Life as a Publishing MA student and Carlton Books intern

This week, we asked one of our lovely interns, Elizabeth Preske to write us a post about what it’s like to do a Publishing MA and also what it has been like working at Carlton…

Upon entering UCL’s MA Publishing course, I wasn’t really sure which area of publishing I most wanted to pursue. I just knew that I loved books and wanted a career that allowed me to immerse myself in their existence and surround myself with like-minded individuals. I thought Editorial might be a good career option for me as I do tend to obnoxiously correct other people’s grammar and I have what I can only describe as a ‘hipsteresque’ love for discovering books before the inevitable craze (I’m looking at you, The Hunger Games).

I was – and still am – interested in Editorial, but two months ago I didn’t know what else I could do in the publishing industry. The first week of the course we were given a crash course in its various departments – Editorial, yes, along with Sales, Marketing, Rights and Production. We learned how they work and how they cooperate and coordinate together to create the beautiful masterpiece that is a book. Since then, my course has met twice a week. Our instructors bring in professionals from the industry to speak to us and give us insight into their careers, providing us insider information and fuelling even more passion for the industry as they do. Among the numerous topics we’ve learnt this term, my course has been taught how to work with authors, draw up contracts, use InDesign and develop a marketing plan.

It’s one thing to spend 3 hours discussing contracts, but it’s another to actually work with them. I will get a work placement come spring, but I knew that it was important for me to get an internship before then in order to bolster my studies and get as much work experience as possible.

Several weeks ago one of my course instructors forwarded us an internship opportunity from Carlton Books. I applied, interviewed and got an offer to intern in the International Sales department within a few short days. Although I had never previously considered a career in International Sales, the placement could not have been more fitting. I work primarily with U.S. sales and since I am an American, I feel like the perfect candidate for this position. I also thrive on international relations and love to see how much better my culture is compared to everyone else’s (I’m kidding, seriously!). Really, I couldn’t wait to get experience in international business, and was beginning to see International Sales as a viable career path for me.

I work three days a week, on the days when I don’t have class. It is a lot of work and can be exhausting, but it is incredibly rewarding and I wouldn’t have it any other way. The first couple of weeks I helped out in the aftermath of the Frankfurt Book Fair, and so sent physical books and electronic materials to Carlton’s customers in the U.S. My duties have included logging in contracts, conducting market research on U.S. publishing houses, filing and updating Carlton’s catalogue. I’m getting a better understanding of the U.S. market and how publishing houses operate there, which will really come in handy should (or, as my parents like to think, when) I return home.

I also have had the opportunity to meet with people in the other departments. I’ve met with people in Production, Marketing, Editorial and Rights, and they tell the other interns and I what their jobs entail. It’s almost like the ‘Publishing Book Camp’ UCL gave us, but with added understanding on my part because they tell me what they do and I can see it and ask them how it all fits in with Carlton’s mission.

Another thing I love is how my co-workers come from all over the world. Again, it’s like the MA Publishing course but on a smaller scale. And I love all of it. Everyone comes from a different background and can offer a unique perspective to the work environment.

Do I see myself pursuing a career in International Sales? Potentially. What I’m coming to find is that I’m interested in so many different areas in publishing. I could really work anywhere and be content, so I guess that’s a great thing to learn because it means I’m in the right place.


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