As a third year student, the end of university is drawing increasingly closer and the prospect of having to find a job is becoming more and more of a reality. However, last year I managed to get some work experience at Penguin Books for a couple of weeks during the summer holidays, and it was one of the best things I’ve ever done.
I would definitely recommend starting to think about what you want to do as early as possible, and use your first and second years at university as a time to get some work experience – even if it’s just to try out a particular role to see if you like it or not. By doing this it means you’ll waste less time later on because you’ll have a more solid idea of what you want to do.
I started applying to various publishing companies over the Christmas holidays in my second year and although I didn’t get any offers straight away, I did get put on some of the companies’ systems to be notified of possible opportunities in the future, which is another benefit of making the effort early on as you never know when they might need an extra pair of hands. Finally, I got round to applying to one of the big publishers I hadn’t applied to yet – Penguin Books. To my surprise the day after I submitted my application I received an email offering me two weeks’ work experience with the Penguin Press imprint, who publish Penguin Classics, non-fiction and a niche range of fiction. Needless to say, I jumped at the opportunity.
I was really nervous on my first day but I needn’t have been as everyone was lovely and very welcoming. I was shown around the building, given my ID pass and told more about the department and what I’d be doing during the two weeks. I’m happy to say that I was kept busy: sending out books to journalists, cutting out and filing news coverage, drafting and editing press releases, putting together material for the noticeboard, answering enquires via email, and of course some basic admin tasks too. I also got to sit in on the publicity meetings, as well as the larger scale Penguin Press meetings with the editorial, marketing and sales teams. This helped give me an overview of the publishing process.
Before I undertook the placement at Penguin, publicity was an area I’d never even considered before and it definitely opened my eyes up to the range of roles there are within publishing beyond editorial – which is what most people associate with publishing. The work experience at Penguin not only gave me invaluable experience that will help me with applying for jobs in the future, but it also confirmed that publishing is the career for me.
While studying English Literature at Reading there is also the fantastic opportunity to make some of your modules into academic placements and although I found my work experience independently of the university, I would definitely encourage people to consider this option and look into it. I think it’s a great way of easily incorporating some work experience into your degree. After all, although university is a great experience in itself, everybody wants a job at the end of it and work experience is always going to be a great addition to a CV or job application!
Please follow this link to find out more about our academic placements: http://www.reading.ac.uk/english-literature/Undergraduate/ell-academic-placements.aspx