Here are some questions to ask yourself: Do you know what area of publishing you want to work in? And are you moving to NY, Boston, . . . ? Editorial assistant spots, usually working for one or two senior-level editors, are always sought after, but there are other fun areas to look into. Publicity, marketing, and subsidiary rights (selling rights to a book to film companies, foreign publishers, etc.) are all very interesting and a great way to get your foot in the door. A contracts department may sound boring, but if you've spent 6 months in contracts then you are quite valuable to an editor as an editorial assistant when a position opens up. A literary agency is another good way to get your start, as you’ll learn about the book market and contracts along with some editing skills.
Signing up for the Publishers Lunch free newsletter, and reading the Publishers Weekly online site, will also keep you up to date on the contemporary publishing scene. So will subscribing to the NY Times Book Review. Publishers will be impressed if you have a pretty good idea what's on the various best-seller lists. They'll also want to know what you've read lately, so try to read a few fiction & nonfiction best-sellers before you interview.
You want to wait till fairly close to graduation to search for a full-time job, since if they're advertising now they probably want to interview in the next couple of weeks and hire within a month or so. There are 3 main job listing web sites to look at: Publishers Marketplace: www.publishersmarketplace.com/jobs
HarperCollins includes adult and children’s imprints and has an internship for college juniors and seniors. Their website has an excellent breakdown of the responsibilities of each department in the company: http://www.harpercollinscareers.com/careers
Penguin Random House is a merger between the former Penguin imprints (includes Dutton, Viking, New American Library, Penguin, and 7 children’s books imprints) and the former Random House imprints (Random House, Knopf, and several excellent children’s imprints); they have an internship program that runs spring, summer, or fall as well as regular jobs. http://www.penguin.com/aboutus/employment/jobopportunities/
The Purple Crayon (Writing, Illustrating, and Publishing Children’s Books) Good introduction to the field: http://www.underdown.org The Children’s Book Council Lists the members of this children’s books special interest/lobby group: http://www.cbcbooks.org Some Publishing Courses for College Graduates
These are three extremely well regarded courses that provide a crash introduction to all aspects of publishing and provide invaluable contacts for gaining an entry-level position. Be aware that tuition alone will cost you thousands of dollars, and additional fees for room and board may also apply.