The Spare Zoom Project, the online adaptation of The Spare Room Project supporting book trade interns and job applicants from outside London, has made 320 introductions between jobseekers and publishing trade professionals since it launched in mid-November.
The new scheme matches people already working in the industry with people across the UK looking to learn more about a potential career in publishing, connecting them so they can have an informal 30-minute virtual conversation via Zoom.
Those taking part in the project connected with a book industry professional for an informative online chat and, following the call, 90% of participants said the session was useful and had helped demystify the industry for them.
Hannah Chukwu, editor at Penguin Random House, previously participated in the Spare Room Project and for its adaptation during lockdown volunteered for the Spare Zoom Project. She said: "The Spare Room Project was such a blessing for me, as it allowed me to take up an internship in London which led to my first publishing job, so it was a joy to then be involved in its newest iteration—the Spare Zoom project! It was brilliant to meet Mehar, and I felt really grateful to be able to pass on some advice I would have found helpful before entering the industry."
Mehar, who spoke with Chukwu, called it "a great initiative", adding: "It was such a pleasure to meet and chat with Hannah and I came away with so much more insight into the industry than I previously had. Thanks to our conversation, I have a clearer picture of my options in terms of job searching and moving to London."
Established in 2016 with the support of the Publishers Association, the Spare Room Project aims to address the lack of regional diversity in the industry and diversify the historically London-centric talent pool. The online iteration of the project has continued to promote regional diversity, with almost 80% of participants living outside Greater London. The project is also committed to promoting other aspects of diversity, with 35% of people taking part identifying as working class, while almost 20% were Black, Asian or from a minority ethnic background.
Publishing professionals interested in taking part, regardless of role or seniority, can still sign up via the website.
The programme is sponsored by Penguin Random House UK but supports people working across the whole publishing industry.