Almost everyone I know in publishing started out doing work experience, myself included. For some people it lasted for a couple of weeks, for others it stretched to months, and the merits/ethics of it have been debated for years. It’s an unfortunate reality that to land your dream job in publishing you sometimes have to work for free in one of the most expensive cities on the planet, but it can’t be denied that it’s an invaluable foot-in-the-door.
With the help of one of my colleagues at HC (as in, one of the lovely ladies who shares my open-plan pod), I have compiled what I hope is a helpful list of tips for people embarking on work experience for a publishing house.
This list presumes that you have a work experience placement already. In terms of getting a work placement, all I can say is keep an open mind and cast a wide net! I never expected to end up working on commercial non-fiction when my dream role was in SF/F, but I gained such valuable experience it’s worth doing whatever you can get your hands on! In the beginning, don’t worry about being pigeon-holed.
And now, on to the tips…
1. Be Friendly
It might sound obvious, but being friendly and polite is so important. You don’t need to be a social butterfly but if you make the effort to get involved – offer to help out on other teams, go for lunch or drinks when you’re invited and make an effort to get to know people in other departments – it’s much easier to be memorable. Publishing involves working closely with lots of different people, and so you should show you can work well in a team. Don’t worry about being bothersome – especially the junior staff, we know how you feel – we were probably in your shoes recently!