Earlier this year a number of events lead me to think about my career, and what I have achieved, and what I would like to achieve in the future. I am proud of what I have achieved in my current career, but looking ahead 20 years, I can’t picture myself still doing it.
I had a think about what I could do if I couldn’t continue in my current job, which lead to a moment of panic and a wail of “I don’t know how to do anything else!” A cup of tea later, I thought through all the things I like doing in my personal time, and realised that working in publishing might be a good choice. I did a little research, found some job profiles and adverts for various publishing positions, and decided that being an Editor seemed like a very attractive proposition.
I was looking for entry-level jobs at publishing houses, when I stumbled upon a tweet announcing the launch of Penguin Random House’s Scheme16. This is an amazing opportunity scheme that Penguin Random House ran for the first time last year, when they were looking for Marketing candidates. This year they were looking for Editors. The Scheme works like this: There are three rounds, and at the end of the final round, they select four candidates which are then offered a year of fully paid training with two of their divisions. I have repeatedly referred to it as a “golden-ticket opportunity”, and think that is a fitting description. There is no entry requirement to apply for the selection process – they are looking for people with certain aptitudes, and don’t discriminate on background, previous work experience, or qualifications – in fact at no point was I asked to provide a CV, a list of qualifications, or was asked about any of my work experience.
1,300 people applied for round one, and I was lucky enough to be one of 20 applicants to make it through to the final round.
It was an amazing experience, and I learnt a lot about both publishing and myself. In fact, in the days after the final round, and then in the weeks after being told that I wasn’t one of the lucky four to be given a place on The Scheme, my ideas and aspirations have really solidified. Given my time again, I absolutely would apply all over again, even knowing I wouldn’t be given a place at the end of the process.
The HR team at Penguin Random House were enormously supportive and friendly. Meeting them in the final round was a pleasure.
Since then my life seems to have exploded. Much time has been spent researching, bugging friends of friends who work in publishing for coffee or lunch so that I can pick their brains, and crafting a plan to get me into a position to work in publishing.
The written feedback I was provided with after the final round of The Scheme, and the activities which were used for assessment in that final round have informed much of my planning. I saw them as a list of requirements and attributes that help one become an ideal editorial assistant candidate.
I have joined the Society for Editors and Proofreaders. I met with the London regional group organiser who patiently answered hundreds of questions and was very encouraging.
This led me to begin the Publishing Training Centre’s Basic Proofreading Course. Once I have completed it, I plan to use the acquired skills to begin a part-time freelance proofreading business, and to work towards upgrading my SfEP membership.
I have also begun an Open University part time BA(Hons) English Literature and Language degree. Although this will take some time to complete, I feel that the skills and knowledge gained will be valuable in the long-run.
I will, of course, be continuing this blog with more book reviews. I hope to develop the blog, finding ways to make it a valuable resource in the wider book-review community.
I have also taken the huge decision to wind-down my current career so that I can focus fully on studying, acquiring publishing-specific skills, and applying for publishing positions. I will be seeking a part-time job in a bookshop (naturally!) to provide me with an income until that magic publishing position is in my hands.
My other half reminds me often that the joy of an accomplishment is not just in the end achievement, but in the journey that carries you there. So, I will be posting here regularly, recording the journey for myself, and for anyone else it proves to be instructive to. I encourage you to share your insights and your journeys with me, and your gems of information and wisdom. My comment boxes are always open. I hope to speak with you soon.