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12 July 2021

Virtual work experience gave insights to the world of publishing to 516 students

Work experience plays a valuable role in providing insights on how industries work and helps people make more informed decisions on which careers to pursue. The Pandemic has made it even more challenging for young people to gain access to good quality work experience. So our colleagues were delighted to host three virtual work experience days at Nene Park Academy in Peterborough between April and July 2021. In collaboration with Form the Future, 516 students (aged 13 – 17) in Years 9, 10 and 12 had the opportunity to learn about the world of publishing. Students designed their own book cover images, created social media campaigns and wrote radio adverts for their chosen book. At the end of the day, students presented their ideas to the team.

The third virtual work experience day

Heidi Mulvey, Head of Community Engagement at Cambridge University Press and Cambridge Assessment, shares more about the third virtual work experience day.

We were thrilled to work with Form the Future again on Wednesday, 7 July, this time for 86 Year 12 students (aged 16 – 17) at Nene Park Academy in Peterborough, having run two similar days for 430 students in April and June.

We have a well-established pattern for these now, where students hear about the wider context first, who we are and what we do. The introduction included Jenny Mathias, Global Marketing and Operations Director, speaking about Academic Publishing in general; then former apprentices, Tamsin Markina-Wastell, Project Manager and George Ball, Compliance Associate, spoke about their routes in and their progression since.

Deborah van Wyk and Clare Dennison from the Content Management team kicked off the main work experience sessions. Deborah explained the importance of book jackets as a marketing tool, 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 and The Picky Easter’s Recovery Book, both of which are live projects, to be published next year. Clare spoke about working with authors, maintaining healthy working relations. Students were then given the task of role playing a conversation with an author about deadlines, explaining why permissions were needed for images and why any delays might affect the publication date.

Deborah said: ‘I volunteered for the Virtual Work Experience day because it occurred to me how much something like this would have meant to me when I was in school, and how it would have opened up a whole new and unknown world to me. So I felt this was an opportunity to encourage students to believe in and pursue their dreams. I was VERY nervous about doing it, though, and I hadn’t done anything like this before, so I won’t say I didn’t have any ‘what am I doing?!’ moments in advance of the event. On the day, although I was nervous, all went as hoped and I really enjoyed it. It was so great to see how the students had engaged with the tasks we had set and produced some beautiful work as a result – that made it all worth it!’

Haddy Ndure and Natalie Jones from the Library Marketing team spoke about marketing as a way of sharing information about our product, driving future sales and building reputation. They used the 500 Elements milestone as the basis of the task, to come up with a promotional plan and social media. Haddy also talked about the other interests we maintain alongside our professional roles, in her case running a series of YouTube interviews, Stories from the Continent. At the end of the day, we were connected with each classroom, so that students could present their ideas and the team provided feedback.

Vicki Gaffney, Nene Park Academy Careers Lead, said: ‘Once again CUP pulled it out of the bag. It has been an absolute pleasure working with them this term. This was the third event we have worked together on and the effort that is put in to prepare such a quality day is astounding. I look forward to working with them in the next academic year’

What’s next?

Over the course of these virtual work experience days, our colleagues have been thoroughly impressed by students’ creativity and how quickly they have grasped new concepts. The author of Being You, Charlotte Markey, shared the same sentiment and has thanked students via a video recording.

We plan to continue sessions like these to reach more students and schools and to inspire young people not only about Publishing, but also the many roles in Publishing which you can also find in other industries, such as marketing, design and communications.

Similarly, 11 OCR colleagues will take part in Meet the Professional on 19 July and a Careers Carousel on 20 July for Barr’s Hill School in Coventry. This is the start of a new relationship inspired by the Coventry City of Culture, which we hope will continue long into the future.

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