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Virtual work experience for 230 people inspires students to consider publishing career

Good quality work experience is harder than ever for young people to find and equal access to opportunity is even more challenging since the Pandemic. Work experience offers a chance to gain insights into the operations of an international organisation, as well as valuable contacts and hands-on experience, which can be instrumental in gaining future employment.

Students taking part in virtual work experience
Students taking part in virtual work experience

At Cambridge University Press (the Press) and Cambridge Assessment we are proud to offer work experience opportunities for people in our local communities around the world. In this article, Heidi Mulvey, Head of Community Engagement at Cambridge University Press and Cambridge Assessment, shares more about a virtual work experience day with 230 students that took place on Thursday, 17 June.

Being You book jackets
Being You book jackets

We were really excited to work with Form the Future again, providing a second day of virtual work experience, this time for 230 Year 9 (aged 13 to 14) students at Nene Park Academy in Peterborough, having helped pilot a similar day for 200 Year 10 students in April, with Cambridge Learning for Schools and OCR.

The Press’s Books Retail Marketing team in Academic Publishing work on some of our most recognisable and accessible Trade titles, such as Fighting the First Wave: Why the Coronavirus was tackled so differently across the globe; The World of Bob Dylan; Female Husbands and The Stupidity of War. We thought that talking to the students about the work the Retail team does would be a brilliant introduction to the world of publishing, helping to demystify what we do and make our work more relatable.

Colleagues spoke to ten classrooms simultaneously, explaining who we are and what we do. At the start of the day, this included Jenny Mathias, Global Marketing and Operations Director, who spoke about Academic Publishing in general, then former apprentice Adam Cran, who is now Associate Content Manager in Academic, and current apprentice Eve Sadler, Customer Services Assistant. They spoke about their routes in, what it was like doing an apprenticeship while working, and their progression.

Senior Marketing Executives, Chloe Bradley and Amy Watson, spoke about working in Marketing and their different routes in. They explained the importance of book jackets, and the students’ first task was to come up with their own ideas for the cover of Being You: the body image book for boys, which is published next year and therefore a live project. Next, they asked students to think about how much time they spend on social media per day, which channels they use most and then gave students their second task of planning a social media campaign for one of three titles: The Body Image Book for Girls; There is No Planet B; and All the Sonnets of Shakespeare. The third task was to write a radio advert, considering which radio stations would be most appropriate for their chosen book, and ensuring they communicated the key messages in only 15 seconds. They also heard from Danny Bean, Senior Marketing Manager in New York, about working for an international organisation.

Amy Watson, Senior Marketing Executive, said: ‘We were so happy to be invited to work with Form the Future for this event. We loved speaking to the students, hearing their creative ideas and getting the chance to share our enthusiasm for marketing the Trade list. Working virtually on days like these enables us to reach even more students than we would do normally, and I know the whole team found this experience to be really fun and rewarding.’

At the end of the day, we were connected with each classroom, so that students could present their ideas. The team gave feedback about students’ work and we were all impressed by their enthusiasm, quick grasp of new concepts and creativity.

Chloe Bradley, Senior Marketing Executive, said: ‘The creativity and ideas from the students were incredible. They all went above and beyond expectations, thinking outside oft he box and delivering concepts that we perhaps wouldn’t have thought of ourselves. I’m excited to share the book jacket designs for Being You: The Body Image Book for Boys with the author, Charlotte Markey, and hopefully incorporating some of these concepts into our final design. I really hope the students enjoyed the day and might consider a career in marketing in the future!’

Vicki Gaffney, Careers Lead at Nene Park Academy, said: ‘I’m totally blown away with how the Press managed to create and deliver this day to 230 Year 9 students. The students seemed engaged and creativity was flowing across the school. It made me very proud to go in and out of the classes and see them presenting their works. All I can say is thank you to the Press, we love working with you and cannot wait for the next event.’

Mary Steel, from Form the Future, said: ‘What a wonderful experience working with Cambridge University Press to help deliver a hugely successful virtual work experience day again. Students got a great insight into the world of publishing and the chance to demonstrate some brilliant creative skills with their project work.’