Publishing is a popular career choice for many arts students. A degree is now seen as the minimum entry level requirement (although an MA/ PHD doesn’t guarantee you employment). More important is having some sort of work experience within a publishing house.

Case Study: Kate Pilling, Language Content Intern at HarperCollins

Kate studied English Literature, American & Canadian Studies at the University of Birmingham. After graduating, she interned with HarperCollins in Glasgow, working in the Language Content team to edit dictionaries, thesauruses, and children’s learning books.

The project

“I was lucky to work on an ongoing image research project which involved cross-checking images between dictionaries, identifying issues with licensing, and sourcing and downloading new images to replace old ones. Another project I was involved in was identifying potentially offensive and outdated words – this was a fun but important task. Other duties included proof reading, editing content for new editions, and checking for optimisation of new online content.

“This internship has confirmed to me that I want to pursue a career in the publishing industry”.

During my placement I worked with various programs widely used in publishing such as Entry Editor and Dictionary Production System which developed my understanding of Extensible Markup Language. Entry Editor requires extremely high levels of accuracy so this helped me to hone my attention to detail in a professional, instead of academic, setting”.

The highlights?

“The variety of tasks gave me an insight into what it’s really like to work in publishing and allowed me to develop an array of skills. Another highlight was the archive tour, where I saw some of Collins’ first published books, photographs, and letters from Agatha Christie to her editor”!

Her advice?

“Apply for any internship that interests you, and don’t be put off by thinking that you won’t get the job. Set time aside to write applications; being able to balance university work with applying for jobs shows that you are organised and enthusiastic. During your internship be willing to take on any task, and chat to as many people as you can to gain an insight into their role and the industry”.


Looking for work experience?

Here are a list of some of the publishing houses offering work experience and internship programmes in the UK:

Bloomsbury run a 2/3 week work experience programme; full details can be found here:

Creative Access source and promote internships for UK nationals from black, Asian or non-white ethnic minority backgrounds:

Curtis Brown offer paid internships for 2/3 months

Dorling Kindersley offer work experience placements which typically last 2 weeks: and they say to follow them on Twitter for news on internships @dkbooks

Hachette UK offer work experience across departments: and they suggest joining their Facebook page  and following them on Twitter @HachetteCareers

HarperCollins offer a variety of placement opportunities across the business, including editorial, marketing, digital and technology via their Twitter account @JobsAtHarper. You can also visit their webpage here:

Little Tiger offer work experience placements in the Editorial, Design and Marketing & Publicity departments. These usually last for 2 weeks:

Oxford University Press have a summer internship scheme, which lasts 8 weeks. They also consider individual requests for work experience, which can be made directly to the department in which your interest lies:

Pan Macmillan offer 1 or 2 week unpaid placements on an ad-hoc basis. To apply, please email your CV and covering letter, stating clearly the dates that you are available and the area(s) of the business you are interested in, to: The subject line should read: Work Experience – [Department(s) of interest] (e.g.: Work Experience – Picador; Work Experience – Publicity, Sales).

Penguin Random House have year-round work experience slots of 1-2 weeks’ long: They recommend joining their Facebook page – – and following them on Twitter @PRHCareersUK

Graduating this year?

HarperCollins have a Graduate Scheme which offers trainees a paid 18-month placement across departments: and last year launched their first BAME Traineeship Scheme:

Little, Brown Book Group is running a scheme for graduates. Successful candidates will work across Little, Brown imprints for 2 weeks covering all aspects of entry level work in the publishing industry:

Penguin Random House launched ‘The Scheme’ in 2015, which involves a 13 month paid programme focussing on marketing.

How else can I find opportunities?

Use social media! Publishing week runs from 14th – 18th November and you can follow news on Twitter under #workinpublishing

Make speculative applications to publishing houses that you have a specific interest in

Publishing Interns offer careers advice and regularly updated internships listings on this blog

The Society of Young Publishers – is open to anyone in publishing or who is hoping to be soon. Run by a team of dedicated volunteers, its aim is to help assist, inform and encourage anyone trying to break into the industry or progress within it:

How can I fund my work experience?

The University offers work experience bursaries for any student in their first, second or penultimate year of study:


Ruth Millington, Internship officer, College of Arts and Law