“What area code is 415?”, or, How I Landed an Internship with Berrett-Koehler: Part 1


It was a late Friday evening (two weeks ago, to be precise), and I was trying to get out the door to go shopping with my bestie Alex. An unused $90 gift card to Lush from Christmas was burning a hole in my pocket, and I wanted to get out of the Treehouse. But little things kept coming up, roomie emergencies, distracting conversations, etc. Then when I finally was grabbing a quick snack in the kitchen, my phone rang. An unidentified number. I usually let calls like that go to voicemail, but something told me I should ask, “What area code is 415?”

Jess immediately said, “San Francisco.” So I grabbed my phone, dashed up our crazy uneven staircase, almost tripping on the cats, hoping that by the time I reached the top the phone wouldn’t have stopped ringing. When I answered, it was Jeevan from Berrett-Koehler. He explained that because I’d sent my inquiry to the general email, it’d gotten lost and it’d just been forwarded to him.

Tip: If you are sending an editorial internship inquiry/application, send it directly to Jeevan Sivasubramaniam, Executive Managing Editor, at jsiva@bkpub.com. (I spent two days trying to find the right person to send my letter to, and finally gave up)

After a bit of conversation with him and some questions, I realized he’d called me just based off the notes someone had sent him, so there were some awkward pauses. He asked what I was looking for, confirmed that I was available immediately, and other basic questions, then arranged to send me some more information on the internship and we’d reconnect on Monday to set up an interview.

I was ecstatic! Earlier that week, I’d received an email from Cleiss Press, the only other publisher I applied to, and they hadn’t mentioned anything about an interview, only that they were taking my application into consideration. I raced back down the stair, shared the news and celebratory high fives, and went back to trying to get out the door.

About ten minutes later, my phone started ringing again, same number. Back up the stairs. Jeevan had called back to say that he’d read my cover letter, and was “very comfortable setting up an interview for Monday.” He liked that I’d read around the website and really researched what the company was about and made that apparent in my cover letter. One thing that turned me onto Berrett-Koehler as an interesting and potential company was the intern blogs (just like this one). From them, I was able to get an inside look at what BK valued in its staff and how they worked together and the ways they supported the BK interns. I made sure to mention some of this in my cover letter.

Tip: Write your cover letter specifically for the publishing company you are applying to. I don’t mean you have to write it completely from scratch. But spend a significant amount of time researching the place, find out what they  care about, who their employees are. Read up on a variety of titles that they publish to get a good idea of how what they publish exemplifies their motto. See what the news has to say about them. Find something you really love about them that makes them different from other publishers, and make sure to mention it. Believe me, it makes all the difference…I’ve already seen Jeevan reject six internship applications because the people didn’t do their research. The time you put into it counts. And I’ve only been here two weeks.

Back to the second phone call. There I was, setting up an interview for Monday morning, after I’d been despairing all week that I’d only applied to two internships. I was freaking out and elated at the same time, but I had to keep my cool. So hard! We set it for 9 am and then said goodbye. Down the stairs I ran again again, this time truly bubbling over with excitement. The truth is, before last month, I’d never written a cover letter in my life. I find it so hard to talk about myself or my abilities because it has been ingrained in me that that sort of talk is bragging and boasting and you must let your actions speak for themselves. However, in this sort of situation, the only way I could show possible employers my worth is by writing about it in a truthful but confident way…a very difficult hurdle for a perfectionist like me, especially since I’ve never had to do it before.

And now I’ll have to sign off and go back to my other responsibilities, also known as homework and housework (Ugh!). If there’s anything in particular you are interested in knowing, my dear readers, please do leave a comment and I’ll be sure to post about it. My goal is to post at least once a week, but hopefully more than that.

Until next time, Ciao!


3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. christianaxoxo
    Apr 06, 2012 @ 23:55:59

    This is so exciting, Ash! I love knowing what’s going on in my good friend’s life and this internship seems to fit you so well. ❤


    • Byrdie Grey
      Apr 23, 2012 @ 02:53:52

      Thank you, Christi! It’s nice to know an old friend is still interested in reading what I write. Have you seen my latest post? An homage to my new Instagram obsession. Check it out!


  2. christianaxoxo
    Apr 06, 2012 @ 23:56:29

    So exciting! Looking forward to reading more about your life and internship!


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