As an absolute newbie to the publishing world with only two months under my belt, I feel that my route into publishing is very contemporary and could hopefully prove helpful to others in the same position as I was in, just five months ago!
As I entered the terrifying abyss that was finding my first graduate job, I was armed with two things: a degree in Classics (rather than the quintessential English Literature degree) and some publishing work experience which I had managed to squeeze in alongside my studies (rather than an unpaid graduate internship which seems to be all too common nowadays).
After extensive internet searches, I felt burdened by the thought of having to do a Publishing Masters to even begin to compete for my first graduate job; the burden being another £9,000 of student debt which I absolutely could not afford or justify to myself. However, after noticing that Penguin Random House had recently removed the need for employees to have even a degree, I felt much more optimistic. I have actually met someone in a very similar role to me who does not have a degree at all – so it is absolutely possible!
I applied for every entry-level publishing job that genuinely interested me; I wasn’t fussed about applying for solely editorial roles. The greatest piece of advice I have ever received from a career talk on publishing was not to worry about which sector my first job was in. The speaker insisted that if you love books, any part of publishing will be exciting to you. I ended up having two interviews: one for editorial and one for publicity. My first interview was a nervous shambles, but my second interview got me a job as a Publicity Assistant at Princeton University Press. The advice from that one career talk is true: as someone who loves books and could talk about them for days, I have loved my experience of publicity so far.
Although I had carried out publishing work experience, the bulk of my experience prior to getting a job in publishing was helping to edit my university’s student newspaper. I think the editorial and publicity skills I gained, as well as showing the willingness to really get involved with something, have been an invaluable stepping stone for me. It was so important knowing that although it wasn’t direct ‘book publishing’ experience, that knowledge and experience was still absolutely transferable.
With regards to finding my first job in publishing, I found Twitter crucial for scouting out the kinds of jobs and internships that were available – the Twitter accounts @pubinterns and @pubjobsuk are especially helpful for this. It seems that the publishing industry’s platform at the moment really is Twitter! However, I found the job I currently have on the SYP (Society of Young Publishers) website. SYP was such a worthwhile society to join whilst I was still searching around for jobs because of their excellent jobs list and quarterly magazine – it’s not just for people who already have their foot in the door, it’s useful for anyone looking for their first step in.
After only two months in the publishing industry, I can see that it is a friendly, dynamic and creative industry to be a part of and I look forward to learning more about it.
© Amy Stewart 2016