2015 not only saw the 24th year of the Göttinger Literaturherbst, one of Germany's oldest literary festivals, but also the first round of the newly established cooperation between said literary festival and the British Literature and Culture section of the English Department. To understand what this partnership means for students of English in terms of chances and challenges, I would first like to point out what the Literaturherbst is and does.
The Göttinger Literaturherbst started in October 1992, when Christoph Reisner first invited important figures of the international literary scene to Goettingen. 24 years later, and under the lead of Johannes-Peter Herberhold, the festival has grown into one if the most import German literary events with over 11.000 visitors in 2015 and headlining authors like Jonathan Franzen, Doris Dörrie and Harald Lesch.
An internship with the Göttinger Literaturherbst - what does that mean?
If you would like to get involved with the Göttinger Literaturherbst, I would strongly advise you to go ahead and do it! My internship with them has been an amazing and fulfilling mixture of tasks, sometimes stressful but absolutely always fun. Mainly, I was, and you will be, responsible for the PR and HR side of things, meaning that I was dealing with partners, bookshops, etc. to supply them with PR material and to make sure that the Literaturherbst got the attention it deserved. This included office work, sometimes in the festival office at Hospitalstraße 12, sometimes from home, depending on what projects I was working on. The main task at the beginning of my internship was to supply everyone involved with the festival in Göttingen as well as around Göttingen with all the posters, flyers and materials they needed. Consequently, when I did not do office work, I was driving around town or the urban fringes. Don't despair: You do not need a car to do this internship as you will be provided with one should you need one. Other activities included setting up the Pro City "Schaufensteraktion" which meant supplying shops in town with books, posters and material to decorate their shop windows, as well as (wo)manning the office during open hours, sometimes in teams of two to three, sometimes alone, and to sell tickets and provide customer care there.
All of this was very exciting work: No day was ever like you planned it to be, and this internship has taught me a great deal of flexibility as well as self-confidence. It required good planning skills and stress resistance - in return, you will become an even better team worker, and you will get an insight in all other aspects of the literary industry as well. For example, I was involved in all team meetings which were about how to provide the best service to authors and their publishing houses; if you ever wondered what a contract for authors looks like when they go on tour, you shall find out!
During the actual festival time, so between October 9th and the 18thof October, I acted as box office for at least one event every day, and also supervised a team of other festival interns at several occasions. On top of that, if this isn't enough yet to get you interested, you will get free entry to all events during the festival, meaning that you will be able to see nearly 50 literary events in a range of amazing locations.
All in all, if you are a good team worker, and if you are interested in getting to know the behind-the-scenes of a major literary festival, this is the right placement for you. The team around Johannes-Peter, Viola and Yati will make you feel more than welcome and this is truly an opportunity for you to really learn something, rather than improving your coffee-making skills.