Learn from a literary magazine intern

Networking helps (but it isn’t what you think)

Literary magazines often prefer to take on someone endorsed by an individual in the industry. In my case, another Carroll alumnus who had been published in Dagan Books was my first connection.

But the old statement “it’s not what you know, it ‘s who you know” is misleading. Networking is not always, or even most of the time, going to power lunches and passing around business cards. It’s about coming across as a reasonable and reliable person in everyday encounters and communication, whether it be email, face-to-face, or over the phone.

Besides, even if you know someone who knows someone who gets you the internship, it might not help you keep it.

Everyone is busy all the time

For a lot of literary magazines, most of the staff and even the editor are volunteers. Everyone involved is usually working one or more other jobs, as well as dealing with family, relationships, and assorted personal emergencies. It helps to be a self-sufficient person who can be shown how to do something and doesn’t need a lot of direct supervision.

So if you have deadlines, meet them. Don’t send emails to your supervisor seven times a day. Be conscientious, but don’t stress out about it. Few people will hold inexperience over your head. Asking intelligent questions helps.

Respect your coworkers

They’ve been doing this longer than you. They may have seen bored, uninterested interns or employees hired in the past. Try to dispel that notion. Your responsibilities and opportunities might then expand as your supervisor or coworkers learn you are a trustworthy person. It’s a useful skill to learn in any work environment.

You don’t always have to enjoy the work. Still, always get something out of it, even if what you’ve learned is that you don’t want to work in that field. You’re gaining job experience, references from coworkers, and the knowledge of how to build those relationships in a professional setting. Use that opportunity.


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