Getting a Job in Publishing

A college senior told a friend of mine, “I think I’d like to work in publishing.”

So the friend asked me, “Do you have any suggestions I could offer her?” Here’s what I said.

The basic piece of advice I give folks interested in publishing is, “Be willing to take any job just to get your foot in the door.” So whether it is marketing or sales or design or production or editorial or operations or as a receptionist–take it. Here’s why.

First,

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once you are inside, it is much easier to move around from one job to another. The managers learn who you are, what you have to offer, how hard working you are, the kind of initiative you take and where you might fit. So you have a leg up on those on the outside who they might not know much at all.

People say networking is the way to get a job. And that’s true. Well, once you are inside, you can network much more effectively by getting to know people on the job and socially. That’s why an internship can be so valuable as well. We actually hire about one of every three or four interns.

Second, someone who has worked in two or three departments is actually very valuable. Such people have a much broader view of what the publishing operation is all about–how editorial affects marketing and vice versa, how design fits in and can work best with other departments, and so on.

Third,

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once on the inside, you have an opportunity to hear about job openings before they are posted. If someone is leaving or new positions are being created, you have the chance to learn about that at an early stage before it goes public. That way you can let key people know of your interest. Depending on the company, some jobs may not get posted because managers already know who they want to hire from within.

So often when people say they are interested in publishing, it is the editorial or writing side they have in mind. But publishing is actually a very interesting business and someone with a curious mind (which editors and writers should have) can actually find all aspects (or at least several aspects) quite fascinating.

So again, I would say don’t dismiss a job opening just because it isn’t exactly at the heart of what you think you are looking for. Just get in the door.

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