How to Get Ahead Over Summer Vacation

I realize it snowed just a few weeks ago, but for grad students, the spring semester is nearly finished. I have a stack of theses more than 18 inches high on my desk. For those of you who are halfway through your studies, it’s time to think about summer vacation. While most of us want lazy days at the beach or to sip lemonade under a wispy willow tree, grad students should be thinking about how they can better position themselves for their careers.

Grad students (and undergraduates, too) should be planning and securing internships for the months between the spring and fall semesters. Whether or not it is paid or unpaid, an internship will provide you with marketable skills and experience to add to your resume. Building your resume over the summer is crucial to securing a job come next spring.

Keep in mind employers in the publishing industry are looking for well-rounded individuals. Jack Farrell, Managing Director of Jack Farrell & Associates, recruiters for educational, professional, and trade publishing, visited the Acquisitions Editing class last week. He told students to get multiple internships, because it makes them more attractive to potential employers. He also said, “get digital” experience as soon as possible.

What exactly does well-rounded mean? It means that students who concentrate on editorial need to get experience in marketing and visa-versa. We are no longer in a world or industry where jobs are so narrowly focused. An editor needs to understand how a marketer thinks. The cover designer needs to understand what is trending. Marketing personnel need to know what constitutes a “good story.”

Well-rounded also means embracing technology. The summer is a great time for you to “get digital,” if you aren’t already. I would recommend that you start a blog (WordPress is free) and create profiles on social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Tumblr, and Instagram. You don’t have to post everyday, but you should keep up an active presence online.

This summer, go out into the world of publishing and secure an internship, work as hard as you can, learn as much as you can, build your resume, and enhance your digital footprint. Come back in the fall ready to discuss your experiences in the classroom with your professors and your peers.

Have a fun, productive summer!

Anne Converse Willkomm, MFA,
Director, Graduate Publishing Program