Up until now, being a student with an admittedly large student loan debt, but no credit cards, mortgage or stocks and shares, the so-called ‘credit crunch’ has hardly affected me personally – indeed, part of me has been hopeful that the drop in house prices might mean I can actually afford to buy something in a few years time – provided I have a job with a salary that would allow me to get a mortgage.

Although I know other students who have recently graduated or, like me, are graduating in 2009, who were planning on careers in the financial sector and who are now having to think again, I also know people who have done exceptionally well on the hedge fund traineeships they were accepted onto, and the university Careers Service diary is still full of recruitment events for law firms, management consultancies and big financial companies such as Goldman Sachs and Pricewaterhouse Coopers.

Therefore I wasn’t unduly worried about my prospects; I know what industry I want to work for, and by all accounts publishing hasn’t been doing too badly recently.  Some publishers almost seem more worried about the effect the removal of Friday Night with Jonathon Ross will have on  sales, this being one of the main forums for plugging the Christmas blockbuster books, than on the effects of the credit crunch.  I have heard it said that more people are returning to books as a cheaper form of entertainment.

Reading here that HarperCollins are freezing recruitment until the start of 2009 at the earliest wasn’t the best of news for me, though I guess it is inevitable that the credit crunch caught up with publishing eventually.  I don’t pretend to know much about the economic ins and outs of it, but Neill Denny provides quite a good analysis here.  He seems to imply that it is the middle level earners that will lose out the most, as publishers turn to young interns willing to work for ‘pocket money’ in order to cut financial corners, but obviously this is not an ideal situation.  There would be a loss in skills, and no-one wants to work for a pittance long term – people like me are willing to do unpaid work experience because of the expectation that when we’ve done our time, there will be a full-time job at the end of it.  There do seem to be a few entry level assistants jobs advertised in the Bookseller every week, but there is a lot of competition for them and it is hard for me to judge whether there are fewer jobs being advertised than in previous years.

So I’m guessing that there won’t be a Graduate Scheme for me to apply to at Harper Collins this year; nor are Penguin running one.  I’ve applied for Macmillan’s and it would be fantastic to get it, but the MA Publishing is still looking like a very good option, despite the cost.  By the time I get an MA, perhaps the publishing recruitment market will have settled down a bit, and publishers will be keen to employ young, qualified and passionate people willing to work for a low-ish starting salary once again!