When I think back to the time that I was researching the postgraduate publishing course at Edinburgh Napier University, the work placement module was the most exciting but simultaneously, daunting prospect. How could I, with my incredibly limited knowledge of publishing, blag my way through 10 weeks in a real life office without making a complete fool of myself? Would I even be able to secure a placement? Having tried a few times before to gain experience I knew it was competitive. So how was I going to change the discourse of “sorry we cannot take you on at this time”, “we simply don’t have the resources at the moment” “we do not offer work placements for students” to a resounding “yes we would love to have you.”
It was in December, having emailed some companies throughout the year and applied to a couple placement opportunities, that I was beginning to be a bit disillusioned with the whole idea. And then I got a reply from Jamie at the Arkbound Foundation, an indie publisher in Glasgow who were my first choice due to their inclusive ethos and social enterprise model. They replied and said they were looking for an intern and could I complete the editing task. Somehow, I managed to impress them (I can only attribute this to the skills I learned on the publishing course as I didn’t even know what a ‘track changes’ button was a year ago) and I got asked to interview, and then accepted into the role of editorial assistant intern.
Within the first couple weeks I was given a chapter of a manuscript to edit. A real manuscript that is actually going to be published! This was so exciting as I got to put into practice all the skills we had been learning throughout the first trimester. From there, I completed 5 training days with Jamie, where I learned a range of skills. The perks of Arkbound being such a small company was that I got a taste of everything: promotion, manuscript reviews, editing, social media marketing. A couple weeks later I was creating AI sheets and press releases and managing social media accounts. Jamie took so much time to fully train me and show me why we were completing these tasks and how to do them properly, for which I will always be grateful. The range of skills I learned here was more than I’d ever thought I would get the opportunity to do as an intern and this was purely down to the patience and dedication of Jamie and the team at Arkbound.
I surprised myself, to be honest, that I was able to complete all my tasks to (what I hope was) a high standard and received consistently positive feedback from Jamie and the team. They were so encouraging, which gave me the confidence to take initiative and complete tasks without being asked and go the extra step to show I had really taken on board their input and wanted to complete everything for them as best I possibly could. Following the 10 week placement period, I was offered the part time position of editorial assistant and I am now a fully-fledged member of the team. I can’t explain how rewarding it is to be told I was valuable enough to be kept on and now to be paid for this wonderful experience. Thinking back to the first day of the course where I felt completely overwhelmed and thought the best I could get would be shadowing someone in an office, I can’t believe how fortunate I was to work with this publisher. They have a genuine desire to train and inspire and this experience has given me such a good foundation to continue into the publishing workplace.
So, if there’s any anything I’ve learned from this experience and some advice I could give to anyone who finds themselves in my position, it’s this: trust your skillset. It is unique to you and the most powerful tool you have. Trust that you know more than you think. New tasks can be daunting but take your time to think them through and you will be surprised at the results. Trust that for the seemingly endless rejections will come an acceptance email. What’s for you won’t pass you by and sometimes that means disappointment from unsuccessful applications for a better option to come.