Hello! My name is Michelle, and I graduated in June 2023 from Queen’s University with a BAH in English Language and Literature. As of this fall, I am also a Sales and Marketing intern at University of Toronto Press.
Over the next few months, I will be sharing some posts about my internship experience, as well as some of the things I’ve learned while working here. I am excited and grateful to have been granted this opportunity, and hopefully my posts can shed some light on what it’s like to intern at UTP!
Whenever I told people I was an English major, I was always confronted with the same question: “But what are you planning to do with an English degree?” Despite their support of my studies, my parents often worried about my chances of finding work after graduation in a discipline like mine. It’s a dilemma often faced by students in the arts and humanities – having to justify why our field of study is worth pursuing and how our skills and interests are, in fact, valuable assets to the world. And of course, there is always the dreaded question hanging above our heads: “How will you find a job with this degree?”
As someone who always preferred reading science fiction over science textbooks, I soon found myself fearing that my love for creative writing – and my less-than-stellar grades in STEM subjects – would lead me to a dead-end in the job market. Could there really exist a workplace out there for me that suited my skillset, and where my interest in books and writing would be an asset and not a source of skepticism?
During my undergrad, I was determined to immerse myself in the literary and writing communities at my university. I joined creative writing clubs and courses, attended literary events and readings and book launches. In a creative writing course I took one year, the class had the opportunity to publish our work in a creative writing anthology, producing a real, physical book that we could hold in our hands. As thrilled as we were, we soon learned that the “writing and editing” stage was only the first step of the publishing process. Our book could not be printed without sales – and to get sales, we needed to promote our book and convince people that it was worthy of reading.
The process of marketing our book took months longer than the creation of the book itself. We created graphics for social media and brainstormed ways to pique interest in our intended audience. In the end, our efforts were a success – we held a well-attended book launch and raised enough money to publish – and distribute! – our final anthology. I left that class with my writing in print and with a newfound interest in the world of book publishing.
I soon discovered that my interest in writing translated well into the processes of marketing and promotion. I loved literature and found satisfaction in exploring how to make literature appealing to others. In the end, this led me to an internship at UTP – a position where I could learn the art of promoting authors and organizing book marketing campaigns, and above all, get an insider’s view of the Canadian publishing industry and all the processes and intricacies it entails.
Though I have only worked two weeks at this internship so far, the number of things I have learned is practically enough to fill two notebooks – and yet I am never bored, nor any less thrilled than I was on the first day I arrived in the office. The first thing I did at UTP was sit in on the annual sales conference, an event whose name perhaps does not inspire much excitement at face value – and yet for six hours of each day I was hooked, learning about the new, wide assortment of titles that the press was preparing to publish, and even getting to listen in on calls with the authors themselves, hearing their passion for what they created. Throughout the conference, the Sales and Marketing team would brainstorm ways to get these authors’ books out into the world, be it on the shelves of bookstores or the desks of classrooms. UTP’s focus on academic books never affected my interest, either; I had never been much of a nonfiction reader before this, and yet I walked away from the sales conference with a list of upcoming titles I was already dying to read.
The work itself, too, is varied and fascinating. I’ve learned how to send books out to journals for review and how to excerpt those reviews for display on UTP’s website. I’m learning new programs I’ve never heard of before to create graphics and send newsletters and schedule social media posts. The UTP offices themselves are filled with books that you can read, both published and unpublished, like a waking dream for any bibliophile. And all the people I’ve met here have been so kind, encouraging, and helpful, even when I bombard them with questions throughout the day.
There are still ten weeks of my internship left and I cannot wait to see what the future holds. I look forward to learning all I can about the publishing industry and producing work that I can be proud of. I aim to do my part in supporting the Sales and Marketing team, contributing what I can to the success of UTP’s publications, and aiding with the delivery of important, timely texts to their relevant readerships.