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The Spare Room Project: Helen’s Experience Hosting Publishing Interns

What is the Spare Room Project and how does it work?

Let’s be honest, opportunities in the publishing industry are mainly in London and this can be a real obstacle for anyone looking to enter the industry from outside of the capital. This is where the Spare Room Project comes in.  In 2016, James Spackman (publisher and consultant) with the support of the Publishers Association, set up this project, which provides aspiring publishers with the opportunity to stay in the city for free and take up work experience placements.

So how does it work?  It’s simple really: interns are matched with hosts who are willing to offer their spare room for a week.  If you sign up to the Spare Room Project, you’ll be added to a mailing list and alerted when there are new lodgers to host.  There’s no immediate obligation to host and you only need reply when you see dates that will work for you.  I would urge anyone with a spare room to sign up and see whether you can help now or in the future.

Helen’s experience hosting interns

I’m excited to be hosting my third Spare Room Project intern in June.  Not being a Londoner by upbringing, I am sympathetic to the challenges facing anyone looking to enter the industry from outside of the publishing hubs of London, Oxford and Cambridge, so it’s been great to be involved in this scheme.  It’s not only good to be doing something practical to enable those without existing contacts to gain an insight into publishing and hopefully get a foot in the door, but it’s also been an enjoyable and enriching experience from my point of view.  We’ve had two quite different guests so far, one who was a huge fan of musical theatre and managed to get cheap tickets for shows most evenings, so we hardly saw her and our second guest, who quickly became part of the family and was a huge hit with (and incredibly tolerant of) my children.  Quite different experiences, but both were perfect lodgers and no problem at all to host.

You can find out more here https://thespareroomproject.co.uk/ or on their Twitter, @SpareRoomProj, and don’t just take my word for it, read some of the testimonials on the PA’s website and check out their FAQs https://www.publishers.org.uk/activities/inclusivity/spare-room-project/.

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Q&A Round Up

Last week was the Publishers Association’s #workinpublishing week! We did a Q&A on Twitter – if you missed it, you can catch up here.

Q: What are the key features recruiters look for in a CV and Cover Letter when recruiting for entry level publishing jobs?

A: Office/admin experience is useful across the board, as are work experience, internships or temp roles in publishing houses! A well written, clear and concise cover letter will also get you a long way.

Q: How important do you think events like literary events and trade shows are?

A: Getting to know people at industry events can be really useful, especially as you can get a feel for different roles and sectors! Having said that, it’s not compulsory, so if you don’t live in London and you can’t get to events easily, don’t worry!

Q: When considering a job offer, it’s not just about salary. What else should candidates be thinking about?

A: Consider what’s important to you – the commute time, flexible working opportunities, training/professional development and company benefits!

Q: What are the most desirable additional tools to have experience in?

A: It depends on the role! But skills like InDesign, social media, general admin/database experience are useful for a lot of publishing work.

Q: I have a lot of volunteer experience with indie pubs, and I’m starting to look for my first publishing job. What would you say my next step should be?

A: Sounds like you should start applying for entry-level roles! You’d also be a great temping candidate, which can sometimes lead to long term roles.

Q: how can I make myself stand out from the hundreds of other graduates when applying for jobs?

A: Make your cover letter stand out by talking about your work experience, any temp roles, admin experience, and extracurricular interests which give you transferable skills!

Q: Are entry level publishing roles hard to come by? I feel like I haven’t seen many around since I graduated.

A: Entry-level roles are VERY competitive so get filled quickly, but a great way to get your foot in the door is through temping! Register with us for temping opportunities and we may be able to help.

Q: What are the most in demand roles in publishing?

A: Most people want to work in editorial, but publishers are always looking for Commissioning Editors and Production Controllers!

Q: What are your top tips for writing a good CV?

A: Be clear and concise, use bullet points, and put most relevant experience at the top! No long paragraphs please! For more tips see our blog post here.

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