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Publishing student Sarah Kendle’s internship with Cambridge University Press led her to reconsider her career options, and realise that what she thought was a weakness was in fact a hidden strength.

“When I considered my future career in publishing I thought I would begin in trade or academic. I never considered English Language Teaching to be so huge an industry and how much potential profit an organisation can make in this market.

“I learned how digital is shaping the whole of the industry, from online protection, data storage and even virtual reality is breaking into the once print-dominated industry. Digital is the future, but it’s not just going to be e-books. There are certainly going to be some surprises in the publishing industry in the next few years.

“During my six-week internship I learned both soft and hard skills, some of which I was not expecting:

  • Editing (both copy and content). I was given a variety of products in varying stages of the publishing process which required different levels of critical detail. Importantly, I learned to develop a filter. All publishers have a set of rules and guidelines that their products must adhere to. I learned how to use this filter in order to create products ready for print.
  • Digital Publishing. Although I knew I would be working in a digital team I was still surprised with how hands-on I would be with some of the digital aspects. I worked predominately with a programme called Avallain, which creates online content for students to learn from. I have created multiple online, educational activities.
  • Time Management. I always found this skill an odd thing to include on a CV but I now fully respect it. During my internship (and now in my job) I have multiple projects I am responsible for which I must follow to schedule. I recall on my first week I had around fifteen meetings with three deadlines for the end of the week. It was a skill I improved on very quickly.

“The majority of the editorial team for ELT had worked previously as teachers and because of this they all had the same perspective. I had never worked as an English teacher, which I believed was my weakness when applying for the internship. During my interview I was asked about this and argued that I brought a different perspective, because I was around the same age as the target readership.

“I asked on my last day of the internship why they chose me. I felt at the time I was the weakest candidate – the job description requested students to have experience teaching English as a Foreign Language. However, I was told by my Line Manager that I was their favourite from when they first saw my CV and covering letter as they thought it was clear and well written. My Line Manager also said they were impressed with my performance in the task and interview.

“I had been applying for publishing jobs since before I started my MA and I must have applied to around a hundred different roles and came close to getting the jobs, but I would always get the same response: ‘You don’t have enough experience’. This internship has given me a chance to gain that experience, to put my foot in the door and squeeze in.”

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