Tag Archive | jobs in books

Journey to Employment

I am beyond delighted, excited, thrilled, overjoyed, and any other euphoric superlatives you can think of that this week is my first week of work in publishing!

And as you’ll know if you read this blog or follow my Twitter, that this has not been an easy journey – in fact at times it has been terrible. Of course, it is not easy for anyone going into publishing, one of the most notoriously difficult industries to get into. And yet, I daresay you will not find a more determined bunch of people trying to get in.

I want to document my journey here, with no frills, and pure emotions, to demonstrate the realities of getting a job in publishing and to show you that with tenacity and determination, it is possible.

(no names of companies I applied to will be mentioned nor names of their employees)


The preliminaries 

My first insight into publishing came in 2014, when I was lucky enough to do two weeks work experience in the Marketing department at Hodder & Stoughton. I fell head over heels immediately for the industry and knew this was where my future lay.

I followed this up with two weeks at Penguin General the following year, before finishing my degree in English Literature and Hispanic Studies.

Throughout my final year, I nurtured my blog, volunteered twice for the Bookseller, and kept my toes in the publishing water by being active in the community on Twitter.


The journey 

I began my applications on the 26th of April 2016 (which I remember because it was the day I handed in my final dissertations). My job was offered to me on the 16th of September 2016, which makes a total of 143 days of applications, interviews and rejections.

The process began quickly; I sent in the first application on the 3rd of May and was invited the very next day for an interview on the 10th of May. It was a job I was terribly excited about and, understandably, I was devastated when I got that first rejection, because it had appeared to be going so well.

What followed was a phone interview with another company, who then rejected me based on my not being able to start straight away (I had to finish my degree, of course) and then a very long dry spell.

I made the huge mistake of rejecting an interview for a 6-month internship at a Big Company, because in my words I was ‘looking for something more permanent’. What could have been more permanent than a brilliant paid internship at a leading publisher? I was naive and still thinking I could walk into a job following my graduation.

I began documenting my applications at the end of June/beginning of July on an Excel spreadsheet – which really helped because it made my applications really clear to me, especially the dates of application and when the position closed.

As we know, lots of companies don’t respond to your applications after 2 weeks if you’ve not been successful, so having a spreadsheet helped me to keep track of these closing dates to know if it had been 2 weeks and I should just give up waiting for the email.

screen-shot-2016-09-18-at-15-27-54

As you can see, it was a very long process, with lots of red (and brown, which was when I made those assumptions that I had not been accepted).

At one point I had two interviews in one day for internships, and when I was rejected from both of these, I began to panic and wildly sent in applications for anywhere and everywhere (including fashion brands I was not particularly enthusiastic about), and speculative applications where I could.

I began to realise my applications would only be good if I was really passionate about the position, and to stop wasting time sending such half-hearted applications. I also realised that if I believed in myself, other people would too, so I followed advice I had been given at London Book Fair, to apply for positions that on paper I might not be qualified for (such as those asking for 1 year’s experience). It could not hurt to send in an application and see where it led me… and it led me to my job.

Eventually, I was lucky enough to get a chance and someone decided I was good enough.


So is the point of all this?

  • Don’t give up on your dreams
  • It will happen
  • If you believe in yourself, someone else will
  • Treat every application like it’s the one you will be hired for
  • Be proud of your achievements
  • Life is what you make it
  • (Other clichés)

As the great Miley Cyrus once said, it’s a climb, but the view is great.

Happy to read CVs and Cover Letters, and always to talk about our experiences.

Working in Publishing (Or, Not Being Able To)

Be warned, what follows is a slightly ranty, extremely exasperated, discussion about working in publishing, or rather, trying to get a job in publishing.

Though I don’t actually work in publishing, I consider myself part of the community. I’ve done work experience, volunteering, attended conferences, been to London Book Fair, and regularly natter on Twitter about the industry. I see so many things about the obstacles facing us ‘bright young things’ trying to get into the industry, and trust me, there are plenty.

Yesterday I was rejected for a job because my ‘background’ didn’t match as ‘closely with [their] specific qualifications’. I have a First in a degree in English Literature and Spanish; I’ve done two lots of work experience at Penguin and Hachette; I’ve written and volunteered for the Bookseller (twice); and now I’m starting to wonder what else I can really do, aside from carving ‘I want this job’ into my arm in my own blood.

Previously I was rejected from a job because they chose a candidate with three years prior experience in the industry. How am I supposed to get three years experience if no-one gives me a shot??

I see so many candidates like me who have graduated and have plenty of great experience and then spend a year interning. That’s all well and good, if you can afford to. I’ve said it before on this blog that I come from what I call a comfortable background, but not comfortable enough to support living in London and bouncing from internship to internship.

Am I so wrong to want something a little more permanent? Or am I being ridiculous thinking I can get that straight out of uni?

How much more do graduates or entry-level candidates need to do to prove ourselves?

And is it acceptable that publishing companies can be so dismissive and expect so much from us when we are just trying to do the best we can?

I think the Spare Room Project is a fantastic initiative, but if we’re being honest that’s more suited to work experience candidates than three month internships.

Us ‘young ones’ have so much to offer and are more than often so passionate about getting into the industry. We just want a chance to show our worth, without having to cut off an arm and a leg to do so.

Also, I feel like it’s not enough these days to just have a good degree, and internships, and that ole desire and ambition. Employers are always looking for more. So on our CVs as well as our 3/4 years at uni and work/experience/work experience, we need to have our volunteering, our blog, our Instagram, our YouTube channel, our this, our that, our anything and everything to make us stand out. But if we all have a blog or an Instagram or a YouTube channel, what will we do next to make ourselves stand out? And is this starting to sound a bit ridiculous? Is it not enough that we are so incredibly passionate about publishing that we would do all these things just for the chance at a job?

I may not know everything about publishing there is to know, but I want to. I want to learn, I want more experience, I want to get involved. This is why I believe there should be more training programmes or graduate schemes offered for entry level candidates. It’s not enough to have entry level positions and then turn us down when we don’t have enough experience. Give us an opportunity for experience.

There aren’t that many universities that offer a BA in Publishing (certainly not the Redbricks), so most of us probably have an English degree, where we’ve been learning about literature not how to publish it, and then go on to do a Masters in Publishing. But I’ve been a student for 4 years, I’m ready to go out into the world of work and learn on the job… but is that enough? Do I need a Masters? Or will a Masters just put off doing a year’s worth of internships for another year?

Publishing is a tough industry. I’ve known that since I started thinking about a career in publishing. But when we’re doing everything we can to get involved, the industry should be able to show us some love back. I’m sorry if this comes off as sounding entitled, which certainly isn’t my intention. I’m just exhausted by the process of applications and rejections. My future feels very fuzzy at the moment and I’m looking for some clarity.

Does anyone out there have a success story? Share in the comments below!

The Scheme 16!

Hello readers!! As I am now entering the final months of my undergraduate (last week I finished all my formal classes – scary!) my own personal reading is sadly on the back-burner as I devote my attention to dissertations, essays and Spanish Grammar. Currently should be writing an essay on Spanish Civil War poetry but I’m taking a little break to discuss The Scheme 16!

For anyone who doesn’t know what that is, The Scheme is Penguin Random House’s non-graduate scheme, which welcomes any and all individuals to apply, with or without a degree, to become one of their editors of tomorrow, as long as you have the talent.

I first read about the Scheme last year during my year abroad, when it was in its infancy and was a Scheme for Marketers. I knew from last March that I would by applying this year and have been waiting in anticipation to submit my application, which I finally did on Tuesday. *HAPPY DANCE*

The application doesn’t ask for a CV, any qualifications, experience or formal training, which is both exciting and really scary, as we only had four questions to really show ourselves off and demonstrate that we have the skills and qualities that Penguin are looking for.

I’m not going to go into detail about those qualities, but you can find them here if you choose to apply. Can’t quite decide if I should be advocating applications or not… Obviously if this sounds up your street then of course apply, but now I’ve definitely made more competition for myself!

I’m hopeful that my answers made me stand out and that I get through to the next round, which we find out on May 3rd, after which we have 2 weeks to complete a video interview. I really do hope I get though, because it’s so hard to convey my natural enthusiasm through answers of 300 or so words. So keep your fingers crossed for me readers!

Something I do want to talk about it is something that Liv, one of the current Schemers, discussed in a video yesterday about The Scheme. Liv was talking about doing an English Lit degree, which obviously I can relate to, and how in the final stages of your undergrad the endless reading and being forced to read instead of being able to read for pleasure can make you really despondent about reading and really put you off reading.

I know that these days, when I’ve done a full day of studying and reading about Chaucer or the Spanish Civil War, all I want to do is crawl into bed and binge-watch something on Netflix or even watch infinite YouTube videos that have no purpose at all. I can see The Martian, which you’ll know I’ve been reading since February, according to My Long Long List of Books, looking at me saying ‘Read me! Read me!’ but I just can’t seem to enjoy reading at the moment because I spend my life looking at words.

I was so incredibly pleased to hear that working with books re-invigorated Liv’s love of reading and it made me more determined than ever to get a job in books, purely so I can get my love of reading back. I think I deserve that much – don’t you?

And now, I should probably get back to Spanish Civil War poetry, as this essay will not write itself. Do you ever feel despondent about reading even though you know it’s your one true love? Let me know in the comments below!

Incidentally I spelt The Scheme wrong every single time I wrote it here. Better work on that… 

The Skills Show Birmingham – My Meet with My Future Career

I was sat in a lecture as part of a series dedicated to my extended essay. Some of these lectures have been useful, and others, like this particular insightful one on a ‘poster competition’, have not. So, I did what any student is likely to do – I checked my Twitter.

Whilst scrolling I saw a tweet from JobsInBooks (the lovely Maria Vassilopoulos) saying she was attending The Skills Show at Birmingham’s NEC along with The Publishing Association to talk about #workinpublishing. And I thought to myself, hang on a minute… I want to work in publishing. 

As I was, in fact, in Birmingham at the time, mere miles from the NEC, I thought it was about time I took my career into my own hands and got myself down there. I registered to The Skills Show as I walked and after an hour long journey (and watching two trains for Birmingham International pull away from the platform as I arrived), I finally made it to the NEC.

The man behind the registration desk was incredibly helpful when he informed me that I had a film of sweat on my forehead and laughed; but I didn’t have time for him. This was it, I was actually going to be engaging in networking outside of a work placement.

I turned up at the Publishing stand and got talking to Emily Cook from IPG who opened my eyes to all the possibilities IPG could offer me, all the volunteering I could get involved with and even more creative ways to show my interest and enthusiasm for books, including an Instagram dedicated to books, instead of my weekly ‘Throwback Thursdays’ of the cutest pictures I can find of my brother and I.

Then I introduced myself to Maria (whose Twitter is OnceUponTheBook) and I was thrilled that she remembered me from our Twitter/email exchange a few weeks ago. I have to imagine this is somewhat what meeting a celebrity feels like – she’s certainly Twitter famous to me. It was so amazing to sit down and have an in-depth chat (which I think was in part due to my late arrival, meaning the stall wasn’t as busy as it could’ve been), and to hear exactly how Maria got to be ‘@JobsInBooks’. She definitely helped calm my fears about not getting exactly where I want to be straight away and that not all routes into publishing are traditional.

I also enjoyed speaking with Stephanie Cox who is the Events Organiser/Communications Officer for SYP North. What was great about meeting Stephanie was that she showed me that not all publishing events happen in London and in the event that I do have to move home after uni, there will still be opportunities to get involved up north.

I came away from the event feeling extremely satisfied and glad that I had raced over from the University of Birmingham campus to the NEC to be there. I have a handful of business cards (people who can expect emails soon!), a bunch of leaflets with useful information, and a more in-depth knowledge of where I could be and what I can do to get there.

Now all that’s left is considering that all important ‘keep in touch’. It’s all very well and good to say so, and to send a follow-up email, but what I find the most difficult is maintaining that relationship beyond the first ‘It was great to meet you/work with you’ email. Is it satisfactory to say ‘I read this book and thought of you’ or ‘I’m doing X,Y,Z at the moment and wondered what you were up to?’

It’s certainly something to think about and something that I need to perfect. I do believe that Twitter and LinkedIn are our best tools for keeping an active presence with people because they give us the change to ‘Like’ or ‘Retweet’ or even reply to things that our associates are doing in a more informal manner than an email. It’s like a little reminder, with a Like or a reply, you’re basically saying ‘Hello, remember me??’

I definitely want to improve my ‘keeping in touch’ skills, because as we all know networking is absolutely key to a career in this industry. I’m so pleased that I had my first real interaction with networking and I hope I can keep this up in the future! Looking forward to hopefully doing some great volunteering and getting as involved as possible with all the opportunities publishing can offer me, with or without a job offer!