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Where to start

Think beyond the obvious job roles by looking at Prospects. Be aware that many English/AHSS students feel drawn to editorial roles in Publishing. Be tactical and think of other roles that might suit you such as sales, production, rights, marketing. Also consider “publishing” done by non-publishing companies (training manuals, product brochures).

Publishing now is high tech, with a large focus on online publishing and apps. Working on your IT skills (InDesign, Photoshop, Excel, general coding) will give you a significant advantage.

How to know if you’re suited to this sector

You should be keen to embrace the technological revolution rather than just liking books and bookshops. Having a penchant for business and being able to work well in a team will also be important.

Your main motivation should be having an interesting job and pleasant working environment, rather than earning a high salary.

How to get the experience to be credible

Any work experience with a publishing company will be useful. Publishing is a business: retail, sales or marketing experiences will also be valuable.

Publishing-related opportunities with student societies in Cambridge offer a lot of scope for you to develop your skills. You could try writing for Varsity or The Cambridge Student, or fundraise and run publicity for a student society. Accumulate experiences of working in a team and accomplishing projects.

Further study or certification required

If you are struggling to get into publishing there are some master’s courses available, but these are not essential. Spending your time on gathering relevant work experience will often be preferable. It is very worthwhile, however, doing short courses to increase your proofreading, web editing, project management, marketing or design skills.

How to find employers or training courses

The Bookseller is the main source of job advertisements. There are relatively few graduate schemes available in the sector.

For work experience, try applying speculatively or going through any contacts you may have (you can use LinkedIn or Handshake).

Tips for succeeding in the application or selection process

Roles in publishing are very diverse. You cannot send the same CV to everyone. Spend time properly tailoring your experience to the specific requirements of the role. Remember to evidence your achievements with numbers, hard facts or amounts of money—publishing is a business.

Think carefully about the ‘look’ of your CV or other documents. People who work in publishing spend a lot of time thinking about the choice of font and good layout. Equally, attention to detail is essential - no spelling, grammar, spacing, or punctuation mistakes.

What Cambridge offers to help with this career

Careers Service events, including a range of events for the creative industries.

Catch up with previous panels and talks and on the Careers Service YouTube Channel.

Current vacancies and potential employers can be found via Handshake.

You can gain relevant publishing experience at a plethora of student societies.

Other things you should know

Due to Amazon and the rise of e-books, the publishing sector is in crisis, with academic and fiction publishing especially struggling. Children’s literature, EFL (English for Learners), and commercial publishing are more buoyant.

Cambridge students who want to write their own material often think publishing is a good way in. It often isn’t. Work that exposes you to new experiences e.g. teaching in Japan, might be more beneficial. Listen to the podcast on Creative Writing.