Past a pair of revolving doors on 6th Avenue lies the gold-plated lobby of Simon & Schuster, one of the most highly-regarded houses in the industry. The company was founded by Richard L. (Dick) Simon and M. Lincoln (Max) Schuster in 1924 and, historically speaking, was the first publisher to apply mass-market production techniques to books. In 1939, it helped orchestrate one of the most profound changes in the history of the industry – the “paperback revolution” – and the company continues to trailblaze today. In 2016, for example, Simon & Schuster’s Children’s Division introduced Salaam Reads, an imprint that “aims to introduce readers of all faiths and backgrounds to a wide variety of Muslim children and families and offer Muslim kids an opportunity to see themselves reflected positively in published works.”
To date, Simon & Schuster titles have received 56 Pulitzer Prizes, 17 National Book Awards, and 10 National Book Critics Circle Awards. It publishes 2000 books each year and is home to a number of distinguished imprints like Scribner, Atria Books, Touchstone Books, and North Star Way.
On October 19, 2017, a group of 25 undergraduate and Master’s students from Pace University filed into the Simon & Schuster building, intent on learning more about one of the “Big 5.” Inside a conference room filled with paperback and hardcover books, the class was welcomed by Joy Bertan, the house’s Director of Talent Acquisition and Diversity Initiatives.
“This is a passion-driven business,” Bertan said at the start of her presentation. “It matters what’s inside. What we’re looking for is who you are and what you love.”
Each year, Simon & Schuster offers three, 10-week internship programs in the summer, fall, and spring. Fall and spring internships are designed to accommodate academic programming, and require 16–20 hours of work per week. The summer session runs 35 hours per week. Interns are paid $13/hour.
“Internships are a great way to explore the publishing world,” said Human Resources Assistant Carolyn Garcia, who helps recruit Simon & Schuster interns. “Our program is treated more like an apprenticeship. You go in as if you are an entry-level assistant. You’re not fetching anyone coffee or running around the streets of Manhattan with anyone’s dry cleaning. You’re doing meaningful work.”
Simon & Schuster’s internship program is unique in that it is used as a “feeder pool” for the organization.
“The reason we put you in the internship program is because we have the full intention of hiring you at the end,” said Bertan. “If you’re in the internship program, know that we are training you for a full-time job.”
When applying for an internship with Simon & Schuster, it’s important to include three points in your cover letter: why books, what books, and why Simon & Schuster. Specificity is key here – if there’s a particular imprint that resonates with you, take the time to explain why you would like to work there. Where do your interests lie in terms of department? What are you curious about? What do you want to learn?
“We’re looking for the right fit. I place you based on who you are as a person,” said Bertan. “Generic cover letters aren’t going to cut it. The person who says, ‘Every year, I read the full Harry Potter series cover to cover,’ that’s who I’m looking for.”
On resumes, Simon & Schuster wants to see work experience. Did you get involved in your college magazine or newspaper? Have you worked in a bookstore or library? (Yes, working at the Starbucks in Barnes & Noble counts.)
“When we look at resumes, all experience matters,” said Bertan. “Never discount food service. It shows great people skills, great juggling skills, and great work ethic. We really do look for that.”
Also make sure you have a “Skills & Interests” section at the bottom of your resume – this is where Bertan starts her search. In this section, list second languages (if you’re fluent), coding and technical skills, social media expertise, and other personal details, like hobbies and sports.
The Skills & Interests section “gives us a little insight as to who you are, which helps when I’m trying to match people to books,” said Bertan. “I’ve seen everything from master cupcake baker to black belt in karate to accordion player to unicycle rider to lion tamer – yes, I’ve really had lion tamer. It also gives me reason to want to call someone to find out more. That’s what you want to do. You want to spur me to call you.”
You’ve submitted your resume and cover letter and you just got the call – Simon & Schuster wants to interview you for an internship position. How should you prepare? Bertan likes to ask open-ended questions in interviews like:
- Why did you choose your university?
- What did you think you were going to do when you started?
- What do you want to do now and why?
- What experiences have you had that you’ve loved?
- What didn’t you like?
Research imprints that interest you, and be prepared to list a few recently-published titles. This kind of preparation helps distinguish you from other candidates. And, perhaps most importantly, it shows that you’re invested in what you want.
“I’ve been doing this for over 25 years,” said Bertan. “Based on what you choose to tell me, I’ll be able to figure out if you have good organizational skills, if you’re detail-oriented, if you have strong communication skills. We hire people here. It’s that kind of business.”
“We’re very friendly,” added Garcia. “We don’t want you to come in feeling intimidated. We want you to let your personality really shine.”
If you would like to apply for an internship with Simon & Schuster, the house is currently hiring for spring, vetting candidates for summer, and setting aside resumes for fall. Bertan encourages candidates to apply at any time, especially if they’re Master’s students.
“The nice thing about the Master’s program at Pace is that you intern during the day and work on your program in the evening. I can’t tell you how many people I’ve hired this way, because it really is the best of both worlds,” said Bertan. “You have the opportunity to learn about the industry through classes and at the same time apply that knowledge on a day-to-day basis to figure out what you want to do.”
For more Simon & Schuster internship information, please click here. Feeling stuck? Browse the tabs at the top of the blog for Magazine/Digital Media Internship resources and Book Internship Resources. You can also click here to download the Course Descriptions for Internship I & II. [Word, 3.4 MB]