author interview over the phone that I had to reschedule from last week. In fact, I’ve been trying to contact him all week, but no luck so far. Either he doesn’t like me, or he’s even busier than we thought.

The Managing Director also asked me to write up a little music profile/review as a kind of taster of what I can do. Basically, he wanted to get a feel for my writing style to see whether this would be my kind of thing. Within the publishing company, they have a magazine imprint which is actually how the company started. It’s a free magazine. A kind of ‘what’s hot in Sheffield’ guide, and I was pretty nervous about writing something for it. I’ve never really been into music. I can practically hear jaws dropping, but it’s true – I just tend to stick with whatever’s on the radio, or whatever’s in the Top 10. Literature’s always been more my thing. But of course, because the Managing Director had asked me to try my hand at it, I knew I couldn’t muck it up. And besides, his brief was: ‘basically, it might be a DJ who’s into dad music, and your job is to make him sound appealing’. I think it’s pretty hard to fail when you have a brief like that, so I chose a random DJ from my random Google search, and drafted a brief profile for him. I did the same for an upcoming acoustic night in Rotherham, and spent quite a bit of time hovering over it, moving commas around, thinking how terrible it sounded. I didn’t really want to send it to him because I didn’t think it was anywhere near my best work. When I finally ran out of time and couldn’t obsess over it any more, I emailed it to him and asked him to let me know what he thought. Turns out, it’s pretty much the thing he was expecting, so it couldn’t have been as awful as I’d built it up to be in my mind. I haven’t written anything more for the magazine yet, but I have a feeling that will be on next week’s agenda.

The following day, I continued working on building up the press databases for two of the cook books currently undergoing the editorial process. It felt like a long day because the PR lady wasn’t there, and because I pretty much did this all day, but I understand that sometimes you have to work on some slightly boring tasks. That’s the way with everything. But it was also nice to hear that my name is in one of their books as a contributor – well, the first of many, hopefully! And it goes off to print this week.

On Thursday, I wrote a profile for another café, which I thoroughly enjoyed again. Profiling is definitely my favourite part of the job! And then I spent the rest of the afternoon calling round clients to confirm their attendance to the launch night on Monday. I didn’t really enjoy that bit. I hate talking to people over the phone, and I felt like I stuttered a few times because I was nervous in case anyone asked me any questions I couldn’t answer. Still, I suppose it’s a part of the job I’m going to have to get used to – so practise makes perfect! It was then my responsibility to update the information on the guest list so the PR lady could see how many people would be attending.

On Friday, the final day of my second week, I was asked to edit a recipe, formatting it correctly, and making sure all the ingredients were included in the method and vice versa. Then more follow-up calls for the launch to the people who’d been unavailable the day before. It didn’t feel as bad this time around because I’d already made a bunch of phone calls the day before, so hopefully it will keep getting easier. I then got to do a small write-up for a local pub which has just launched its brand-new menu. I’m still waiting for the press team to send me through some photos and more press details for the piece before I can send it to the PR lady, but I’m happy that I got a first draft together so quickly using just the menu and the pub’s website. I’m hoping that says something about my creative capabilities.

I also got the chance to start a press piece for a local magician’s workshop. Then I was made an admin on the company’s Facebook page so I could tag the contributors of the book in a post about the book release. This was definitely the busiest day so far.

Honestly, I cannot believe how much they have already given me to do. I’ve only been there two weeks, and already I feel like I’ve done a little bit of everything. I’m grateful to be getting such an in-depth look at the kind of job I want to be doing in the near future, and it’s giving me great, solid experience to add to my CV. This week had been a little more challenging than last week, mainly due to the phone calls. I didn’t think they’d allow me to have such an active role in contacting clients, and as I said, I hate talking on the phone, but I understand that it’s an integral part of the job, so I’m going to keep powering through until it becomes easier. I’m just really enjoying being an editorial-slash-marketing-slash-PR assistant. I could seriously get used to it.

Stepping into my Intern shoes: Week 1

This week, I started my internship at a small publishing company in Sheffield. I was a little apprehensive in case I found the experience to be nothing like I’d already imagined it would be in my head. But I also had that flutter of excitement deep in my stomach when you get the feeling something could be really amazing – the first step towards more great things happening. Starting anything new always puts a little spring in my step, and this has been no different.

First, the shoes in the photo are the shoes I wore to meet the Managing Director in for coffee, three weeks ago. The shoes that gave me really bad blisters because they were new and I hadn’t broken them in yet. These are also the shoes I decided, stupidly, to wear on my first day, thinking that maybe I’d imagined them to be worse than what they actually were. Well, no. The blisters were worse than I remembered them being the first time around. So here is a photo to capture them in all their glory while I’m standing absolutely still, because I will not be wearing them again.

Day one was nice and relaxed. I met the team. I quickly became accustomed with the layout of the office. I was assigned my own little desk with a computer and a paper tray and a seriously comfy leather swivel chair. Someone made me a cup of tea. I met the lady I’d be working closely with, and she was very nice. She gave me the computer login details, and I got to work just like that. No muss, no fuss. I loved it. They didn’t make me feel like a kid who was just there to do some work experience. They didn’t shove me in a corner with some pre-arranged tasks to complete in silence. (And believe me. I’ve had that before). No, the nice lady talked me through what she wanted me to do, gave me an example as a kind of guideline to follow, and left me to work at my own speed. And it just seemed a given from the start that whatever I was doing would be used. It wasn’t just to pass the time – my work was actually going to be used. So I guess that only gave me more incentive to produce my best work.

I spent most of day one writing a press release for their next imminent release. To be honest, I was pretty nervous about it because I haven’t had much experience writing press releases. I think in all, I’ve only ever written one, but I was surprised to find that once I got the tone right, it wasn’t as difficult as I thought it would be. Plus, the PR lady gave me one of hers to refer to as an example. She also sent me a spreadsheet containing all the book’s contributors so that I could email a few of them to get quotes for the press release. I have to admit, this really made me feel like an editorial assistant. I mean, day one and they’re allowing me to communicate with the people who are in the book? ?b$fj!$!? IT JUST FELT SO COOL.

After I finished the press release and emailed it back to the PR lady, she asked me to try and transcribe an author interview that she’d conducted in preparation for one of the chef’s Forewords. She was really apologetic for giving me such a tedious task, but I actually really enjoyed it. The chef is French but lives in Amsterdam, so I had to use my detective skills (and a bit of Google Translate) to transcribe his answers. It took quite a bit of time, but it felt good to be doing something that would be really useful to the team.

On day two, I met more of the team, since some of them only work a couple of days a week. They’re all refreshingly friendly and not at all condescending about me being an intern. If anything, they seem truly grateful for the extra help. I spent most of my morning finishing the transcription for the author interview and the press release, and then I got to compose a blurb for the book. The PR lady said she would send me the edits in a couple of days, and then I’d be able to see how my work measured up. This was also the first day I got to see the Managing Director again since our first meeting three weeks before. I was pretty nervous this time around, very conscious that now I actually had to start proving my ability and not doing anything overtly dumb in front of him (which is pretty difficult for me). I don’t think I embarrassed myself, though, and he was just as nice as I remembered. He asked how I was getting on and if the team were keeping me busy. He also promised to let me get stuck into some proofing toward the end of the week in preparation for the book going to print.

Day three involved transcribing a recipe from the same chef, and arranging it into the proper format using the company’s preferred house style. It was the PR lady’s day off, but she left me plenty of tasks to keep me busy, and I quite enjoyed having to manage my own time. Then I got to compose a profile which will eventually form the beginning of the chapter for the chef’s recipe. By far, this has been my favourite task of the week. I really enjoyed getting stuck in and having to do a little bit of research to find out more about his cafe. I wanted to really do the piece justice, so I trawled the internet for feedback from customers, I went back through his interview for little tit-bits to include, and I even scoured his website for photos of the cafe’s most popular dishes. The result was a very happy intern.

On day four, I received my edits from the profile and recipe piece, and was glad (and more than a little relieved) to hear that the PR lady had liked most of what I had written. She sat and talked me through the changes, but said she’d had to change very little, and had just felt it necessary to shorten the piece, more than anything, to make sure it would fit in the book. I was happy with the finished result, and moved on to begin proofing the first draft of the cook book.

Yesterday, on the final day of my first week, I started compiling a press database for the cook book, using the internet to find a list of magazines, newspapers, blogs, social media accounts, and other sources that might prove useful when it comes to advertising and promoting the book. I didn’t get very far with this, though, because the book has to go off to print soon, so I spent a good hour or more doing further proofreading. Then I was asked to conduct an interview over the phone with one of their French authors. I tried both numbers he’d supplied at least six times, secretly terrified to be calling another country and to be carrying out such an important task. When he eventually picked up, we had to reschedule because he was too busy prepping for the restaurant to open, and he really wanted to give me a lot of good material for his profile instead of rushing the interview. So we’ve arranged to try again on Tuesday around the same time. Hopefully it works out. Hopefully I don’t embarrass myself.

I think it’s fairly safe to say that my first week has been a good one. I feel like a real intern; I feel like I’ve been there forever. And it may sound silly, but it’s nice just to be using my brain again. When you fold jeans for four hours a day, your brain goes onto auto-pilot, and you kind of slip into this monotonous routine without even realising it. I love learning and challenging myself and being terrified, and this internship seems to be giving me all of that and, if possible, more. These people aren’t just giving me valuable experience, they’re pushing me out of my comfort zone without probably even realising it. No two days are the same in this kind of work, and for me that’s exactly what I need.

I’ve found exactly what I want to do, and that makes it a lot easier to go to work in the afternoons, let me tell you. So stay tuned, because I can’t wait to see what the next twelve weeks bring!

‘It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop.’ (Confucius)

Finally, finally, things seem to be looking up. I sincerely hope I’m not speaking too soon, but I’m too excited not to say anything at all.

In March, amid sending out an arsenal of CVs and covering letters, applying for as many full-time jobs as I could find, I started to get a little desperate. It was so hard to know that I was trying my best and nothing seemed to be coming from all my efforts. In fact, it was – without risk of sounding a little melodramatic – pretty soul-destroying. At least, that’s how it felt in the moment. So I Googled small publishing companies in the city where I work, and the search did yield a few possibilities, but I still didn’t get my hopes up. I knew the chances of getting a job in a small company would be fairly impossible, since, chances were, these publishers would already have fully-functioning teams, and I would have to be incredibly lucky to drop on a job advertisement for one of them. A right-time-right-place sort of situation.

But I couldn’t go on as I had been, because I didn’t seem to be getting anywhere, so I trolled the websites of these small publishing companies for a while, and decided to indulge in a hail-mary. Thinking that it couldn’t do any harm, I emailed an editorial assistant of a publishing house which specialises in publishing cook books. I crafted a polite email asking for one very simple thing: advise. I have heard before that publishing staff are very friendly and are happy to share their own experiences of getting into the industry, so I decided to test that theory. I re-read the email at least five times before I sent it. I put it out of my mind. Chances were, I might not get a reply. I went to work as normal. I folded jeans for four hours. That night, I got home, and guess what was sitting in my inbox? An email from the Managing Director, explaining that his editorial assistant had forwarded him my email, and offering to give me a call.

I felt the urge to squeal. I did not squeal. I contained my excitement enough to reply immediately with my thanks. His reply promised a phone call the very next day. I waited, nervously, and he called. We had a chat and he explained that while he didn’t have any full-time work available at the moment, he could offer me an internship. I was elated. He offered to meet up over coffee the following week to hash out the details, and I hung up feeling that finally, finally, something was going right. Finally, after all of the job applications and not even getting offered an interview, someone was throwing me a lifeline.

The following Friday, I arrived outside the designated coffee shop thirty minutes early to find it closed. My new shoes were rubbing me. It was colder than I’d expected. And I was in the middle of applying plasters to my heels when I he arrived. It was a rough start, but as soon as he led me into their new office space, my excitement returned. It was stylish and cosy and was exactly the kind of place I’d imagined myself working in one day (imagine Aria Montgomery in the five-years-forward episode of Pretty Little Liars, and you’re not far off). The chat went really well. I was surprised to find I didn’t feel all that nervous, instead I just felt eager to get started. By the sound of it, this is exactly what I’ve been looking for. I’ll be helping out with admin, but I’ll also have the chance to dabble in some of the creative stuff, too. It’ll be real hands-on experience that will look great on my CV and give me the practical skills I need for a future in publishing. For once, it was nice for a potential employer to be insistent that this was going to be as beneficial for me as it would be for them.

Several weeks later, and it’s now the day before I start my internship. I’ve just come back off holiday from a week in Bridlington, a day trip to York, and another day trip to Harewood House. I’m feeling lighter and happier. I’m already planning what I’m going to wear, and I have my bag packed ready, complete with a new pen and a fresh notepad.

Things are starting to look up.

Watch this space for more deets of the internship!