How I got my job in publishing

If you really want to work in publishing you have to be persistent, show that you have drive and commitment to get into this industry. It’s not the easiest industry to get in to and that’s why you have to have the below qualities to get there.

My journey is quite a simple and straight-forward one. During my first year at university, I gained a week’s work placement with Tindal Street Press. This was my first glimpse of the industry and what actually goes on. A week isn’t a very long time but I managed to get involved in a number of duties including researching new ways to market and publicise products. Editorial tasks included reading through the ‘slush pile’ and making notes on what I thought about those manuscripts.  In addition to this, I also proof-read a number of manuscripts.

During the second year I managed to get another week’s work experience with Palgrave Macmillan. My first placement was relatively traditional, but with Palgrave I worked with their online product ‘Skills4StudyCampus’. As the University of Birmingham subscribe to Skills4StudyCampus,  I was therefore a user of their product I did some evaluation and was able to give them useful feedback. During this placement I also had to get feedback from other universities who had subscribed to the product and contacted graduate recruiters for quotes on the product. My mentor in this placement was incredibly helpful as he set up a number of meetings for me to speak with other people in the company to talk to them about what they do and how they got into the industry. I really got on well with the people I worked with on this placement and stayed in touch with them which lead to more ways of gaining experience of the industry such as becoming a book proposal reviewer for them.

My third placement commenced a week after handing everything in for my final year of uni. This placement was with a small magazine based in Birmingham.  I was here for two weeks and it was here I really honed in on my editorial skills. I wrote a few features for the magazine and the website, and I proofed and edited the magazine before it went to print.

So after my third placement I was to make an informed decision that at this stage in my career magazine and trade publishing weren’t for me, it was most definitely academic publishing.

There are a number of things I suggest to make sure you are ready to apply for jobs, traineeships and internships in the industry.  Make use of Careers Network, they hold a Creative Careers fortnight every year where you learn about the different roles in the publishing industry and how people go to where they are now. Careers  Network are great at giving practical help with mock interviews and CV checking. Keep your academics and personal tutors up to date with what your plans are for the future, you will most probably be asking for a reference from them so it’s good to have someone who actually knows what you’ve put in to getting into the industry.  Big publishers such as Penguin hold open days for undergrads and graduates to gain insights into how to make a successful application to the big names. Keep an online presence, through Twitter, blogging and having a LinkedIn account, it’s the way the industry is heading so it’s wise to keep an eye on what’s going on. Keep your CV updated and relevant to who/what you’re applying for. Finally,  get as much work experience as possible, it is really hard and out of what seemed like a million applications I got three work placements during my three years at uni, but it really is the key to getting into the industry.

Keep positive, proactive and persistent and you will get the job you want.

So, after being applying for jobs and being interview several times, (if you are successful in the first interview you will be called in for a second where there are tasks) I have now got the job I wanted as an Editorial Assistant for Routledge. I cannot wait to start my career and to keep learning about this incredible industry.

Iram Satti

English Language and Literature in Education Graduate


About careersbham

Student Engagement Officer for Careers Network University of Birmingham

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