Every year, as we emerge from winter, we welcome a blizzard of applications for our summer intern scheme. The internships we offer give a proper insight into real work at a publishing company, and they’re an incredibly useful way for us to find talented people. The internships are really popular – hardly surprising, as publishing is a highly competitive field. But it’s more than that. Here we treat interns like any other member of staff – there’s no incessant photocopying and no requirement to make the coffee!
Interns work on genuine projects from the beginning, making a valuable contribution to the whole business. Even better, we pay our interns a living wage, which isn’t always the case in publishing. And, if further proof were needed, we have a Gold Good Practice Award for Investors in Young People, showing that we’re committed to helping young employees develop within the company.
So, what’s it like to decide who to pick from hundreds of applicants? As someone who was involved with recruiting our interns for three consecutive years, I can give a few insights.
First, we look for someone who stands out on paper. Our business requires a great deal of attention to detail, and we need to see that anyone who wants to work here understands that. There’s no point in somebody telling us they’re amazing at spotting errors if their cover letter is littered with them. In addition, we like people who are keen to work here. It’s a small company and so everyone has a big impact, no matter what their role is.
Next, once we have our shortlist, we whittle it right down until we have the top five or six we really want to meet. This is much harder than it might sound. We can easily have a dozen people who all seem a perfect fit. Instinct plays a big part here; I’ve worked at the company for over seven years, so by now I feel I can often quite easily pick out a ‘Prepress person’ even without having met them!
Once the cream of the crop has been chosen, it’s time for the interviews. The first time I interviewed someone, I’m pretty sure I was more nervous than the candidate! The responsibility of choosing a good employee for the company, and also of making sure all the candidates had a good experience and a fair shot, felt pretty heavy. However, I soon found that I really enjoyed the process, as it encompassed many things I find rewarding: meeting interesting people and finding out about their lives; assessing editing skills; and being involved in an important task for the company. I also learned a lot on a personal level, especially that a pile of great cover letters is one thing, but talking to someone in person can make all the difference. For example, in 2016, we had already met a few good candidates and were pretty sure how we felt about them when we interviewed one person who immediately shot to the top of our list and upended all our previous thoughts (that person was Lieke, who is now a project leader with us – sadly, there’s no finder’s fee!).
Without doubt the best part of the process is telling the successful candidate they’ve got the job. It’s a great privilege and pleasure, and still one of the best experiences I’ve had at Prepress. It’s also fantastic to watch someone start as an intern and develop into a fully fledged full-time employee, in turn training new interns and passing on their experience. It’s vital that these kinds of opportunities are offered in the publishing industry, and I’m proud to work at a company that does it so well.