‘I can confirm we would be happy to take you on for a two-week work experience placement’. I couldn’t believe it when I received Rebecca’s email: they had a free spot in June and they wanted me. I was finally going to do a placement at Edinburgh University Press. Scaring as it might seem, on the 4th of June I put on my brightest smile, took a deep breath, and started my first day. Little did I know that day that this would have been one of the most intense and formative experiences of my year here in Edinburgh as a publishing postgrad student. Should I tell all the things that I’ve done during my placement, two more weeks wouldn’t probably be enough. So, I’ve decided to list the highlights of my experience at EUP, a sort of a personal ‘best of’ of my internship.
Most rewarding achievement
I designed two promotional showcards that were meant to be shown at conferences. Given the time constraint – I had just a couple of hours to complete each one of them – I wasn’t really sure that the results would meet the marketing team’s expectations. To my surprise, not only did they like it, but also they decided to actually use them at the conferences.
Most surprising finding
Did you know you can work in Editorial and not have to edit, proofread, or copyedit? I did not know this…I’ve always thought that working in Editorial was all about commissioning, copy-editing, proof-reading, which was the reason why I’d never considered a career in this area in the UK – as a non-native speaker I thought I wouldn’t have any chance. As it turns out, some editorial positions do not require you having native speaker ability in English. As an Editorial Assistant, for example, you might find yourself mostly dealing with contracts, royalties and liaising with authors rather than copy-editing a manuscript. A brand new world was opening up to me, thanks to these wonderful people who explained to me how an Editorial department actually works.
Most challenging task
It wasn’t always easy. Sometimes I had to push myself to the limits and accept challenging tasks, testing myself with things I did not feel comfortable doing – the famous ‘stepping out of the comfort zone’ which basically brought me here from Italy in the first place. But I knew it would be worth it.
All of the tasks I was asked to fulfil were stimulating and somehow challenging for me, but there was one in particular that made me think ‘Okay, that’s it! Call yourself out and reveal to everyone you’re not able to cope with it.’ That was when I was asked to create a copy for a postal subscription campaign. Despite being provided with several examples and access to the immense, resourceful internet, I couldn’t help but think I couldn’t make it. Turned out I can write copy, too! Okay, might not have been the most convincing and nicely written letter anyone’s ever done, don’t even know if they actually ended up using it, but I was happy enough to have at least completed the task! And yes, I’d do it again.
Most inspiring person
During these two weeks I’ve met people from different departments, had the opportunity to hear from them about their jobs and get advice for my career. They were all super professional, but also extremely friendly to me. I started making a list of the people to whom I’m mostly grateful and from whom I’ve learned more.
I have to mention Rebecca, first and foremost, Journal Publishing Assistant and my guide throughout the entire experience. But also: Kirsty and all the editorial team; Ian, Ann and the wonderful production people; Carla, Naomi and the funny guys at marketing; Sarah and everyone at the journal department.
To answer the question ‘Who’s the most inspiring person you met?” I would say that each one of them has been inspiring to me: they gave me different perspectives on the company and on the industry and shared their experience and knowledge. I believe the thing that made this experience valuable is what I would call “the human touch”: this opportunity I had to link on a professional and personal level with all these wonderful people, their openness, the passion they communicated for their jobs, their making sure I felt like part of the team, even if only for a short time.