I moved to New York because I wanted to edit children’s books, but I had no idea where to begin, so I applied to RMMP. During my first meeting, my mentors stressed that while they wanted to help me, I needed to know what to ask for. If you’re planning to apply and worried about not having any specific requests, start by thinking about your goals and what you’re currently doing to achieve them. For instance, I wanted to be an editorial assistant, and while I was applying for positions, I wasn’t getting any interviews.
My mentors helped me realize that I needed internship experience. My senior mentor forwarded my resume to HR at Penguin Young Readers, and I was called in to interview for an internship at Puffin Books. While I had researched the imprint online, my senior mentor was able to tell me how the team at Puffin viewed the imprint’s mission. She also listed some of their recent projects. Her recommendation of me, along with the interview prep, gave me an edge, and I was offered the internship.
I had a wonderful time interning at Puffin (I highly recommend it as an introduction to children’s publishing) and was more prepared to apply for full-time positions. Although the official six-month mentorship period had ended, both my mentors were willing to continue helping me with my job search. They sent me links to positions that had just opened, and forwarded emails about openings that hadn’t been announced yet. If I was called in for an interview, they told me what qualities my interviewer was likely to be looking for in an assistant.
I also finally came up with a specific request. I had heard from many people that publishing was an apprenticeship business, so it’s very important to get to know people who will help you. I asked my mentors if they would be willing to connect me to editorial assistants, as I felt that I would be able to learn a lot from people who were currently in the position I wanted to be in. This has been really helpful, as my mentors have a vast network of people who are willing to talk to me and answer questions, and I’ve learnt how different publishing houses work.
Your mentorship experience will depend on what you ask for, so take the time to figure out how your mentors can help you most. And while your mentors are there to help you, they’re also doing you a huge favor. These are incredibly accomplished people with a lot on their plates, so don’t take their time and effort for granted.
I would never have gotten my start in publishing without RMMP, and I’m so grateful to have had such a wonderful opportunity. I look forward to the day I get to experience this program from the other side.