Let’s be honest, a career in writing is not easy to obtain.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics says that the job outlook for authors is slower than average, and that there were fewer than one hundred forty thousand writing jobs in America. These statistics make becoming a professional writer seem almost impossible, and with these competitive rates, employers are going to want only the best candidates.
So, in order to get a writing job, you will need a lot of experience. You’ll need to receive and learn from criticism, be able to work under pressure and complete regular assignments to make yourself stand out from the other people who are vying for your same job. Although a job in your field is never guaranteed, a cram summer will increase your chances.
What is a cram summer? It’s the concept of trying to fit all the experience you can into one summer, whether it’s through internships, jobs in your desired field, classes in that discipline or submitting your written work like crazy to as many companies as possible. Hopefully you pick all or most of the above options.
Now, you could argue that a cram summer may be good for anyone in any field, but I know from experience that using your vacation time to learn about your passion is especially useful for writers. In addition to my internship here at “Study Breaks,” I had two other ones for a charity and a candy company, while also doing some freelancing on the side. Over the summer, my list of publications has more than doubled, and now I have a few new things to mention on job applications.
The ideal time for a cram summer is while you’re a student. Typically internships will ask for college-age workers, and it’s a time in life where many people aren’t paying their own rent, which makes unpaid jobs and internships less inconvenient (No offense, “Study Breaks!”). The following four points will help you plan your next cram summer.
1. Consider a Remote Internship
To be clear, remote means that you can work from home and don’t have to visit the internship’s physical location. Of course, working from home has many advantages, like not having to spend gas money or leave your house ever. Remote work also means that you’ll likely be able to pick up another job, internship, class, etc. As I mentioned earlier, I had three internships over this summer, and all of them were remote. Because I didn’t have to visit any place and waste time driving, I was able to complete my assignments and turn them in on time.
Because we live in the digital age, there are more internship opportunities than ever. I found two of mine on Indeed.com and the one for “Study Breaks” on Internships.com. You can find both paid and unpaid positions, but either way is an investment in your future.
2. Start Freelancing Yesterday
To this day, I am still kicking myself for not doing freelance work earlier. With freelance work, you get to pick and choose what assignments you apply to, accept and decline. You get to pick your schedule and workload so that your writing gigs don’t interfere with your other jobs or your summer vacation too much. Freelancing hours are flexible so that you can work during the school year, too.
Freelance work is important for writers, because it challenges your abilities and, of course, gives you paid writing experience, which is yet another section on a resume.
3. Submit Your Work as Much as Possible
If you’re going to send your writing somewhere, do it well, because a great story or essay won’t always excuse a crappy cover letter. Also, remember to edit your piece; I cannot stress this enough. Grammar errors are easy to make, but can be hard to spot as well.
Something else to keep in mind is that even though your piece might be amazing, there’s a good chance that it won’t be ideal for many publishers. So, before you send in your short story, poem or whatever you wrote, take the time to familiarize yourself with the publication. Failure to do so will most likely result in immediate rejection.
As you can see, I can’t stress looking at the business’ website or printed work enough either. My reason is that I once submitted a creative nonfiction essay about how my sister’s iguana tried to mate with us to Drexel University. Of course, the story is still unpublished, but to be fair, the rejection letter from Drexel said my story was funny. Reactions aside, don’t make the same mistakes as me! I kept committing the submission crime of not knowing the company until I was enlightened by one of my writing courses.
4. Take a Class
Since creative writing classes are a part of my major, I didn’t take any extra ones for my cram summer, but I still would have benefited had I taken a workshop or two. The reasons why taking a class will help you improve your writing should be pretty self-explanatory: You’ll learn how to correctly format and tell a story. ‘Nuff said.
If you can, take a summer class that counts for college credit, so that you don’t have to take as many units later. However, taking a college-credited writing course isn’t always an option, so if you can’t find a transferable class, then just take one that is relevant to your interests or one that will help you strengthen your weaknesses. Whatever you choose, make it worthwhile.
The idea of a cram summer may sound overwhelming, and at times it is, but couldn’t you say the same for any other part life? Let me tell you, it’s worth it, and as you saw from the points above, there’s more than one way to have a cram summer. If you want to focus on writing classes and not get any internships, great! You want to focus on freelancing and expanding your publication list, that’s also great! Whatever you do, do it well so that your choices make one hell of a resume by the end of the summer.