The Usborne Academy: An Internship Going That Extra Mile

Posted on July 23, 2018 in News & Reviews, UK

You may have noticed that the SYP has recently launched a campaign to increase inclusivity, within our society and the industry on a wider level.

One of the steps we are taking is to revise our Jobs Board policy (details of which can be seen here), and as part of this we will no longer advertise unpaid internships. We believe this is a vital step in acknowledging there is an elitism issue within our industry, and in making sure the door is opened as widely as possible for aspiring young publishers from all across the country, whatever their background, to become a part of our book-loving family.

We also recognise that some organisations are already doing fantastic work in this area, and we want to champion and promote schemes which are set up to help aspiring young publishers to get their foot in the door. Alongside the brilliant Book Trade Charity and Spare Room Project, we’re really excited about The Usborne Academy, a programme established by the children’s publisher which offers the whole package – work experience, accommodation and travel to London.

The Usborne Academy is an opportunity for eight people to spend a week at the publisher, gaining experience in all areas from editorial to design, marketing, production and rights. In addition, there will be lunchtime seminars and one-to-one mentoring sessions to help participants decide which area is right for them. On top of this, Usborne will pay their Academicians London Living Wage, provide accommodation for a week, a zone 1-2 travelcard, and pay rail fares from anywhere within the UK.

As someone who didn’t grow up in London, I can’t begin to describe how valuable this scheme is. Publishers need to recognise that not only have they been asking people to work for free – they’re actually expecting them to pay for the privilege of work experience. If you have to take holiday from your summer job, then spend a month’s wages to travel in and out of London every day, it can be draining on both your energy and your resources.

What’s great about the Usborne programme is that participants will be able to forget about these worries and focus entirely on getting the most out of the experience that they can. The social element is also really appealing, as being with seven other people in your position can be a huge confidence boost – especially if you’re not sure this industry is ‘for you’. We spoke to Anna Howorth, Director of Global Branding & UK Marketing at Usborne, to find out a bit more about the scheme.

 

What makes this scheme different from others offered within the industry?

I haven’t seen another scheme in the publishing industry that offers accommodation and travel, although the Spare Room Project is a great way for people who’ve got a placement set up to find free accommodation. We looked at all the people who are underrepresented in publishing and their barriers to entry, and decided that money was the common denominator – it’s so hard to know whether or not publishing is right for you if you can’t experience it, and we are aware that the cost of getting to, and staying in, London can be prohibitive.

What skills and experience will successful candidates gain from their week with Usborne?

We’re trying to offer a broad overview of what it’s like to work for a children’s publisher: what types of jobs are available on both creative and commercial teams, as well as what the culture of the industry is like (we think it’s friendly, dynamic and creative). The aim is for people to get a sense of the skills and aptitudes required for various functions, to find out what people do in their day-to-day jobs, and have lots of opportunities for people to ask questions of staff at all levels, so they can see if it’s the industry for them.

What are you looking for in an ideal candidate?

We really want to reach people who are not currently represented in the publishing industry, whether that’s because they’re from a low-SES background or because they’ve just never considered a job in publishing (which many people haven’t, unless they know someone in it). To that end, we have reached out to charities, libraries and job centres nationwide in an effort to break out of the ‘publishing bubble’. So we’re not seeing this as what we can get out of an ideal candidate as much as what we can offer to the candidate who most needs a break.

 

Applications for the Academy closed on 12 July, but keep an eye out on our blog over the next few months to find out how the inaugural Academicians have got on. You can find out more about the scheme on the Usborne website: www.usborne.com/academy or on Twitter (@Usborne #UsborneAcademy).

Sophie,

Vice Chair of UK Committee