I opened my NoteFromTheIntern to find a lovely comment from Serena in Italy. Initially, I thought I’d email her, but decided to post an open response instead. Someone else might find my advice useful, or (more likely) someone else in the bloggesphere could have much more relevant and interesting advice than me. So please feel free to comment and add to anything I’ve posted.
Glasgow is a really beautiful city, and since you’ve already lived there you’d probably have an easier time adjusting than I did.
I have met many interns since starting my placement, and they’ve had much happier stories than I do. I think overall, doing a placement is a good idea. Not only has my placement provided me with a foot into the publishing world (I hope), despite my complaining and whining, I’ve acquired valuable skills that I can transfer to almost any job.
My recommendation to you (or anyone who is reading), is to not take an unpaid placement that lasts over a couple of months. In hindsight, a full-time six month placement is too long to work for a company and be unpaid. While it has allowed me to see projects through to the end, and I’ve gotten an insight into publishing that a shorter placement wouldn’t have provided, using someone for six months as a volunteer is slightly taking advantage. However, a part-time placement over six months may be a better option, as it would allow you to work. Also, I have heard of people doing several different internships over the course of six months: two weeks at one place, a month at another, a few days at another. (Usually, I’ve noticed that its journalism placements that work this way.) This gives them the opportunity to see what is out there and gain experience from different types of organisations. And of course, finding that paid placement would be the best situation.
I would also recommend looking up all the publishers in Glasgow, and if they don’t have placements advertised (and some will), simply sending them a letter of interest. Ask them if they have placement programmes, how to apply, or if they don’t have official internships ask if you can volunteer for a few weeks.
I hope this helps. Good luck, and please do keep in touch.
PS-There is currently a strong backlash in the UK against using unpaid interns. Not only does it encourage the tradition of only advancing the careers of the upper/middle classes, while discouraging a class of people who cannot afford to go without paid work, a lot of organisations are using interns as a way to budget. In a time when newspapers and publishers are cutting salaries and implementing hiring freezes, many interns are being taken advantage of and used as unpaid staff. If you are interested in this debate, go to Interns Anonymous.