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So you want to work in publishing? : Intern’s story – Hannah Abrahaley at Critical Publishing

In this blog piece, Hannah Abrahaley shares her experience as a Creative Access intern and talks about how took her first steps into the book publishing sector. Hannah is currently interning at Critical Publishing. 

Hi everyone! I’m Hannah. I have a 2:1 in English Literature from a respectable university, a full and diverse list of extra-curricular activities and a genuine love of books. It should be fairly easy for me to score some sort of graduate entry-level job in the publishing industry right?


The truth is I spent the whole of my final year at university applying for jobs in publishing houses ranging from basic administrative roles all the way to editorial and proof-reading jobs. I applied to everything I could- the ‘unsuccessful’ folder on my USB was actually quite a depressing sight.
And these applications weren’t half-hearted either! Most of them took days, some even weeks, to conjure up the perfect cover letter with a well-tailored CV to match.

After a while it became absolutely clear to me that I needed experience in the publishing world. I needed someone somewhere to hand me that first opportunity. The problem is, like in any highly competitive industry, most of these necessary “experiences” were unpaid. I personally disagree with the concept of unpaid internships; the idea that someone should have to work anywhere for free is simply wrong!

Anyway, let’s not get side-tracked. So there I am, with about twenty unsuccessful applications in my folder, moaning to my friends at Wahaca (a very fun restaurant- I definitely recommend it) about how I’m going to have to start looking for unpaid internships when Hayley, one of the friend’s at dinner, mentions Creative Access to me. For the record Hayley is also an English graduate who spent a year doing unpaid internships in publishing houses- she now has a paid job in the industry and is happy but still, a year of hard work for no pay!? How ridiculous.

Hayley explained that Creative Access was an organisation looking to provide opportunities for paid internships in the creative industries for under-represented ethnicities. So I went home that night and immediately jumped on Google to see what I could find.
Let’s skip a month or so ahead. I applied to three internships, all of which I had been invited to the second stage of (the interview) and landed my first (paid) role in September at Critical Publishing. Fast work, right?

I am now four months into my (originally) 6-month internship- it has recently been extended, and I love it! Critical Publishing is a small company publishing books in social work and education with about sixty books under its belt (and many more in the pipe-line) since being established in 2012.

Working within a small company has given me so many opportunities to learn and even set my own projects- I take care of the monthly newsletters we send out to about thirteen thousand subscribers. I also look after the Twitter and Facebook accounts, narrate The Critical Blog and I have even set up the company’s new Instagram page!

I liaise with authors, lecturers, trainee teachers and social work students on a daily basis and I’ve learnt so much not just about the education and social work world, but about what it takes to run a successful publishing house, from the bottom up! I recently even managed to get two of our books reviewed in Early Years Educator magazine and now have developed a great working relationship with the editor to hopefully ensure more of our books feature in the future! There is so much opportunity to grow, to explore the areas that interest you most and to learn and I am hugely grateful to Critical Publishing and of course to Creative Access for giving me the opportunity to do just that.

I don’t know whether I’m in any sort of place to give advice, but I want to take this opportunity to tell everyone who’s looking for some experience, to keep going and do not stop: seek advice, adapt your approach and change tactics if necessary but don’t stop!

To my fellow Creative Access interns, one day I hope to be in a position to be able to give people opportunities and I’m sure many of you aspire to that too – so make sure when this happens, that you give a recent graduate with a respectable degree, some interesting extra-curricular activities and a whole lot of passion a way in.