The intern next door

By Laura Frater

Internships: they’re renowned for bad pay, no pay, unreasonable hours and ridiculous employer requests.

Unfortunately though, they’re vital for CVs and are particularly important for Arts and Humanities students. In my first year at King’s as an English Literature student, I trawled through literary agents, publishing houses and many other organisations that might be offering work experience. Then one beautiful snowy day in December 2010, my faith in the world of interning was restored, as I stumbled upon an email in my King’s account from the Royal Society of Literature. And the rest is history, one might say!

WHAT IS THE RSL?

The RSL are a literary organisation based in Somerset House opposite King’s Strand Campus. Founded in 1820 by George IV in 1820, the society “celebrates and nurtures” the best of British Literature. It’s a fantastic organisation. Along with the 24 events that they organise in the year, the society also awards prizes and grants to aspiring and established writers. They also host Masterclasses with the Booker Prize Foundation, along with campaigning for issues relating to writers. The RSL are run by a small but ridiculously hardworking team, who are all intensely passionate about promoting the importance of literature in the 21st century.

WHAT DOES AN RSL INTERN DO?

The RSL has a joint initiative with King’s and therefore leaves one internship open to a King’s undergraduate. As an intern there, you’ll get to experience a massive array of tasks. From publicising events through organisations such as the National Theatre, the Southbank Centre and other UL universities to meeting authors like Michael Morporgo, it really is a once-in-a-lifetime internship. You’ll be coordinating events, be running around London delivering books to authors in Bloomsbury, mailing JK Rowling and asking Sebastian Faulks his preferred wine! It’s a unique and wonderful workplace.

SOUNDS AMAZING! WHAT ELSE SHOULD I KNOW?

Although RSL internships are unpaid, the experience and confidence you will gain from working there is invaluable. Hours range from two to three days a week but this is normally negotiable, as the staff is very understanding of your academic workload. Interns are usually required to commit to the RSL for a period of three months. You need to have a real love for literature and “a desire to pursue a career in an arts organisation”. Interns must also be confident with computer based admin and be happy making telephone calls.

It is very rare in this day and age to find such a hard-working, selfless and caring organisation such as the Royal Society of Literature. As a former RSL intern, I can honestly say it was a privilege to work there. The work was extremely interesting, the staff were kind and considerate and most importantly, the RSL’s objective was genuinely inspiring. In a world so caught up in the language of science and technology, they remind us why art – in all its forms – is so important.

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