So You Want to Work in Publishing?

Beginning a career in publishing can be an extremely daunting. Despite warnings that “publishing is dying,” it seems like more and more students are setting their sights on a career in magazine journalism, book publishing, and the like. But entering the industry is easier said than done, especially considering that many positions are often in New York City and filled based on “who you know.” But never fear, there are many creative ways of entering the publishing industry that are entirely realistic for college students. Read on for five opportunities that college students interested in publishing should look out for to begin an exciting book, magazine, or media career.

-Explore your university: Many schools have academic publishing houses that offer internships or fellowships for students attending the university. If you’re interested in book or journal publishing, this can be a great way to get your feet wet. I currently work as a Marketing Assistant at the Johns Hopkins University Press, and I’ve learned so much about about the publishing industry! The University of Texas also has a great program available only to alumni that allows graduates to work for a year at the Press with a concentration in either Editorial or Marketing. You school may have a similar internship or fellowship available to you!

A great internship opportunity could be right under your nose! (from


-Freelance, freelance, freelance: Reach out to the HR departments small newspapers or magazines and see if they offer freelance opportunities. Come prepared with writing samples from school newspaper to show just how talented you are. There are many ways of translating a free-lance gig into a career. Showing a magazine your writing skills is the first step to getting hired. Plus, according to Matt Keener, a contributor at Entrepreneur, “One billion dollars — that’s how much had been paid to freelancers via the oDesk platform in 2013. And the company forecast that its online work market will be worth $5 billion by 2018.-local magazines.” In other words, oftentimes, it pays to freelance. 

-Look Outside the Big Apple: You always hear how New York City is the center of publishing, and in many ways that is true. But don’t forget there are equally exciting opportunities elsewhere. For example, take Rodale, home of Men’s Health, Women’s Health, Runner’s World, Bicycling, etc. I’ve interned at their headquarters in small town Emmaus, PA, which has a much lower cost of living than New York. Another example is the Southern Progress Corporation, located in Birmingham, AL, which publishes top magazines like Southern Living and Coastal Living. If relocating to New York is just not realistic for you, search for other, more financially accessible options.

Emmanus Building

Rural Rodale Headquarters in Emmaus, PA (from


-Look Local: Piggybacking off the suggestion, look for a local metropolitan magazine to intern with, if your dream is breaking into the magazine industry. For instance, Philadelphia has two fantastic local magazines, Philadelphia and Main Line Today. If you’re going to school in Philly, look into possible internships at these magazines. I can speak from personal experience- I learned so much about magazine editorial while working for Baltimore magazine!

-Or look online: Sometimes, it’s just not possible to commute to a city for work or even find a local publication to intern with. But in the last few years, online internships have been becoming more and more popular. You can begin to learn the publishing business all from the comfort of your dorm with online editorial internships where you can still be responsible for writing and fact-checking articles. For example, the Matador Network offers internships for those interested in travel writing that are entirely virtual! If you seek out opportunities like this, breaking into the publishing industry becomes a whole lot easier.