Work Experience

DSCN8260It’s July! Exams are over, and in many schools it’s time to relax… or, in later years, time for work experience. This is where students get to try out the world of work for a few days, and employers get some extra help.

A couple of weeks ago, I was surprised to receive a beautifully written email from a young person who wanted to sample the job of being an author, asking me whether I might be able to offer a placement.

My first thought was: “Wow! What a great idea!”

My second thought was: “Help! How?”

The truth is, many authors don’t work ‘office hours’. There are times when we visit schools and libraries, and we also sometimes meet our agents and editors. But really, the bulk of our work is done whenever it can be fitted in. For me, this is usually evening and night time – which is also when I’m writing this post!

And how is our working time spent? Well, I can’t speak for other authors, but my main work activity is probably frowning at my computer followed by staring into space. At intervals, there will be bursts of furious typing. It’s maybe not much of a learning experience for anyone watching. Though there might be the odd bit of entertainment here and there. For example, I’ve found out from my children that I tend to make the expressions of my characters as I write.

I should add that work experience with authors is not unheard of. In this post, award-winning author Nicola Morgan writes about hosting two students. They helped with proofreading, went to a book festival and met an agent, among other fun and bookish things.

I also found this post on a job site that explains the work of an author, and gives reasons why work experience with authors might be difficult.

The site lists the attributes needed to be a writer. (Would you agree with them? Would you add anything?)

Quoted directly from My Job Search.com:

  • Creativity and originality
  • A love of reading stories and literature
  • Great research skills
  • An ability to convey ideas in a clear and engaging manner
  • Patience and dedication
  • Ability to take criticism constructively
  • Ability to deal with rejection undeterred
  • Good networking skills
  • Ability to work alone unsupervised

Sadly, after a lot of thought, I had to write back and say that work experience wasn’t something I could offer. But I hope this person gets another placement, possibly with a publisher or agent, and I hope they take the literary world by storm. (And huge thanks to them for making me think, and for inspiring this post!)

What would be your dream work experience placement?


Image by Pippalou at MorguefileDSCN8260

6 thoughts on “Work Experience

  1. Hi Luisa. You are right in all you say. Thanks for linking to my post from when I offered work experience a couple of years ago. I’ve actually just done it again recently and it was stupendously successful because the girl was completely ACE! In fact, I’ve offered her some paid work during her summer holidays – she’s coming to a festival with me as my assistant and film crew! But I’ve also turned down enquiries, mainly because the young people concerned didn’t sound enthusiastic enough in their approaches, so my tip to young people wanting work experience is: sound enthusiastic and make sure you’ve read the author’s work and really knw what they do!

    I had to work very hard to make the experience useful and interesting for the teenagers who came to me, because, as you say, we usually work on our own. But it definitely worked the two times I’ve done it. I’m going to blog about the recent experience very soon.

  2. Hey Luisa!! 😀

    My dream work experience would be helping Julie Sykes or Linda Chapman with one of their stories! I can’t even imagine what that dream would be like! 😀

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