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Publishing Intern
About the placement/internship

Why did you decide to do a placement/internship?

I wanted to have some more in-depth and specialist experience into the world of publishing to help me break into the industry when I graduate. I also knew I would really enjoy finally getting stuck in to the nuts and bolts of the whole book process and so thought it would be a productive and fun use of my summer.

How did you find your placement/internship?

Speculative application

Application process

I sent a speculative email to And Other Stories about a possible placement which was easier for me because I had already worked with them and because I knew they had previously accepted placement students through similar schemes at Sheffield Hallam University. After sending over a CV and finalising some details I had a confirmed placement and could begin my written application for the Work Experience Bursary. The WEB team were really helpful throughout all of this, advising me on liaising with my prospective employers and writing my application.

What made you choose this organisation for your placement/internship?

Last year someone from the department of English shared around information about And Other Stories' 'Is Publishing For Me?' Open Day. I attended this event and, after already learning a great deal from their speakers and workshops, asked one of their editors if I might be able to shadow someone for a day. Following this, I then had an email about doing some work on their new website. I thoroughly enjoyed the little time I spent there then and so when I heard about the Work Experience Bursary I knew that I wanted to try my hardest to secure a placement with And Other Stories.

Main responsibilities

One of the best thing about my placement was that I had lots of different responsibilities across different areas of the publishing process, mostly due to this being a small, independent press. I liked how I was often given a much greater level of responsibility than I anticipated. For example, I was asked to send official emails on behalf of the company and given the authority to dismiss manuscripts that really weren't suited to AOS without running these past others. Representing them in this way felt like they really saw me as one of the team and placed a lot of trust in me and my judgement.

Typical day

It's hard to describe a typical day as I worked on so many different things but most of my time was spent in the office and the day usually began by checking emails and I read some submissions on most days. Then there were a great number of tasks I was asked to do that varied from day to day. My tasks included: posting, commenting and searching for AOS books on Instagram; packaging and posting books to be sent to customers, bookshops, reps, reviewers and book prizes; taking photos and making images for social media; proofreading their next catalogue, press releases and the copy (in HTML) to be sent to Amazon and other online platforms; adding to their website; counting and reorganising stock, giving my opinion on cover designs; attending meetings (both in house and external, at which I learned a lot and contributed some ideas); researching if books were out of print and; selecting and writing Bookshop of the Month blog posts and even more that I'm sure I've missed out.

What did I enjoy about my placement/internship?

I could just refer you to the list in my previous answer as I really enjoyed the tasks I was set, both by their own merit and because of the range of work I had to complete. This meant that I had a varied time with little opportunity to be bored by any one thing. The responsibility placed on me and the impact I could see my work making made my placement really rewarding. I also really enjoyed spending time with the people at And Other Stories, they were all so friendly and fun and they took time to help give me extra insights that will help me massively in the future.

Challenging aspects

I think the biggest challenge was having confidence in what I was doing. While it was fantastic that they placed so much trust in me, the pressure of not always having someone wanting to check what I've done before it's put out into the big wide world was quite scary but certainly led to my confidence growing during my time there. The range of tasks I had on the go at any one time was also a great challenge in organisation and self-direction, one that I believe will definitely help me when I return to 3rd year and in my career.

Did you use any skills learned from your course?

I obviously transferred some of the knowledge I've gained from studying language and literature for two years at university to the language related tasks of my placement. I also think that, while it was still a challenge, the self-directed nature of my course so far helped me manage my time and balance the different tasks.

Has your time on placement influenced your future career choice?

I was already very convinced that I wanted to work in publishing but this placement has just made me even more sure and even more eager to get started! I've also been given an insight into some alternative routes for finding employment in this sector which I think will be very useful.

As a result of your placement/internship, what are your next steps in planning what you want to do after graduation?

Since my placement I have already signed up to a few newsletters and followed some more social media pages that advertise jobs in publishing (all recommended by a colleague at And Other Stories) and have been looking at the kinds of opportunities that might be open to me when I graduate. Because of how much I enjoyed my placement I think I am more likely to look for similar work straight away when I graduate than to continue for a masters and I would definitely consider working for And Other Stories if the opportunity arose!

Advice to students

My piece of advice to students

My advice would be to always speak up! If I hadn't approached someone at that Open Day then I would never have even thought this placement would be possible. No matter how scary it seems the worst that can happen is they say no and, as my mum always says, 'If you don't ask, you don't get.' This also applies during your placement, asking if you can do, help, or observe things helps you make the most of it and speaking up about your ideas, even though you're worried they're daft, can make a great impression.

Other comments

I have since been asked if I will go back into the office and help with an influx of mail-outs they have coming up and I'm really excited to keep working with them and so pleased that they want me back! I've also already found unexpected benefits of this placement as my experience working on their website has allowed me to complete urgent updates (and some more aesthetic changes) to the university trampoline club's website in my new role as Captain.

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Form completed: 17 Sep 2019

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