An important part of our publishing degree is securing and conducting a placement with a company in the industry in order to gain hands-on experience. I was lucky enough to arrange six weeks of work experience with the Edinburgh-based distribution service, Alban Books. Initially wary of how I would juggle the placement alongside my studies, it ended up serving as a perfect accompaniment to the theoretical and design based work I was being introduced to during my course.
My own mentor for the six weeks, Elaine, kindly arranged a meeting with me at Waterstones to provide a quick brief of my on-going role as well as to answer any questions. This one-to-one chat beforehand, a much more relaxed version of an interview, allowed me to understand what was expected of me before I started. This open, helpful environment remained throughout the six weeks. It was a great comfort to know that I could ask advice regarding my course as well as well as the industry at any time.
Additionally, Elaine and the whole of the Alban team were very open to supporting my own learning by encouraging me to pick tasks that I had little experience of but wanted to master. For example, I was interested in the marketing aspects of publishing and wished to know more about how it’s carried out by different publishers. I was then given insight into how Alban conducted their own market research using online data.
What was great about my placement at Alban was the flexibility. I was given the chance to pick days that best accommodated my university schedule. Having my lectures and classes at the beginning of the week and then being able to inquire about what I had learned during placement hours was a perfect arrangement.
As a newbie to the design aspects of publishing, having to create sales flyers at Alban alongside delving into the ways of InDesign in class provided me with a thorough and well-rounded understanding of a skill I had little experience of before my course began.
My placement at Alban Books proved informative and essential for my professional and personal development. It was also encouraging to be constantly surrounded by a supportive network of people. As previously expected, publishing is an industry full of helpful professionals on hand to offer advice at any time. My time at Alban is still something that I reflect on during my studies, and I regularly apply the skills I inherited from it.