How I Got An Internship At HarperCollins | Part 1

Hello, my name is Gabby (short for Gabrielle). I am one of the co-bloggers at The Book's Buzz. You've probably seen some of my reviews floating around on the blog, but today on a more serious note, I will be talking about my experience working at the publishing behemoth, HarperCollins. 

Last year, I interned at HarperCollins during the fall semester of my senior year. The program spanned over 10 weeks. At HarperCollins, I was the Editorial and Design intern for Harper Design. The imprint specializes in “fashion, television, art and popular culture, music, crafts, lifestyle, and interior design” which was a perfect match for me! My internships in the past have also been in design but in different fields such as fashion and media. Little by little, I built up my design experience in and out of school. In this 3-series post, I will be explaining my experience from the initial application to my time at HarperCollins.

This was actually my third round applying for publishing internships. I was studying Packaging Design and torn between working in branding or publishing for my first job out of college. I was lucky to have a schedule with two days off (even though I had a night class on one of them) and thought it was now or never. I knew I wouldn’t be able to have another chance to apply for a publishing internship once I finished school.

For my application, I filled all the required information and included a cover letter and resume (also required). In my one-page cover letter, I wrote about why I wanted to work at HarperCollins (as opposed to other publishers), the skills and experience that proved my capabilities for this role, and my dual love for design and books. Since I was applying for a design position, I also submitted my portfolio (PDF) and website. I would recommend sending a portfolio of your work whether that be writing samples or mock projects that proves your skills and strengths beyond what you say. As I mentioned earlier, I was in Packaging Design and therefore lacked publication work. To supplement my packaging projects, I joined Blush, a “student-run beauty and fashion publication” at school, where I was a layout designer. As a result, I had branding/packaging and publication work, thus I had a lot of projects that I could and pick and choose to include. Participating in the magazine allowed me the unique experience of collaborating with writers and working with an art director (who is an amazing designer and happens to be my BFF!)

I wasn’t betting on anything and to be honest I was afraid of the stress that the internship would bring. However, I received an email from HarperCollins asking me for a quick phone call. Holy crap! This was big! The fact that they even contacted me was a shock.

I remembered taking the call between the shelves in the library filled with nervousness. The recruiter explained to me that the position would be on the adult side with Harper Design. It was a short call about the responsibilities and tasks I would be taking on as an intern. After letting her know that I was still interested, we scheduled a meeting for my interview.

Research your interviewer and the company beforehand so you can go in with some knowledge. I looked at her Linkedin, social media, published work, etc. and found an old article that she wrote about on how to land a job at HarperCollins. I also researched any recent news I could find about the company and imprint. Having background information prepared me for the interview; for example, I could mention the article that she had written. However, I wouldn’t recommend speaking about information found exclusively the interviewer’s social media.

On the day of the interview, I saw Adam Silvera in the lobby which was a nice surprise! When I met with the recruiter, we talked about why I wanted to work here and my experience thus far. An important thing to do at all interviews is to ask questions. What are my responsibilities? Who do I report to? What your favorite part about working here? Engaging with them demonstrates that you are serious about the position and it also helps to clarify any confusion you may have. I actually had a small hiccup in the interview, which I apologized and then took a second to recompose myself. A small mishap is okay — don’t rush, take your time to absorb as much information out of the interview and show them why you are the best person for this job.

Afterward, I met with a member of the Harper Design team. We had a brief conversation about my skills, where I was at currently in school, and I also presented my portfolio. Again, I asked questions such as about the size of the team and the workload. Lastly, I sent a thank you note to both thanking for their time, reiterating my appreciation, and a detail from the interview. A personal detail goes a long way in helping them remember who you are because they interview a lot of people.

...And a day later, I received an email asking for me to call them, so I knew this had to be good news! They called letting me know that I received the internship and I was stunned! I didn’t believe it, really. Immediately after, I messaged Alex letting her know who freaked out a lot more on my behalf.

The whole process took around a month from the initial contact to my starting day. In the next post, I’ll be discussing my experience during the internship. If you have any questions, let me know in the comments and I’ll round them up for a Q&A post at the end!

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