Interning with Edinburgh International Book Festival 2021

In this guest blog, Josephine Jay reflects on her experiences as an intern at Edinburgh International Book Festival. Jo has worked across three departments over the last six months: Development, Marketing and Programming, and has been a key part of each team over the course of the year. Here she reflects on some of her experiences.


These past six months I have been lucky enough to intern with the Edinburgh International Book Festival. This has been a lovely experience made all the better by the kindness and patience of my fellow staff members. My educational background is in Chinese Studies, quite removed from the literary sector, however, it has been an incredibly relaxing transition into the world and workings of the Book Festival.

I started off my internship shadowing the Development team, learning the ropes as to what goes on behind the scenes in sponsorship and support. Here, I was able to help compile and edit some of the newsletters we send out – both internally and externally. My next stint was in Marketing where I helped the team collate pictures for the Festival programme, and divide event copy thematically. My final months were spent with Programming where, over the course of the Festival, I helped with on-the-ground author hospitality and am now, in my final weeks, assisting with Citizen work. We are currently focusing on wrapping up the Festival, seeing the start of a new term with The Citizen Collective writing group, welcoming our new Schools’ Writer in Residence, Ryan Van Winkle, and preparing for our upcoming Citizen Winter Warmer event.

After months of planning and the growing concerns and uncertainty as to what restrictions would allow in terms of in-person events, the Festival itself was great to witness and experience. An incredible amount of hard work and planning goes on to pull together the Festival, that in previous years as a casual bystander, I did not fully appreciate. The new venue at Edinburgh College of Art is an old haunt of mine from my own student days, and the transformation of the halls and courtyard into the Edinburgh International Book Festival was incredibly moving to see.

A highlight of my time with the Festival alongside drafting copy was contributing to some of the Learning Resources we provide to teachers, parents and guardians looking to embellish their child’s learning. During the Festival in August, I greatly enjoyed meeting many of the authors in person, and feeling the buzz and relief of audiences returning after two years’ absence from live events.

This year’s Festival was a good chance to gauge responses to the new site and examine areas of strength and weaknesses to improve for next year. On a personal level, this internship has been a fantastic learning curve for me, in terms of building confidence and new skills. I have very much enjoyed meeting new people on both personal and professional levels, and look forward to seeing how the internship grows and progresses in the years to come.



My dog Bill even joined the Festival for a few days in the Authors’ Yurt!

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