Writing and Editing Internships

Writing and editing internships inhabit the blurred line between education and employment, allowing students to gain experience in the workplace while still studying.

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Writing and Editing Internships and Industry Experience

I am Brienna Cottam, and this semester as part of my bachelor’s requirements I have undertaken an external industry placement, otherwise known as an internship, work experience or even practical placement. So, for the last 10 weeks I have been interning under Gail Tagarro at editors4you/WriteDesign Publications, learning more than I had thought possible and expanding my knowledge of the industry.

Writing and editing internships are invaluable for several reasons, whether it’s a university requirement, high school assessment or even just to get a head start in your chosen field. However, finding a suitable position and business to host your internship is not always easy.

It took me a few weeks to both find and organise an internship suitable for my course, however some of my peers took months and others never managed to find one at all in the allotted time. The availability and chances of gaining an internship can depend heavily on the time of year, your chosen industry role or career and the requirements you need to meet. Finding a position that was solely focused on the editorial aspect of the industry was quite difficult as I couldn’t find many editing-specific businesses. Publishers, magazines and news outlets seemed to be the most popular among my peers, and my research throughout the initial stages reinforced this.

So Why are Writing and Editing Internships Important?

Firstly, you are able to take your academic knowledge and all the research you have completed and apply it in the real world, allowing yourself to experience firsthand exactly what you’ve been learning about. This in turn gives you the opportunity to decide on your future career path and see where you can go within the industry. You experience the different roles and skills that can be achieved and are able to decide whether you want to continue in the industry now that you have personally experienced it. Depending on where and who you intern under, you may also find invaluable industry contacts that can be useful when it comes time to start your career.

The life experience and knowledge garnered from undertaking a writing and editing internship aren’t just another thing to throw on your resume and forget about. An internship can greatly enhance your employment chances. For most, work experience is simply something that looks good on their resume, and that they must complete throughout their schooling. Very rarely do people expand on their experience and use it to their advantage.

Who Can Undertake Writing and Editing Internships?

Internships are not always just about trying to get a good grade point average, or meeting course requirements. They can also be immensely helpful for those looking at a possible career change, or wanting to experience different roles within their current industry. This can benefit the internee in many ways, from widening their knowledge to advancing their chances of a promotion. That said, most internships are unpaid, which can affect the hours and availability of many who choose to undertake them.

Balancing Work, Study and Writing and Editing Internships

Trying to balance university or school with a job is hard enough. However, throw an internship into the mix and you better have some decent time management skills and a passion for what you’re doing. Having a set schedule for work is extremely helpful in situations like this, however like me, many students have casual work and struggle to manage work, an internship and study.

I found the first few weeks of both the semester and my internship quite stressful, as I started a new casual job at the same time as my internship and it was also the beginning of my final semester of university. Many institutions specify the time per week they expect students to spend on course content and assessment, the average being approximately 10 hours per class. This all made it quite hard to organise my weeks in advance, however I benefited vastly from my job’s 24/7 operating hours and their system that allowed me to roster off certain times and reserve it for study or internships. Many may not be as lucky but with careful planning and full awareness of your obligations, it can be done.

Looking for Writing and Editing Internships

It is often challenging to find an internship in your preferred field at the time you need it, especially one as specific as a writing and editing internship. I was incredibly lucky that I found mine in time. It is always helpful to know the requirements and type of internship you would like or need to undertake long before it comes time to look for one. This gives you the opportunity to look, research and decide on the internship that is best for you. It may take many weeks or even months to find an internship that works for you in a business that is willing to take you on.

Within my cohort, many only managed to find placement with newspapers or magazines, rather than with a business that they were more likely to enter after graduating, or that they preferred to work in. That being said, approximately half of my cohort never managed to find a placement at all, and as such had to complete an on-campus internship. This may not always be an option; it depends entirely on the way your learning institution has structured the course and what their requirements are. Many may assist with the process of finding external placement. However some, such as mine, require the student to source their own.

Internships with a self-employed freelance editor are quite rare and I was incredibly lucky to land one with Gail Tagarro at editors4you. It provided me with much more one-on-one learning and involvement and I have been able to observe how an editorial business is managed.

Some people may look into writing and editing internships for the sole purpose of getting their own manuscript to another level. This is a valid reason, however they would benefit more from writer coaching than an internship. (See here for more about writer coaching: https://editors4you.com.au/book-writing-coach/).

Tips for Approaching a Business

The prospect of approaching a business can be quite daunting, especially for a student or young adult. Even the simple thought of sending an email can be nerve-racking for some. Researching the company beforehand is a vital part of the process, and if you are looking into the publishing industry, research what type of publisher they are. (See the following links for more information: https://editors4you.com.au/how-can-i-publish-my-book-what-are-my-options/ and https://editors4you.com.au/how-to-get-your-book-published/).

It is important to understand the business you are approaching and how they prefer to receive enquiries. Some may prefer email contact while others may prefer calls or meeting in person. It is also useful to know what they are looking for in an intern and details of the role they can offer. Here are some tips when it comes to that dreaded initial contact.

  • Always be professional and courteous.
  • Research the business and understand what they do.
  • Use your applications and email correspondence as an example of your character and your work. Showcase your ability to be professional, your excellent grammar and punctuation and of course your attitude towards the industry and internship.
  • Always be punctual with replies and follow up on any queries you may have. This demonstrates your eagerness in and understanding of the role.


Rarely will an internship follow the clichéd portrayal as seen on television or in the movies, media and books. Many of these show them as mindless minions running errands and fetching coffee. This should not be the case. My writing and editing internship taught me far more than sitting in a classroom ever could. It opened my eyes to the complexity and fulfilling roles I can achieve within the industry. I was introduced to more than I ever thought was involved in editing, and this reinforced my decision surrounding my future career path. There have been ups and downs and roundabouts, juggling the internship, study and work, and I am still learning and figuring out my way through the wide world of publishing and editing. However now, I have a clearer direction than I had before my internship.

Logo for Institute of Professional Editors
Gail Tagarro, IPEd Accredited Editor (AE)

Ask about our WRITING and SELF-PUBLISHING PACKAGES. From go to whoa if you like, and anything in between, our packages can be tailored to include Book Coaching, Writer Coaching, Editing, Book Layout and Design, and Book Printing.

WriteDesign Publications (WDP) is a writing and self-publishing consultancy. It is affiliated with editors4you (established 2006), which provides professional editorial services such as book editing and proofreading. Together, WDP and editors4you provide an end-to-end service to writers and business owners.


  1. Marisa Trigger says

    A great article, Brienna. I too benefitted from Gail Tagarro’s wealth of experience when she mentored me through the Institute of Professional Editors’ mentorship program. I doubt I could have made the successful mature-age career transition to editing without it.

    • That’s so lovely Marisa! Thanks for taking the time to comment. I’ll pass it on to Brienna. It was a pleasure helping you transition to a new career. I gave you some pretty hard work to do and you coped admirably! Hopefully catch up at GenreCon The Night Market event on Fri 22nd Nov where I’ll be launching my novel! Or at an editors’ event. Take care. Gail

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