What it’s like working in a publishing house: My Internship experience

Is working in a publishing house worth it?

I got a call from Orient Blackswan 3 months before my internship date and was offered a general internship which meant I would be working under all departments. I have been a reader and book blogger since quite a few years now, and have been wanting to get into the publishing field. Getting a call for an internship was definitely one of the highlights of my year, and as I waited for November to arrive, there were several thoughts running through my mind. See, when you’re finally getting to do something you’re passionate about, there’s always two outcomes; you either realize  this is what you’re meant to do or you’re hit by a  gut wrenching feeling that your dream wasn’t really yours to begin with. I can safely say it was the former for me.

On my first day, I was handed a schedule which gave me an idea of the number of days I’d be working in each department. I think that kind of set the tone for me because it helped me mentally prepare myself.  Now, I’m going to give you a detailed account of what I did in each department, and what I learnt from it. This is going to be a long post, so grab a cup of tea, relax and keep reading.  (The department’s are mentioned in no particular order so whichever dept appeals to you the most just head on to it).

  • ADMINISTRATION:
  • DURATION: 1 DAY

When you’re about to start an internship you’ve been dreaming about, the nerves run high. Naturally, I was shitting bricks but at the same time had the energy of 50 toddlers combined (don’t ask me how I know this). My first day was spent understanding the workings of the Administration dept. They’re responsible for ensuring the smooth functioning of the organization whilst tending to individual needs. To be honest, I didn’t do much on this particular day except lounge around and read books. You thought I wouldn’t exploit the fact that I was surrounded by books 24/7?

  • EDITORIAL
  • DURATION: 11 DAYS

Being a book editor has been a lifelong dream, and I had been dying (okay, exaggeration) to work under the Editorial department. It was everything I had imagined and a little bit more. I was lucky enough to be surrounded by extremely talented, kind and energetic people who made the entire experience worthwhile. I spent most of my days laughing with the editorial team (who by the way are amazing, haven’t I already mentioned it?), while at the same time learning a lot about the process of editing. I remember leaving the office at the stipulated time with the editorial team still working relentlessly. They would often work over time and still clock in the next day without being late.

When it comes to publishing houses who publish academic books such OBS,  the editorial department is divided into schools, Higher Academics (HS) and Social Sciences (Fiction and non-fiction books for colleges and general reading).

Schools: While working under the ELT department, I was introduced to novel concepts in the field of publishing. From deciding the content of the children’s text books to putting text-appropriate illustrations, and making smart-books, there are a lot of factors that need to be considered. I think I started questioning my ability as a writer and reader, when I had to write summaries of poems for standard 6. It was a nightmare. I mean, I am not the kind who likes poems leave alone understand them and write a detailed explanation of why the clouds were black and not blue. But I really had no choice but to pen down everything I could decipher.

Since technology is being introduced in education, and in the classroom setup, school books are now accompanied by presentations on various topics. The idea here was to make picture galleries for each topic to enable better understanding for the students. I made a number of presentations, which was so damn hard because you have to get into the details of each chapter and find an illustration that’s not only appropriate but is also copy-righted. I think towards the end, I almost lost my mind. But it was something I had not anticipated, and it definitely gave an insight into the editing department.

Social Sciences (HA):  On my first day with the social sciences department, I was handed an Editor’s manual along with Chicago Manual of Style and Judith Butcher’s Copy-editing Manual by my mentor. I was to read through the manuals, understand and comprehend how a manuscript is proofread, how it is copy-edited and the various stages of editing. Being able to study the techniques and processes involved in editing was a surreal moment. I was lucky to have a mentor whose insights about the publishing industry were invaluable to me. Not only did she constantly encourage me to improve myself, she also cleared a number of concepts I was confused about.
I was given a number of typed-pages to proofread and copy-edit. I also learnt how referencing is done in a book and how they differ if it’s a novel, journal or a magazine. During the second day in this department, I was asked to write a blurb for the book, “Field of Sports”. To say I was thrilled would be an understatement. After reading the book thoroughly and understanding what the book was offering, I wrote the blurb which was approved by my mentor. I also spilled a cup of coffee very elegantly on my work table, thereby displaying my competency in clumsiness and inability in settling into the adult life.

Not just this, AND THIS IS MY FAVORITE PART,  I had the opportunity of proofreading a manuscript, ‘Agnipariksha’ which is now a published book. When I was asked to proofread it, I could hear music playing in the background while a cool, soft breeze was flowing through my hair, and in that moment I knew I had found true love. It was really romantic.

P.S: If you’re interested you can read the review of Agnipariksha here: Agnipariksha by Hamid Kureshi: Translated by Rita Kothari

  • STOCKS & SERVICING:
  • DURATION: 1 DAY

Okay, so here I got to visit the warehouse, and it’s everything dreams are made of. Now stocks and servicing can get a little tricky so try to stay with me.

This department keeps a detailed account of the number of books that come in and are sent out for delivery.  I was explained how the books are maintained in the warehouse. Keeping a track of thousands of books is not easy. Therefore, every order that comes in is put into the system. An invoice is prepared against an order and all the details are stored in the office computer. A copy of the same is sent to the customer. After the orders are received, the books are prepared to be sent to the destined location. They have to be packed and wrapped carefully lest they’re destroyed in transit. The mode of transport depends on the kind of order. If it’s a bulk order, then the books are delivered through Lorry or Railways.
When the consignment is released, the physical stock is checked as per IBSTI. If the stock has been returned, they are tallied against their ISBN number, price tag, titles and the number of copies being returned. The unsold books are sent for pulping in order to make room for new stock. During book launches, events, workshops or seminars, the books are provided by this department after signing the requisition form.
I KNOW, RIGHT? Half of the things went tangent over my head, too. But it’s okay. While I was there, and when I wasn’t staring at all the books, I asked a LOT of questions and most of them were very stupid but heyyy that’s how we learn, don’t we?

  • PRODUCTION
  • DURATION: 2 DAYS

The production department, as I learnt, entails a lot of responsibilities. My mentor was extremely kind to give an in-depth overview of how production in a publishing house takes place. This department is responsible for the design, layout, printing, and for e-book coding of the finished book. It was interesting to learn the various paper-sizes and their names, the multiple book sizes now used in the publishing industry and how there has been a huge transition in the method of printing. The production department has to print books that are not only cost-effective but also high in quality.
I learnt how to choose the correct paper size of a book, along with understanding how to measure the book size.

Not going to lie, I was unaware of the technical aspects when it came to publishing a book. I never bothered finding out HOW a book is published, and it was extremely informative.

  • MARKETING
  • DURATION: 1 DAY

Starting with the marketing strategies for individual books, my mentor explained how the books were promoted in the general market, in this case schools. Marketing touches all aspects of publishing and book selling. This department develops creative marketing campaigns which include conducting workshops, seminars, book launches and bookstore displays.
My task was to create a list of the number of activities in math books (class 5, 6, 7 and 8) and create a power point presentation on how best to market and promote the upcoming Magnolia English Reader Series. During this time, I learnt how important it was for the marketing team to be creative, think ahead of time and be ready to come with new ideas to market their books.

  • SALES:
  • DURATION: 7 DAYS

Sales department sucked all the energy out of me because it is HARD-WORK. It is the responsibility of the sales department to get the book in the hands of booksellers, other retailers and mainly the target customers. From there, the book goes on to be sold to the customer.
I learnt the various stages of sales; pitching to target customers, distribution of the books and Recovery of sales and meeting the yearly target. For this the sales team has to do a lot of field work and remain in close contact with potential customers (here, colleges, and schools).
I visited approximately 9 schools, and the idea was to pitch all the new releases to the principal. It was exhausting, and involved a lot of travelling and waiting. But again, I would have never imagined the amount of effort it goes into spreading word of mouth about books.

 

 

After I had successfully worked under all departments, I was required to make a report on my experience and the work I did each day. I didn’t want to leave but as they say all good things come to an end. I said my goodbyes and left with a huge smile on my face because I was a happy little bunny who got to live her dream even though it was for short while.

If there’s one thing I’ve learnt in my short span of working in the professional field, it’s that you HAVE to do what you like to do even if it’s not in your full capacity. I understand the restraints life brings but even if you spend an hour of your day doing what you’re passionate about, the chances of you being closer to your dream will increase, and in a world where happiness is so scarce who wouldn’t want to grab that tiny amount of immense joy and hold onto it, right?

 

Marketing Internship with Ambuja Neotia Group

What I gained while interning at the biggest Real Estate giants of Bengal.

I was about to complete my post-graduation in Mass Communication and Public Relations from St.Xavier’s college when I heard about The Telegraph You Internship Programme, 2016. By now the anxiety and dread of applying for internships and jobs had caught up with me and I was looking for opportunities that would help me kick start my career. Also, I had previously applied for The Telegraph You Internship Programme, 2015, but as luck would have it, I wasn’t selected. Determined to get through this time, I took extra-steps to ensure my answers stood out while filling the online application form. Although the chances of getting selected were not very high, I didn’t have much to lose. The final list of the selected candidates would be put up on the Telegraph YOU page. During this time, I started interning at another company although my mind kept reverting to the Telegraph Internship Programme.

Fast forward to June, I see my name on the list of selected candidates who were to appear for GD and then PI. I was ecstatic, to be extremely honest. But the anxiety didn’t end there. I still had a long way to go. I received a call informing me of the venue for GD and PI and the relevant documents that I had to carry.

I started early for my big day (If i can call it so), but since the universe likes playing with my emotions, the taxi driver took a detour and I reached late. I didn’t think it would matter much but boy oh boy was I wrong. On reaching Conclave Hotel, I saw everyone already seated , the names of the groups for GD  were announced, the process about to begin. Saying I panicked would be an understatement. “Is this the time to reach?” was the reply I got when I inquired about the group I was placed in.  I deserved it.

Pro tip: Never ever reach late for interviews. Punctuality is the key.

While we were seated, I looked around to find most students frantically searching for topics and reading the latest news to prepare themselves for GD. I panicked, again. I was not prepared for this; looking back it makes me laugh but at that point of time, it felt like a matter of life and death. As predicted, I took out my phone and did the same. Slowly, the groups were called and the process began.

The topic for GD revolved around freedom of speech (the infamous snapchat story of Tanmay Bhatt) which further transitioned into a parliamentary debate. It was interesting to see how we as students were ready to do anything to get our points across. Shouting and screaming was the order of the day. We had to stand out, you see, even if that meant going against the whole notion of “let’s agree to disagree”. The panelists were patient throughout with occasional nods wondering which part of the world we had come from. The group discussion ended with all the parties in complete disregard to the opinion of others. I was satisfied.

Pro tip: During group discussions instead of talking down others try to come up with rebuttals. You’ll earn brownie points. 

Since there were 10 groups consisting of 10 members each, I still had a lot of time to pass before the names of the candidates for PI was to be announced. I took the time to get to know other candidates. It was interesting to note that there were people from multifarious academic backgrounds. Science, Humanities, Commerce, you name it. Learning about their subjects, their ambitions, their interest in the internship broadened my horizon. Telegraph had managed to bring people from different academic interests under one umbrella.

It was finally time . The list of candidates for PI was announced. I got through. The personal interview was intimidating, a lot of questions were asked, the interviewers didn’t seem remotely impressed by my answers. After the interview, I was very sure I would not be selected. My interview lasted for less than 5 minutes.

To cut the story short, after a lot of waiting, the final list of 20 selected candidates was put up on the Telegraph YOU Facebook page. I WAS SELECTED FOR THE INTERNSHIP PROGRAMME. I danced a mini dance and celebrated in the most cliched way. At this point, I still didn’t know where I would be interning since Telegraph YOU had partnered with 5 other companies; The Telegraph, Ambuja Neotia, CESC Limited, 91.9 Friends FM & J.Walter Thompson. I got an email stating that I would be interning at Ambuja Neotia Group but before that I would have to go for another interview round conducted by Ambuja Neotia. I was in a daze. I had my fair share of interviews already and being grilled by the biggest real estate giants of Kolkata wasn’t very appealing. The date for the interview was set and I was nervous. Firstly, I come from an arts background. Secondly, I got selected for a marketing Internship. Thirdly, I didn’t know anything about Real Estate. I still decided to give it a shot. I had come so far and going back wasn’t really an option.

Pro tip: Grab any opportunity where there is scope for knowledge. You’ll learn as you go forward. 

I reached EcoSpace on time (learning from previous disasters, ha!). Other candidates who were to be my co-interns had reached before me. One by one, the interviews began. I was interviewed by the Marketing head of Ambuja Neotia group; A man with high competence, dexterity and passion for his work. The questions he asked were relevant to the present scenario of Bengal, the pros and cons of living in the city, what I thought about job opportunities for the youth of bengal  and the changes I could bring in the city, if given a chance. I answered with utmost sincerity and honesty. He seemed unimpressed and I wasn’t even surprised. Once again, my interview lasted for less than 5 minutes.

The following evening, I received a call by the Brand Manager of Telegraph, stating that my interview went well and I would be interning at Ambuja Neotia from 11th July. I sighed a sigh of relief. I was still apprehensive about the internship.

11th july, 2016: My office is located in EcoSpace which is in New Town and is the smart city of  Bengal. It is a beautiful place with multiple facilities, vast expanse of greenery and several eating joints. EcoSpace has also been built by Ambuja Neotia Group. On stepping foot in ecospace, I knew it would be a lifetime experience.

Since we were complete noobs when it came to Real Estate, our first few days were spent understanding the concepts of Real Estate. The other co-interns were also from different backgrounds. One of them had studied engineering from Heritage Institute of Technology, one was in the third year of college pursuing Economics from Scottish Church and the third was from St.Xaviers studying B.com. The marketing managers at Ambuja were always very helpful and who were our mentors throughout the internship. We were taught about the basics of RE , the market trends, how to compare the prices of different housing projects, our competitors & how to talk to realtors of established companies. Our main job was to research on the upcoming as well existing housing projects in New Town & Rajarhat along with E.M Bypass. Since there were 4 of us, we were divided into two teams. My co-intern and I were to cover the entire Rajarhat & New Town area, talk to the marketing managers of the housing projects, compare the prices and make a presentation. The job required us to visit the housing projects. It was a daunting task since there were around 15-20 projects in Rajarhat alone and we had to cover almost all of them.

Pro tip: Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Doesn’t matter if you did not understand a concept.

Days went by quickly, each of us busy working and preparing presentations. After two weeks had passed and we had learnt a little about RE, the marketing manager then proceeded to teach us how to deal with Developers. We were given the contact information of a number of consultants. Our task was to interview them and collect as much information as possible. I realised, at this point, that all of the interns were working out of their comfort zones and were putting in their best. None of us had any idea about Real Estate but we were ready to learn. We got the chance to visit the construction site of, “Uttalika”, the upcoming luxury housing project by Ambuja Neotia. The experience was surreal as we saw the working of a real estate housing project.

One particular working day, one of the marketing managers spent a considerable amount of time talking to us about his experiences and his journey. The entire evening was spent talking about the struggles of life, about the little things that matter the most and how determination and love for what you do is rewarding. We were grateful for him to take out time from his otherwise busy schedule to teach us valuable life lessons. These lessons are engraved in our minds.

Pro Tip: Stay humble, no matter where you are or what you do. 

We had to redo our presentations more than 7 -8 times because the marketing manager was not happy with the result. The final presentation was to be seen by the boss- The Marketing Head , hence, we were striving for perfection. By the end of the month , our final presentations, were to be reviewed by the entire marketing team. It was nerve-wracking as we had to explain our workings and cite examples of how we reached a particular conclusion in front of corporate professionals, highly competent, in their fields. On the final day, we gave our presentations and to our surprise the mangers were quite impressed. By now, we had picked up on the market trends and were able to address the questions asked by the Marketing head. After all, we spent an entire month brainstorming. We were happy. Our hard work had paid off.

A month flew by in a jiffy. We packed our bags, thanked our mentors, received the internship certificates and were ready to leave. It felt good. The kind of good that is sure to stay with you, something that you’re going to keep referring to, a journey you did not  anticipate but one that has changed you.