This is what I wrote in my diary the day I was offered a marketing internship with University of Toronto Press: “I GOT THE INTERNSHIP! OMG OMG OMG! I have an OFFICE JOB! They’re giving me a CUBICLE! And a CHAIR!” This is a true, and embarrassing, story. Though I may have harboured some illusions about the glamour of cubicle life, after three months at UTP, I can say for sure that my excitement was well founded.
Although I’d taken two excellent classes in publishing at Ryerson, working at UTP gave me the irreplaceable experience of learning on the job. Attending the sales conference, helping out with book launches, tracking down buyers, and writing catalogue copy helped me understand what it takes to work in this industry from day to day. My tasks ranged from the thrilling (sipping wine with the Honourable Adrienne Clarkson was a particular highlight) to the less so (I filed quite a few memos, giving me the irrational fear that one of our enormous filing cabinets would topple over and crush me to death), but no matter what I was doing, I was learning.
Not only did I add an impressive list of new skills to my resume, but I also met an office full of friendly, welcoming people who went out of their way to help me out, by giving me resume tips, going over my class projects, teaching me how to fix the photocopier, and sometimes just buying me a beer. After three months, I suddenly found myself with the beginnings of what every job-hunting manual keeps telling me I need to have: a network.
My internship was a huge step forward for me, and I’m grateful to everyone at UTP for giving me all the new experiences. Next time the beer’s on me. (Well, not literally. I can’t back that up.)