Produced by Jasmine Connolly
Placements and trying to find one… those good old terrifying times from second year. While some courses are set to have a year, others like us in Scriptwriting get to choose between a short or long experience.
Whether you have a month or year placement, finding the right place for you is one of the toughest decisions you’ve got to make in your whole degree… and yet so very rewarding. I think ‘the right place for you’ is the key point in that sentence, at least from what I have found. You can be offered one of the greatest placements ever at a leader in the industry, however, if in the end that’s not what you want to do or where you want to be, you might as well reconsider the current direction you are taking.
Back in September 2016, when all conversation about placements started this year, I was quite certain I wanted to go for a longer placement. Nevertheless, I wasn’t all too sure about where I wanted to be, what I wanted to do, with whom I wanted to work. While having a short month placement felt a little too short for me, others on my course were pretty happy to do it and then focus on finishing their degrees. We are all different, which is ok; just bear that in mind.
Being a Spanish student, I was lucky to know a different country and culture so well (aside from England). Some might have said I had broader horizons in terms of where to go, and what to do, however, I feel we’re all in the same place. Others before me and myself, as international students, had to decide once upon a time to travel to that strange yet charming and unknown place called England… so nothing stops you from doing the same and securing that placement abroad.
A key point to remember is that there is nothing wrong for international students to find a placement back home. I want to stress this point, as quite often us international students push ourselves too much and get a little “obsessed” with the whole, “keep going, further, further, further away… and never look back” thing. We have proven that we can be keen travellers but it’s good to remember that there’s nothing wrong with going home sometimes.
I’ll stop the rambling now but the truth to the matter is that finding my placement was tough. It was so stressful, let me tell you. Just so that you get what I’m saying, I started looking for placements in Oct/Nov 2016 and didn’t secure it until July/August 2017! You’ll probably be luckier than me, or at least I hope so! If that experience showed me something, it is that it’s important to keep working, no matter how many deadlines might be looming. In Spain, we have a saying: “Quien la sigue, la consigue”, (Who chases it, wins it), I feel it suits this situation pretty well. Whilst probably finding a one-month placement is easier, if you’re a stubborn one like me who was certain to find a year internship, it’s important that you don’t lose hope! Your place is there, somewhere. Keep looking. (Also, uni is there for you… and friends! Complaining a little in your favourite town café is advisable for stress relief every once in a while… at least I found it reassuring!).
What else am I saying; interviews, right! You might get a few, or loads of them, but they are all important. You want to make your best impression, dress smart and wear those fancy office shoes you bought two days before, but, if you take some advice, lying is not the best… No matter how much you want that placement. Sure, we all exaggerate things a little during interviews and try to become those amazing individuals our mum wants us to be. However, I would avoid lying about what you like, or else, you might find yourself having a tough time. One month is okay, however, imagine 6+ months doing something you absolutely hate or find boring… no thanks. You might think you want that placement but I would recommend taking some time to really understand yourself, what you want to do, what you like and who you want to be.
After a few months panicking, applying to all sorts of crazy places (some had nothing to do with what I liked) e.g. businesses that handled electronics, fashion magazines, newspapers… I got an email from Disney, calling me in for an interview. I was over the roof and did pretty well on the following rounds. I got to the final stage, but in the end, I didn’t get the placement. I was really disappointed, but let me tell you that now in hindsight, I feel that somehow this was meant to happen. Sounds crazy I know. I’m not talking about destiny or fate as I’m not a superstitious person. I mean that people are going to reject you but life continue, things keep happening, situations can arise, and you might find that where you ended up is actually better than where you originally wanted to be.
The truth is that when it comes to things that make my heart flutter from excitement, childrens stories aren’t in my top three. It is funny how one rejection made me think about that, or amusing to see how little we actually know ourselves sometimes.
So after Disney I got some other rejections which made me feel lost for a while. I sat down and started brainstorming about all the different paths I could take as someone that had studied scriptwriting. While being exposed to editing, visual storytelling, structure and how to tell a story, I realised that I could certainly apply that to lot of other scenarios.
You’re going to allow me to fall a little on cliché here… I know we’ve all heard that “I’ve always wanted to do X since I was a young” thing, but… I always wanted to write books and loved books since I was young. I loved reading! Old books! New books! Sci-fi books! Romantic books! Adventure books! Mystery books, Thriller books! Books-too-adult-for-my-age-I-shouldn’t-have-read books! Okay, you get the vibe. The fact that I had never considered going into the publishing industry and becoming an editor, copyrighter, production chief, translator, etc., shocked me. It felt too right.
After that, I started applying everywhere. I made myself that nice cover letter we all do at some point, but this time, I directed at the publishing industry. I researched the companies I wanted to work at, I made sure the books they were making were something I liked and wanted to be a part of. I didn’t wait for businesses to ask for applications, I made myself a list of publishers and started spamming (I only sent one email per business, don’t get too excited, but I did make sure I emailed many different places).
From the fifty publishers I emailed, only six responded, six that wanted to have an intern, or that hadn’t considered taking an intern but were suddenly happy to. I learnt from this that you never know who might need or want your help. Your right employer might not even know they want you until you message them.
Some weeks went by, and I got an offer from Penguin Random House. I could feel my inner self jumping. However, (yeah, I told you finding my placement was tough for me!) as much as I loved the idea of joining the team that company made, it wasn’t quite the department I was craving for… and marketing felt a little outside of my area of expertise at that time. For this reason, I decided to further search into my options and other editorials.
Further searching brought me across another editorial. It was different from previous ones I had found, it was smaller, but hey, that wasn’t a bad thing. You see, the situation with the creative and entertainment businesses, is that no one feels prepared to allow a “newbie” to get a hands on a position that requires a bigger degree of responsibility. You’ll find that bigger companies are more reluctant to let interns work on big projects, but, and here’s the good part, smaller businesses are more open to. That’s how I ended up working in the production department (or editing department) at Plataforma Editorial. A lively and young publisher in Barcelona, Spain. (See? You never know what might bring you home…! Or almost, I’m not really from the Catalonian area, so it was new for me anyways, but you get what I mean).
Though my placement is almost coming to an end, this has been one of the most rewarding years of my life. For real. I feel I have learnt a lot about myself, and have a clear idea of what I want to do after uni (even if I still have a soft spot for film and TV in my heart!). You could say I’m currently living how I want to after uni. I spend the first half of the day at the publisher, working with authors, reviewing and correcting drafts, handling phone calls with customers and collaborators and helping out in other departments, mainly media, social media and advertising. (Another good thing about smaller businesses is that you get a very wide perspective of the industry because you get to see the job of other colleagues, not only the one in your department). Talking about working on other departments, recently, we organised a presentation for one of our books, which we pitched to a Spanish producer, Atresmedia Cine, and it’s being considered for a film… so yeah, still loving my scriptwriting background.
In the afternoons, I get to have some time for myself, which I’m mostly spending on a crime novel I’m writing. I have also been collaborating with another editorial from Valencia, Kelonia Editorial, translating the works from several authors: Dan Chaon, Joe Meno, Ramsey Campbell to name a few, on an anthology series dedicated to Ray Bradbury.
It’s been a crazy ride, but it’s you who’s searching for placements now so, I hope this has been useful at some extent. To end (Yey! You’ve made it here!) I’d just like you to bear these things in mind:
- Things might not go how you’ve planned, and that’s okay.
- You’re going to get rejected, and that’s okay.
- You’re going to meet loads of new people and you might find yourself somewhere you would’ve never imagined, and that’s okay.
Just do what makes you happy, and try to make the most of your time on placement. In the meantime, don’t panic, have fun… and hunt those businesses down!
They’re more approachable than you think.
Plataforma Editorial: http://www.plataformaeditorial.com/
Plataforma Neo: http://www.plataformaneo.com/
Kelonia Editorial: http://www.kelonia-editorial.com/Tienda/index.php
Shadow Show. Cuentos en homenaje a Ray Bradbury: http://www.kelonia-editorial.com/Tienda/index.php?id_product=117&controller=product