Volunteering at Policy Press: an insight into the world of academic publishing

As Policy Press launches a new Volunteer Scheme, with the aim of providing a broad range of people the opportunity to gain exposure to the academic publishing environment, a previous Policy Press volunteer, Andy Chadwick shares his experiences…..

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Andy Chadwick, Policy Press volunteer

I contacted Policy Press about their work experience programme because I was interested in exploring different areas of work, and also because for the first time ever, my employment situation allowed me time to investigate other avenues.

Working as a bookseller, I wanted to find out more about the publishing side of the book industry. The fact that Policy Press is a not-for-profit academic publisher dedicated to putting out work that will make an important contribution and positive difference in the respective fields it deals in was also a major factor in my decision to apply. No danger, then, of having to call up various members of the book press to try and drum up excitement about the latest C-list celebrity autobiography or inane YouTuber tie-in.

It also offered a rare opportunity to get publishing experience without having to go to that London, or even worse: Oxford.

Placement

My placement was to be in the marketing team, who had a particularly busy period coming up and were in need of extra support. There was no shortage of things to do, and a typical day would consist of various administrative tasks, sending out books for review, researching contacts in the media or academia and updating and maintaining the publisher database.

It didn’t take long to settle in. Everyone was friendly and helpful and the considerable workload meant you were pretty quickly up to speed with a lot of tasks and procedures.

“I soon learned about how titles are prepared and marketed pre-publication, and the work that goes into ensuring they are seen by their target audience”

Working in a relatively small organisation meant it was easy to get a sound overview of what each department did and how everything fitted together. I soon learned about how titles are prepared and marketed pre-publication, and the work that goes into ensuring they are seen by their target audience.

If you are looking for experience in a specific area of publishing, my advice would be to state this up front when applying, so that you can be placed in a team where you can gain the right kind of experience.

I found the placement to be very useful, and I now have a much better knowledge of the publishing and marketing process. I’ve also become much better at managing a heavy workload and juggling a variety of tasks, skills that came from being able to perform real work that needed to be done, rather than the tea-making and photocopying I might have been assigned elsewhere.

So whether the volunteering is to assist in informing future career choices or as the first step for someone getting back into the professional working world the volunteering scheme at Policy Press aims to be flexible and supportive of an individual’s needs. Further information on the scheme can be found here.

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