Tapping into the world of Publishing

A few months ago I wrote this, a post about being an undergraduate and facing rejection from the world of work. I’m glad and proud to say that I’m no longer an undergraduate, but have now graduated in English and Spanish. But am I still being rejected from jobs? Yes and no.

Applying for jobs and being let down is something we all have to deal with. Apart from that one lucky buggar who struck gold with their first application. That wasn’t me. However, I have been extremely lucky with some of my contacts. One of them put me in touch with the Head of Content at their company, and now I’ve found myself in a freelance Online Content Writing role where I get to decide how much I’m paid. Not bad for my first job as a graduate. It seems to be going well, and fits in with my main worry of trying to get a job in the Publishing sector. After quite a few applications and rejections, I came across a traineeship that could be a great way for me to tap into the world of Publishing.

HarperCollins, one of the Big Five in the Publishing world, launched a BAME (Black and Minority Ethnic) traineeship last year to much success. Schemes like this highlight the fact that the social and ethnic makeup of companies’ employees don’t reflect the diversity of London. HarperCollins are very much aware of this so this year, they’re running the scheme again. I stumbled across a tweet about it and decided to apply. Lucky for me, I got through the first round, and now the second.

The first was a video interview that wasn’t actually face-to-face, but rather me looking at the screen and waiting for a question to pop up. 30 seconds later and I had to conjure up a decent enough answer to put me through to the next round.

I’d almost forgotten about it all until I received an email from the HR intern inviting me to a half-day assessment at HarperCollins’ swanky new offices in London Bridge. So that’s where I went just a few days ago. With a talk from one of the directors, and one from a current trainee, us 40 applicants got a real feel of the culture of HarperCollins, the programme, and what was expected of us on the day, in between lots of mingling.

The interview itself was informal and short, and didn’t actually require any preparation at all. The first comment from one of the interviewers set the tone: “I wish we had longer than ten minutes because I wanna hear all about Mexico!” Another question which was actually really fun to think about was the dinner party scenario: if you could invite four people to your dinner party who would they be? F. Scott Fitzgerald because of Gatsby and all that, Emer O’Toole because she’s one of the best current feminist writers I’ve ever come across, Michael Eavis for making Glastonbury what it is today (and to also chuck in how I volunteer for Bhopal Medical Appeal while there), and Arundhati Roy because, honestly, I wanted to throw in a BAME writer.

Ten minutes and four questions later, I’d given my two interviewees an insight into me, my personality, my interests, and my character. I had actually enjoyed myself, smiled practically the whole way through, and spoke a whole lot about my love of different cultures.

So from 40 they had to cut us down to 15. We were to be informed a week later whether or not we’d be one of the final 15. But to our surprise, we all received emails the next day. At that moment I was working at The Queen’s Club stuffing envelopes (fun, right?) so it completely took me by surprise when I found out that I’d been invited to the next assessment day.

So on 11th September I’ll be returning to HarperCollins’ offices for a much longer interview, a presentation, and a group task. Seems pretty daunting as this is something I’ve never done before, so I’m undoubtedly nervous. However, I’ve got this far so at least I’ve got the potential. Whether or not I become one of two trainees for HarperCollins, I am sure that the whole experience will be a learning curve for me. I’ve enjoyed it so far, and I intend to make the most out of 11th September regardless of how it may or may not go.

All I can think right now: I’ve actually jumped over the first two hurdles of a rigorous selection process and haven’t fallen flat on my face.


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