Always, ALWAYS, be prepared to talk about what you’re reading.
Despite the auspicious title of this article, I can’t actually tell you how to get a job in publishing.
Fewer and fewer jobs are opening up in this industry every day, and young people are having to get pretty creative to snag the few entry-level positions left. I’ve heard some wild success stories, from turning a blog into a social media marketing position, to being offered a job via Twitter and then working on spec for weeks before signing a contract. There’s no right way to get a job, and even though I was hired by the newly formed McClelland & Stewart Doubleday Canada Publishing Group two months ago (as those of you who have been following will already know), my route won’t work for everyone. I’m still surprised it worked for me.
While I might not be able to tell you how to get a job, I can offer some of the useful tips that helped me to get where I am.
- Get an internship. What they say is true: it’s about who you know. You may have wicked-cool editorial skills, but if no one knows you, you’re not getting hired. The best way for anyone to get to know you is through an internship. An internship is an immediate in: you work with editors, you go to meetings, and you get invitations to events. But how do you get an internship?
- Enrol in a publishing program. Almost all of the publishing programs I’ve come across boast an internship program. Some schools post internship notices and others help put you directly into a position. Ryerson, for example, sends its students postings from the top publishing firms in Toronto. You don’t have to finish the certificate program to get the notices either; you start getting them as soon as you begin your first class. Schools with reputable publishing programs are Ryerson University, Humber College, Centennial College, and Simon Fraser University.
- Once you get an internship, don’t mess up. (See tips on how to survive your internship here.)
- Go to all the events. Well, at least a large chunk of them. It’s not important to stay long and it’s not important to kill yourself trying to make it to all of them, but it is important to let your colleagues see that you are dedicated to the company and supportive of your co-workers. Not to mention, getting time outside the work week to talk to fellow publishing-types is invaluable. Let them see how much fun you are!
- Get yourself noticed. This doesn’t mean you ought to buy a unicycle or learn how to do a handstand (though it couldn’t hurt…), but it does mean you shouldn’t let your internship pass you by without connecting meaningfully with your colleagues. Start a blog, ramp up your Twitter presence, or take on some other perhaps arts-related job on the side. To find out how blogging changed this publishing professional’s life, read this.
- Always, ALWAYS, be prepared to talk about what you’re reading. I’ve been asked what I’m reading at every publishing interview I’ve been to (and unfortunately, I never was ready for it). You can prepare as much as you like, but all that preparation is moot if you blank out on what’s on your bedside table. After all, a love of reading is the first and foremost prerequisite for a job in publishing!
If you have any tips to add about how to find work in publishing, please share them!
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