The Spare Room Project offers people from outside London who want to do an internship the chance of having a place to stay free of charge for some or all of their time there. To make it even more appealing the people who offer to host work in the publishing industry themselves. It aims to ease the financial barriers that people outside of London may be faced with when taking up an internship opportunity in London, the hub of publishing in the UK.
After not having much luck with finding a placement locally in Edinburgh I turned my sights to London. Countless emails, cover letters, and CVs were sent across every publishing house I could find and just as my hope dwindled Abrams & Chronicle offered me a two-week internship in their marketing and publicity department. After my “OMG YES YES YES” email, only slightly more formal the reality set in. Pound signs flashed before my eyes like I was a cartoon character, as I did my research. Accommodation, food, train to London, the Tube all began piling their costs on my calculator. As the numbers inflated so did my panic. I needed this placement. I needed to gain industry experience. It was my chance to test out my skills from my MSc and to really experience publishing first hand.
Knowing I’d probably left it too late, I applied to the Spare Room Project on a whim thinking I had nothing to lose but everything to gain. I continued to scour websites trying to find a hostel that was reasonably priced, had no bed bugs, and passably clean toilets – more of a struggle than I ever really wanted to know.
Just as hope dwindled, an email notification dinged early one morning. It floated into my inbox titled “Spare Room Introductions” and I about squealed with joy. Someone was willing to host me for my first week of placement. Suddenly the pound signs and panic deflated at the prospect of only needing to secure accommodation for a week. But then the unbelievable happened! About a week from my start date, another email titled “Spare Room Introductions” landed in my inbox. I now had somewhere to stay for my second week of placement! It felt too good to be true, suddenly the hundreds of pounds I needed for accommodation were a distant memory, floating out of sight.
My first week I was placed out in Totteridge and Whetstone. It was about an hour commute into Abrams & Chronicle but that meant I could grab some early morning reading, never a negative! I was staying with a lovely family and their two cats. They made me feel so welcome from the moment I arrived, they invited me to join them for dinner every night and again for breakfast. It was so wonderful to know that I wasn’t alone in a hostel eating by myself every night. Instead I had conversation, laughter and amazing home-cooked meals to look forward to every night.
My second week I was transported to the complete opposite side of London over near Stratford. New Tube line and new area to discover. This time, I stayed with a young couple in their amazing newly renovated house, and first time hosters for The Spare Room Project. Once again, I was welcomed with open arms, warm meals, friendly conversations, and invitations to join them in their Netflix watching. What more could a newbie to London hope for? I loved getting to peek inside the world of audiobooks at Penguin Random House from listening to my host and learning something that didn’t come up during my classes.
Without The Spare Room Project I don’t think I would have gotten nearly as much out of my placement. I know if I had been living in a hostel with the constant reminder of pound signs flashing in my head every day, it would have caused constant anxiety and stress. Instead, it allowed me to put all my energy into learning and enjoying my placement and make connections in London as well as the publishing world.
Before I sign off, I wanted to extend a huge thank you to everyone who works on the Spare Room Project to help people like me from outside London have a viable option of completing a placement. As well, a huge thank you to both of my hosts who were so welcoming and generous enough to allow me to stay, and to Abrams & Chronicle for giving me such a great first-hand introduction to the publishing industry. It is such a fantastic initiative and I am so thankful to have gotten the chance to experience it, it made such a huge difference to my everyday life and perception of London and the publishing industry. So please make sure you sign up whether as a host and help someone out!