I always thought writing was what I would pursue after graduating college. Or maybe I would go into publishing — if I couldn’t be a published writer, I would publish writers. I worked on my high school newspaper for two years as an editor and a writer and later on as Editor-in-Chief for some time. In my own time, I wrote short stories, poems, and articles for my blog. It seemed natural that I should seek out a job that honed in on these skills.
My first experience as an intern was for a publishing company in Los Angeles. As an editorial intern, my responsibilities included proofreading, fact checking, and preparing manuscripts for publication. I worked directly with the lead editors and publicity directors in making sure the formatting, style, and content of the writing was ready to be sent out to printing companies and sold to various independent bookstores. During my time as an intern, I saw several books I had worked on go through the publishing process from start to finish, all the way from the typos to the bookshelves. A few months after I had left the company, I remember walking into Skylight Books in Los Feliz and seeing a book I had reviewed sitting on the bookshelf, waiting to be purchased and read. At that moment I realized the work I had done carried meaning and it wasn’t just another unpaid internship I could slap on my resume to impress employers. I had contributed to a writer’s work, however small of a contribution it may have been.
While I enjoyed my experience as an editorial intern, I knew that publishing wasn’t my calling. I wanted something more exciting, more challenging. I needed a job that would present me with a new problem every day. I also wanted to be on the other end of the publishing process; I wanted to be the writer.
Now in my junior year of college, I still don’t have a clear sense of what I will be doing in two years. I don’t regret my internship — it was more of a positive learning experience as it helped me decide what I don’t want to pursue in my work life. Not all internships will follow a linear path to the life you’ve been planning and preparing for. It may take one job to make you realize what you don’t want, bringing you one step closer to what you do want.