#SEDCareers: English graduate Mary Carter on her week with Palgrave Publishing

Before my internship with Palgrave Macmillan Journals I had only four days unpaid experience in an office environment. I had met the team’s Publisher, Amy Shackleton, at a careers evening at Queen Mary a few months previously, and since exchanged several emails and had one telephone interview, which culminated in my appointment as their summer intern. I was thrilled, of course, but in the days preceding my stay with the journals team, I was nevertheless a little apprehensive. On Sunday evening various questions occurred to me as I tried to mentally prepare myself for any undesirable situations: ‘What if I’m late on my first day?’; ‘What if I don’t get along with my colleagues?’; ‘What if I can’t keep up with the work?’ The new job jitters were getting to me.

I had been told to arrive at the Glasshouse Building at 9:45am for an orientation with HR. Having looked up the location of this building beforehand and checked the underground schedule for any delays, I arrived early and so was able to sit down in the foyer and collect myself before being given a tour with some other new employees. At least now I knew I could dismiss my fear of tardiness.

As I was only being employed on a temporary basis, after the tour I was taken off into a separate conference room and shown a quick slideshow detailing the terms of my contract, how and when I was going to be paid, and a basic outline of who Springer Nature are (Springer Nature is the merged company name for the majority of brands under Macmillan Science and Education and Springer Science+Business Media, of which Palgrave Macmillan is a part ). Feeling reassured that my needs would be looked after throughout my internship, I was then returned to the Glasshouse Building’s foyer, and told to wait for Beatrix Daniel, Assistant Publishing Manager and my mentor for the week.

Meeting Beatrix and the rest of the team (Lucy Wheeler, Marta Kask, who works at their New York office, and the aforementioned Amy Shackleton) dispelled any lingering worries. I had the opportunity before lunch to speak with each of them in turn about the different aspects of their jobs, their professional backgrounds, and to ask them any questions I had. They were all extremely easy to talk to, and made me feel very welcome. Lunch brought with it a time to get to know this close-knit team a little better, and I spent a very enjoyable hour discussing various topics with them, over a lunch they had kindly bought me in the company café.

What were the highlights of my week? The first was sitting in on a meeting between Lucy Wheeler and the editorial board for the European Journal of Development Research, one of the journals for whom she is Publishing Manager. I was fortunate to experience this, as such a meeting happens only once or twice a year, and one member of the board had even flown all the way from Australia to be there! Our presence was required for the whole morning, during which the journal’s progress and ideas for its improvement were discussed while I took the minutes. When we broke for lunch the feeling in the room was one of satisfaction: significant progress had been made, I had written several pages of useful notes, and there was food left over for Lucy and I to take back to the office!

Buoyed up by the success of the morning, I settled myself at my desk and consulted the timetable Beatrix had handed me at the beginning of the week. That afternoon I was to meet with two members of the Palgrave Macmillan journals production team. These were to be the first of several meetings Beatrix had arranged for me throughout the week, each with individuals working within Springer Nature, but in different areas of publishing. These conversations were highlights because, prior to my starting at Palgrave I had told Beatrix that I wanted to learn as much about the industry as possible, and she certainly made sure of this!

Over the course of the week I spoke with people from Palgrave Macmillan books team, the Open Access team, Nature Publishing Group, and marketing, and by Friday my head was buzzing with the multitude of career possibilities afforded by academic publishing.

Another highlight for me was due to my internship coinciding with the team’s recruitment of a Publishing Assistant. Amy was conducting the interviews and, as it is an entry-level position well-suited to recent graduates, she thoughtfully obtained permission for me to sit in on one of the interviews. It was a superb opportunity for me to gain an insight into what to expect when in the candidate’s shoes, and also to get some valuable feedback from Amy regarding the dos and don’ts of first interviews.

All in all, I came away from my week with Palgrave positive that I had learnt a great deal about academic publishing, and about the individuals within Springer Nature who ensure the world is never short of interesting and varied research publications. I also left feeling as though I had had not only an informative week, but an enjoyable one too. Though the Palgrave Journals team work extremely hard, they also know how to have fun outside of work. Included in the week’s social calendar was the lovely lunch I have already mentioned, a rehearsal with the staff choir, and a post-work pub trip.

My week with Beatrix, Amy, Lucy, and (though I never met her in the flesh) Marta showed me that journal publishing is a challenging, complex, and highly rewarding line of work. From meetings with dedicated academics to troubleshooting from your desk, no two days are the same, and I would like to thank them all for ensuring I had such a valuable and fun week.

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All Things SED Editor

I am the Web and Marketing Administrator in the School of English and Drama. Amongst my various roles, I run the School's website (www.sed.qmul.ac.uk) and its Twitter feed (@QMULsed). I also manage the running of the School's Open Days and draft promotional materials.