When we were asked to start looking for a placement towards the end of 2021, I was filled with a feeling of excitement as well as nerves. As an MSc Publishing student at Edinburgh Napier University, the placement is a perfect opportunity to gain practical experience in the industry we are all trying to enter. But at the same time, we knew that this industry was not the same as it had always been.
Reaching out to publishing houses, inquiring whether they would be able to take on a student in times where the majority of people were still working from home, was quite a daunting task, but at the same time, the perfect opportunity to practice writing and tailoring cover letters, wording emails, and updating our CVs.
The field of work I am most interested in, academic and educational publishing, didn’t always seem willing to provide students with the opportunity to do a placement. ‘We do not currently run placement programmes’ or something along those lines was often the reply, if I received a reply at all. Some were kind enough to send me the info for interesting summer internships, but unprecedented times meant that placements were not easy to come by.
That was until I received a reply from the director of Bright Red Publishing in December, asking me if I was still interested in a work placement and if I was available for an interview. Doing my placement at a renowned educational publisher in Scotland was a wonderful opportunity! The team at Bright Red were very interested in what I wanted my career to look like, what I was learning during my degree at Napier, and what I was hoping to get out of a placement at their company. They seemed like a very welcoming team, as eager to teach as I was eager to learn.
The placement would be remote. They informed me of this during the interview and made sure in correspondence that I was aware of and okay with this. Happy to be able to learn at their company, I told them this was fine. They allowed me to work on editorial tasks, do market research, and proofread texts. The fact that the team is quite small, means that one person is responsible for various stages in the editing process. This also meant that I was able to gain experience working on various projects and tasks.
Doing my placement at an educational publisher while the world is recovering from the pandemic was also interesting, as education has been hit hard by the pandemic. With teaching moving online for a long while, exams getting cancelled, and overall demand for print materials decreasing, while demand for digital materials increased, the educational publishing industry has had a busy two years, and an even busier time ahead. This makes me hopeful that, once I finish my degree, I will be able to find work in the academic or educational publishing industry.
While gaining the experience of working at an office would have been very different, I do not think that doing a remote placement was in any way taking away from my learning experience. If anything, it taught me to manage my time efficiently and in a balanced way, shaped my communicative skills since communication was a lot less direct, and forced me to work and solve problems independently. The director made sure that I could ask all the questions I had, gave me tasks that matched my interests most and regularly provided useful feedback which I could apply during next week’s tasks. I can honestly say that I have learnt so much during this placement and am even more certain that this is the line of work I want to do as my future career.
So, while finding a placement in times of Covid was definitely challenging, the placement provided me with exactly the experience and assurance I was hoping to get out of it!