Written by Meredith Ford on 19th July 2018.
I was absolutely thrilled to be offered a two-week work placement at Simon & Schuster just after graduating – but at the same time, I felt a sinking feeling as I wondered how I’d find accommodation in London for two weeks. Coming from Sheffield, breaking into the London-centric world of publishing has been hard, and I knew I wouldn’t be able to afford to stay in a hotel or Airbnb. That’s when I did some judicious Googling and was lucky enough to stumble across the Spare Room Project page. I fired off an email and was delighted a few days later to be invited to stay with Victoria and Sam and their family.
I felt quite nervous as I lugged my suitcase down the road to their house, but I needn’t have worried – they and their lovely children immediately set about making me feel like one of the family. Not only did they let me join them at dinner every night, we also had a great time watching Netflix together and even attending a protest!
Victoria and Sam gave me advice on everything from my career, to reading recommendations, to where to find the best falafel place in the vicinity (obviously a necessity). When I was asked in to interview for a publishing job in Sam’s field during the two weeks I was there, he sat down with me and talked me through it and gave me some really valuable advice on interview technique. I truly feel that I learnt a lot from my time with Victoria and Sam and their family, and I’m so grateful to them for allowing me to take advantage of the opportunity at Simon & Schuster, which I hope will help me on my path to finding a permanent role in publishing. It’s vital that the publishing industry attracts the brightest and the best, and that means facilitating access to opportunities for people from all over the country, not just those based in London. I would wholeheartedly recommend this scheme to anyone from outside London undertaking work experience in publishing, and I hope that more publishing professionals will be generous enough to open up their homes to those in need of extra help, in the name of bringing diversity and fresh new voices to an industry which must constantly evolve in order to keep up with our changing world.
Find out more about the Spare Room Project.