by Jenny Krueger, Publishing Director for School and Library
Most of us working at Lerner Publishing Group have powerful memories of our school and public libraries. As an educational publisher with a long history of supporting the mission of libraries big and small, we live and breathe the library world.
That got us thinking—how many library patrons (of any age) are interested in working in the book publishing industry? Perhaps you have patrons who would love the idea of working in publishing but don’t know where to start. It is a notoriously hard industry to break into (we have those stories too, for another day!). So how best to encourage budding publishing professionals who might not otherwise have access to the industry? Two words—informational interviews.
Many of us (myself included) used informational interviews to build contacts and to help get access to professionals in publishing. Informational interviews are designed to let prospective employees get to know the roles and the ins-and-outs of the company before that perfect position opens up. These informal meetings are a great way to meet people who will potentially be on the other side of an interview when that time comes.
Why are informational interviews such an effective way to get one’s name (and face) in front of those who could be hiring down the road?
- They are informal, so they don’t involve the typical nerves of a high-stakes interview.
- The interviewee can ask (almost) anything—people love to talk about their roles, their challenges, etc. The nature of an informational interview allows for a more wide-ranging discussion than an actual interview.
- Setting up an informational interview shows prospective employers that a person is serious about wanting to work in publishing.
- Informational interviews help both participants get a feel for whether there’s a cultural fit between the interviewee and the company.
If you have patrons who are particularly interested in the business and art of making books, they might not know where to start. They might not have the background and experience often needed to break into the industry. Even if that’s the case, an informational interview is a great first step. A face-to-face connection can help open the door into this wonderful business and art we call publishing.
Offer these tips to students and patrons who are preparing for an informational interview:
- To get the most out of the meeting, come with prepared questions, but aim for a conversation more than an interrogation.
- Ask your contact if they are the best person to meet with to learn more about the company and the industry–they might bring in others with a valuable perspective.
- Ask if your contact knows of others in the industry you could also speak to. It’s a big industry, but also close-knit.
- Don’t forget to send a brief thank-you email to your contact after the meeting.
If you or someone you know would be interested in doing an informational interview at Lerner Publishing Group in particular, we’d love to hear from you! Just email Joyce Hutchinson at Jhutchinson@lernerbooks.com.