I was emailing with a former intern recently and she was asking for some advice on finding a job in publishing. It’s a conversation we have almost every year with our interns, at least with the ones who are smart and ambitious.
The one tip I gave her about the search for a publishing job is that the trick is knowing what genre the editor/agent specializes in. For example, if you’re interviewing for a job with a romance editor that editor/agent is going to want an assistant who has a love for romance, or at least reads it. The applicant who says the last books she read were for school or only YA is probably not the right person for that job.
On my first job interview, 400 years ago, I was about 9 months out of college and had spent my summer reading everything I could buy off the drugstore rack. It was the summer of The Bridges of Madison County, John Grisham, and Michael Crichton and I was devouring them all. When I interviewed for my job, the editor seemed noticeably impressed when I told her what I had been reading (I was applying at Berkley after all) and we had a long discussion about Bridges of Madison County. I got the job.
So for anyone looking to find a job in publishing read what you read and apply for every job you can, but remember that when talking with the editor knowing your stuff as it relates to her stuff will take you far.