It’s strange what you can become used to in a short space of time. Two weeks ago, for instance, I was just recovering from my final university exam. My ‘recovery’ mainly took the form of Hoovering up any alcohol I had missed in my third-year house and attempting to shush the now frantic inner-scream of “OH GOD, WHAT NOW?” which had been steadily growing in volume since October 2012. I had been promised, somewhat ominously, by John Bond (co-founder of whitefox) that if I came to London to do work experience at whitefox I would be ‘data plotting’. This had sounded soul-crushingly boring and, after a quick phone call to my dad, he had confirmed that yes, it most probably would be. But hey! I’d be in London, I’d be meeting people, and I’d be getting that elusive experience that seems to be the Holy Grail of job applications nowadays (seriously, you can get T-shirts with that message on). I had put down my vodka and Carlsberg mojito and decided to pack.
Two weeks, as I soon discovered, is not a very long time to be involved in whitefox and, indeed, publishing. My internship flew by in a haze of people, figures, articles, tweets, fieldtrips, blogs, meetings, spellchecks, emails and chicken & bacon baguettes (and data-plotting – I am now a data-plotting demon in human form). I learnt quickly (you had to), and was tasked with, thankfully, far more than I thought I really would be (I had taken John at his word when he said I would mainly be updating spread sheets). I went on research trips, I networked, I had interviews; whitefox is all about people and connections, and that became happily evident over the two weeks as I met with and (yes) data-logged an incredible amount of people. My time was so varied and, most importantly, the whitefox team were all extremely encouraging (I think that’s a very important part of interning anywhere – not just getting a few more lines to add to your CV, but gaining a knowledge that you can do effective work in the ‘real world’ without breaking anything or tripping up).
An internship is a bit like jumping, head first, into an ocean when you’ve just about earned your 50 metres badge, and then being hooked out again when you’re just beginning to find your stroke.
I’m back in York again and feeling like a fish out of water (I’ll stop with the water similes soon, I promise). I’ve had some time, and another vodka and Carlsberg mojito, and the “OH GOD, WHAT NOW?” voice in my head has been substantively muffled… for the time being. There is a definite problem for graduates – their lack of experience in professional fields can pose problems when trying to gain employment, which means they may have to undertake mini-internships like I have. whitefox are going some way to alleviating that problem for graduates who are hoping to get into the publishing industry by introducing a ‘Summer Camp’ this year which will feature workshops inside the business. I’ve got a place (at least I bloody hope I have) and everything crossed that, in the long run, I’ll be able to get my first permanent job in publishing… Wish me luck.