While studying at University, two of the most rewarding experiences I was involved in was the UKC Film Society magazine in a writing and editorial position, and as a Writer and then Features Editor for the student newspaper, Inquire. Being a part of these two publications opened me up to a whole range of new experiences and was a key point that I was able to talk about in job interviews. Balancing studying with producing two magazines, as well as proof reading, page setting and general team work was an invaluable experience and I had a great time while doing it. It was a lot of hard work but some things are worth working hard at.
The more you know about an industry, its key companies and current issues, the more competently you can apply.
I wasn’t a hundred percent sure what it was that I wanted to do when I finished university and not unusually, I was broke, so I took a job in a clothes store and spent my summer getting work experience and researching into the different areas I could go into with my degree which would allow me to use my writing and communication skills. The more I found out about marketing, writing, newspapers, magazines, and publishing the more I was able to narrow down what to apply for.
I had a fortnight’s experience with a local magazine where I was involved with every stage of production and given plenty to do interviewing, researching, writing and finding pictures. I really enjoyed this but jobs in journalism are hard to come by and I was aware I would need an NCTJ qualification to progress. I then spent a week on work experience with a newspaper and hated every minute, but this experience was still beneficial because it made me sure I didn’t want to be a journalist and stopped me from investing in further study in journalism. Whilst I had loved writing and working for student papers and magazines, what I really love most is the organisation and production of the publications so I did a lot of research into publishing companies and academic journals and books.
I applied for roughly a hundred jobs before I found what I settled into. Applying for marketing and PR jobs and having interviews made me realise I didn’t want to work in this area but the more publishing jobs I applied for, the more enthusiastic I became.
Working from the bottom upwards is a natural progression and doing it with a smile on your face can help you take your next steps on the career ladder.
My first job in publishing was a temporary one and searching for temporary jobs can be a good way to build up your experience and to learn more about an industry from the inside. I signed up to a few generic job sites such as Reed because I found it helpful to set up saved job searches and have my CV loaded to the site. Once I was sure publishing was the area I ideally wanted to go into, I looked for the companies I wanted to work for and had their vacancy pages saved as tabs on my explorer toolbar. I signed on with a few recruitment agencies who specialise in publishing such as Inspired Selection and Greenhill as they will call you to find out what you are looking for, send you jobs they think you are suitable for and prepare you for any interviews they set up.
My first position came as a result of interviewing for a permanent position as a journals editorial assistant. I didn’t get this job but I impressed the people who interviewed me enough for them to pass on my CV to someone else in the company looking for temporary help preparing books for digital publication. When my temporary contract ended I had a couple of interviews for editorial positions with journals and books publishing companies and ended up staying with the same company working across journals and books production. I am now constantly learning about the books production and publishing proces and loving the work.
Entering into a professional industry can be hard to get into at graduate levels and I can’t stress the importance of work experience or temporary jobs to build up your experience in a professional environment and to help you decide what you want to do as I found it so helpful. Working in a clothes store for the summer developed my customer service skills and gave me experience to put on my CV. Journalism and Marketing are not for me but for some people will be perfectly suited, it’s worth doing a lot of research and work experience to help you figure out exactly what you want to do, and it will make your job search and applications easier and better.
Olivia graduated from the University of Kent in the summer of 2012 with First Class Honours in English and American Literature with Comparative Literary Study. She really enjoyed her time studying in Canterbury, and a year on from graduating, she has had two work experience placements, three jobs and is now happily settled in a career in academic publishing.