When I first began the MSc Publishing course, the idea of doing a work placement was a really exciting, but also daunting prospect. As an International Ambassador for ENU, I get a lot of questions from prospective students about the placement module, questions similar to ones I had had before I began the course. Will your placement be provided to you by the course? What if you don’t get a placement in time? Why is the placement module helpful? After completing my placement I can now say I think it’s one of the most helpful elements of the MSc Publishing programme. What I’ve gathered about the publishing industry during this year is that it is a fairly tight-knit community, that can be tricky to just dive into without a foot in the door. With the MSc Publishing programme you are able to get that foot in the door, through modules like the placement one. It also encourages you to self-advocate, build your personal network, and challenge yourself to do things and talk to people who you might not have without the little push. After completing my placement and the taught portion of the course, I feel much more confident in my skills and abilities, and much more prepared to enter the industry.
So here is my personal story of how I found my placement, what it was like, and what I got out of it. Everyone’s is a little different, but hopefully this gives a good idea of what the module is like for anyone who might be considering this course:
In the first semester of the programme, I had only really started to put out feelers for placement opportunities. I had planned to do my placement in the second semester as I felt it would be a bit more manageable. This can be a risky move because you don’t want to delay applying for jobs and then feel like you missed your window of opportunities. I was working on my Case Study for the Publishing in Context module, where you study a publishing company, and investigate how it works and what its strengths and weaknesses are. I have always been interested in children’s publishing, so I decided to do my Case Study on a small children’s publishing company based remotely on the Isle of Lewis called Cranachan. As part of my Case Study, I wanted to interview the head publisher as well as one of the authors they publish. Both were extremely friendly, responsive, and helpful. The author only had positive things to say about the publishing company and spoke highly about them and the network they had created for their authors.
A few weeks later, I noticed on Twitter that Cranachan had been nominated for a Scottish Saltire Award. A few of my classmates had been shadow judges for the awards and so I thought I would attend the awards night to both support my peers as well as to say ‘thank you’ in person to the publisher of Cranachan who had been so helpful in my Case Study. I was quite nervous to do this as I am usually quite a shy person and the thought of approaching a publisher (even of a very friendly, independent company) was quite daunting. However, eventually I bumped into the publisher and the marketing director of Cranachan, I thanked them for their help, and then we got chatting. She told me how she was completely self-taught in publishing and design. I mentioned our placement module and offered any help if they ever needed. Then, standing right there at the Saltire Awards, the publisher offered me a placement starting in January. No interview, no application. I was incredibly thrilled.
Starting in January I began working for Cranachan. I got to read and edit an unpublished manuscript of a YA novel, I got to give my opinions and feedback on manuscript submissions, and I got to challenge myself and to create and design marketing materials such as bookmarks and social media banners for the book that I edited. It was very cool because it’s such a small company, I had the freedom to do a bit of everything, and really feel like the work I had done was valuable.
I actually feel quite sad that my placement has now finished. I really enjoyed working with everyone there and getting to put all the skills I have learned in the course to practical use. However, now that I have my placement under my belt, I have some real experience as well as a reference for my CV, and I feel much more confident to enter the publishing industry.