My Week at Chicken House
Last week we were joined for a week's work experience by the lovely Becky, a third-year Creative Writing and Publishing student. Here, she tells us about her week in the coop ...
During the days leading up to my work experience at Chicken House I was pretty nervous. I've had jobs before, I even work as a bookseller now, but I’d got to my third year of a publishing course, without ever having stepped inside a publishing house. I was worried that I'd turn up and when given actual real life tasks I'd feel completely incompetent – in over my head – but worse than that I worried that I'd hate it. I was scared I would go home each day thinking, I can't do this, this isn't the job I thought it would be. Not only is that thought terrifying because I've spent the last three years working towards this exact thing, it's terrifying because I'm less than three months away from The Rest Of My Life and this job, this is what I was planning to do with it. Luckily for me, that's the complete opposite of what happened.
On my first day, when I was given a pile of submissions to read through, my first thought was, I'm not qualified for this. But if a lifetime of reading, almost a decade of writing (although I cringe at anything I wrote more than 5 years ago), and a publishing and creative writing degree just mere months from my grasp didn't prepare me, I don't know what would.
When I later sat down to write reader's reports, I was unexpectedly shocked how much I found to say about the manuscripts and I thought, there's my creative writing workshop skills. Writing summaries and blurbs was a little bit more of a challenge, but again, creative writing skills, copywriting and editing skills, I had them.
At uni, it was fantastic to earn good grades for projects I'd worked so hard on, but it was even more fantastic to learn that those projects really had given me something of value. Even with all I’ve been taught at uni, it took a week of work experience for me to realise how much I actually knew. How much my course was really preparing me.
In all honesty, I would have been happy to just sit back and listen, politely eavesdrop, on the conversations: the discussions about book covers, whether this sentence should be rearranged and what does everyone think of this manuscript? And I did get to do that, while busy with a fantastic variety of jobs: reading manuscripts, writing copy, tweets, and blog posts, plus a bit of admin.
The team at Chicken House were so welcoming and I cannot thank them enough for sharing their office and their knowledge and for a wonderful week surrounded by books in the making. Thanks to their generosity in allowing me to spend the week with them, I am more certain than I’ve ever been before that wherever I am, wherever I end up, I want there to be books.
To find out about work experience opportunities with Chicken House, please send a CV and covering letter to firstname.lastname@example.org.