How to get experience within the publishing industry
The publishing industry is a tough one to crack (though what industry isn't when you're a millenial ... I mean?!?!). When I first told everyone about wanting to get into publishing, so many people told me to give up the dream, because it wasn't going to happen. But guess what, I worked my butt off for years and I finally got my dream job.
Getting experience is so hard, so I thought I'd chat about all the things that both myself and friends working their way into the industry have done to give us a little boost to finally secure that full time graduate work.
One thing that I really wish I'd done earlier is work out exactly what I wanted to do. I knew I wanted to go into publishing for ages, but I didn't realise what a wide variety of jobs there are in the industry: from editing, to marketing, to illustrating, there's so much to choose from. I've always been more intrigued by the editorial side of things, and that's what I've pursued. But, what I also didn't realise is that it really matters what you get your experience in. If all of your experience is with adult non-fiction publishing, for example, it's very hard to transfer into kids' fiction. This is where things get really tough. I always thought as long as I got editorial experience, that I'd be sorted, but it's not the case. All of my experience is in academic publishing, so that's where I've ended up, and I'm loving it now I'm here, but for a while I was so distraught that I didn't end up in any kind of fiction publishing.
So, let's actually get onto what you're all here for. Experience. It's there, and it's possible, but it can be hard, especially when nepotism doesn't work in your favour (I mean, c'mon, why couldn't I have had a cousin in Penguin??). First up, join the SYP. They advertise a whole load of jobs going in the industry and hold regular conferences to talk about getting into publishing and changes that are going on at the moment. You have to buy a membership, but it's worth it in my opinion to see all the jobs in one place, and be able to gain some important contacts.
Next up, start hunting. I started searching at my uni itself. Get involved with a school newspaper: there's marketing, different editorial sectors to get into, sub editing, and photography too. It's a good way to show that you really want to get into publishing, it's not *too* time consuming, and you can try out a few different things to see what you really enjoy. I wrote for mine too to start building up a writing portfolio, which can help show that you're capable if you want to get into the editorial side of things.
Look at university societies, get on board with their marketing/editorial needs and get some experience that way. There are also usually a few job fairs a year. Go to these, chat to any publishers present in person, and get an idea of what they want from applicants.
Next up: search local. Look at local publishers/newspapers in your home and/or university town. Enquire about any internship or shadowing positions. They're likely to be unpaid, but if you do this early on, whilst you're still at uni, it's a good chance to spend a few weeks getting involved in the industry. I hate the idea of unpaid internships or summer positions as much as anybody, but sometimes it's what you've got to do to get your foot in the door.
Then: go global. Hear me out on this. Get freelancing. Search on twitter for jobs you can do at home, or in your local area. I found the job that the majority of my experience came from on Twitter, and I honestly would not be where I am without it. There are so many fab accounts that post/retweet jobs and publishing events going on. A few of my faves have to be: @jobsinbooks, @pubjobsuk and @publishingjobs. There are so many accounts out there, and some of the bigger publishing houses like Penguin and Hachette have whole accounts dedicated to their careers sector. There are a whole other ways to find freelance publishing jobs, but Twitter is definitely a good start.
Finally, talk to careers advisors at your uni, or head to a recruitment branch. Talk about what you want to do and find out what you need, or what you can do to get there. With a good amount of experience behind you, it can and will happen, but it takes a while. I feel like I totally lucked out on some of my experience, but I really did work hard at securing it, and I hope chatting about some of the ways I did is helpful.