Q&A: Work Experience at Edinburgh University Press

By Beth Cowen

What brought you to EUP, and why?
I am a PhD student at the University of Glasgow, as part of the Scottish Graduate School for Humanities (SGSAH), funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC). During the PhD, AHRC allows you to pause your studies and undertake a work placement to gain some valuable experience outside of academia. I have been interested in publishing for some time now, as I am a Trustee for a not-for-profit publisher Arkbound so furthering this interest was a natural step for me. But considering my background and interest in academia, I wanted to widen my industry knowledge into academic publishing and where better than Edinburgh University Press! I read their books and journals regularly for my PhD research and it is an established and respected publisher. I was very lucky that Dr Ersev Ersoy responded so warmly to my unsolicited email, asking her if she would consider an intern in the Scottish Studies department and that was how it all started!

What work did you undertake during your placement?All of the tasks and projects were very interesting and informative, and very varied which was great because it really gave a sense of all the different components of working at EUP. Within the Scottish History department, I spent a lot of time reviewing book proposals, offering my opinion (scary at first!) and making suggestions for development. I also drafted back cover copy for some books that were due to go up for review by the committee which I found really fun! At the same time, I also had larger ongoing projects, one of which was mapping Scottish Studies around the world. This helped locate potential future authors and identified the key areas of interest regarding Scottish Studies outside of the UK – this was also very interesting for my own PhD project as a historian of early modern Scotland. Other larger research projects included competition research and ‘scoping’ the current state of research along the theme of ‘Scotland and Empire’ to locate pertinent topics for future publishing.

I was also tasked with some administrative and organisational tasks in the Scottish Literature department and I also worked with Marketing to help put together a Scottish Studies Scottish Diaspora Virtual Issue which I particularly enjoyed. Additionally, I had meetings with production and with assistant editors to find out about their roles (thanks due to all those involved!) within EUP and ask any questions that I had which was a great opportunity.

What was the best bit about working with EUP?
I have to say the best part about my placement was working with Dr Ersev Ersoy. She made the whole experience not only enjoyable but incredibly productive. All of the projects were planned by her before I even started, she kept me busy with a varied collection of work and organised meetings with other departments so that I could get a rounded view of EUP and its processes. This was all done with such patience and kindness too, I never felt shy about asking questions that I thought might be silly and she was happy to talk about her own experiences and career in publishing. Thank you!

What was it like undertaking a work placement during COVID?
COVID-19 has obviously posed a lot of challenges for workplaces generally and I wasn’t sure how a work placement that was (mostly) remote would work. However, it was very effective. I didn’t have to commute everyday to Edinburgh which might have grown old quickly, and I had lots of virtual meetings and email exchanges so that I felt welcomed and involved. I was given access to shared files so that I could undertake all my projects and see the layout of things. I was also doing the internship part-time, so working from home made it extra flexible, which was helpful for the other part-time commitments I had. Also, I was lucky enough to be able to visit the EUP offices on one occasion which was very interesting, it was lovely to meet some people face-to-face and gave a sense of what hybrid working could be like.

Anything else you want to add?
I would just like to say a big thank you. It was an experience I will continually draw on in the future, whether I have a career in publishing or not, as it was undoubtedly valuable – as well as a fun!

Teri Williams
Teri Williams
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