Friday, 11 December 2009
5 Things That Helped Me Get a Job in Publishing
So, I've been working at Pearson Education for about two months now. I feel so lucky to have a job at the moment, especially in a competitive business such as publishing. I remember going to the interview, being extremely nervous. My voice probably trembled; I couldn't answer all the questions. But the interview lasted for nearly two hours, so I thought that had to be a good sign.
I really didn't expect to get the job. But luckily for me, I did. And I've been reflecting back on what I thought went right for me. What advice could I offer to others trying to break into the publishing industry?
Here are five things that I think helped me get my job as an editorial assistant:
1. An independent project
While I was looking for a job, I edited, created and (self)published an anthology with the writers of an online writing forum. (I wrote a post on this here: 'Shot Glass Stories - Reflections on Editing an Anthology'). I took a copy along with me to the interview. Even though I only had a proof copy (with a typo on the front page), and the story that my interviewers read was about a one night stand, they seemed pretty interested in it. I guess that this showed that I was enthusiastic about publishing, and capable of managing my own project. I imagine that it also made me stick in the minds of my interviewers - I wonder if anyone else they interviewed had anything like that?
2. My degree
More and more people these days are going to university and getting a degree. I went to a pretty decent university, and studied English Literature with Creative Writing. Fairly relevant to the publishing industry. I had considered trying to get a Masters degree in Publishing, but I was lucky enough not to have to do this. Some of the other editorial assistants at my work place have Publishing Masters, though; doing an MA in Publishing is still a good option if you are trying to get into the industry.
3. Work experience
I spent a few weeks gaining some experience by working for a small publishing house called Whittet Books. It was really great. I only did about four or five hours a day, and worked from the publisher's office in her house. Shirley was really, really lovely and I loved helping out with the books. If I hadn't done this experience, I would not have got my job at Pearson: it was Shirley's relative who told me of the vacancy. Plus, I learned some valuable inside information about the publishing industry.
4. Who you know
It is not just what you know, but definitely who you know, too. My mother's partner's daughter-in-law (yeah... I think that's right) works in a book distributor's. They recently bought out a small publishing house. They needed an extra pair of hands... thus, work experience at Whittet. You know the rest. So, my point is, exploit your contacts! Ask around. Socialise and integrate with people who are already in the business. They might be able to point you in the right direction.
5. Research and preparation
After submitting my CV, I was called for an interview. But I was also given a couple of research tasks to complete before the interview. I took the whole day off working for Whittet to focus on this. I took a good three hours or so researching these tasks, and then another good three hours or so writing it up and presenting it well. I wasn't confident that I had done this well enough, but my interviewers seemed to like that I had printed off copies of my work for them - I think they only expected me to talk about it. I also researched Pearson, since I didn't honestly know a great deal about them. I felt well prepared for my interview.
There are a few other things I think helped. But these are perhaps the main ones. And, as always, a little luck wouldn't go amiss!
Posted by Sophie Playle at 11:37