The unpaid internship has been a longstanding literary tradition, but trust the unorthodox and creative Coffee House Press to blow tradition out of the water.
The press is now offering stipends for its editorial interns, using money from the Allan Kornblum Memorial Fund and the Bush Foundation Creative Community Cohort Grant.
Publisher Chris Fischbach started at Coffee House as an unpaid intern, as did much of the Coffee House staff. “It’s provided training to so many young people hoping to enter the field,” Fischbach said in a statement. “But only those with secure economic circumstances can afford to volunteer their time. That’s a problem for us, because it means our industry doesn't’t represent the US. Or the reading public.”
Coffee House Press typically hires nine interns over the course of three seasons. The stipend will pay $1,200 for about 200 hours’ of work spread between 12-20 hours per week over three months.
Interns read and report on manuscript submissions, fact-check, do research and proofreading, assist with the packaging of review copies, and many other tasks.
“Access is something that has always been important to Coffee House,” Fischbach said. “Over the past few years we’ve been working hard to put our books and values into action in more tangible ways.
“When we looked at our internship program, which we are very proud of, and which has helped many people enter the publishing industry, we realized that because we weren’t offering any financial assistance it was likely that there are people who can’t afford to be an intern. So, the combination of our changing organizational culture and the generosity of those who gave in honor of Allan, along with the Bush Foundation grant, allowed us to set aside some funds to seed the initiative while we look for longer-term, more sustainable funding.”
Interns can also receive college credit for their work.