Hopefuls Interview: Interview with a Mature Hopeful
The publishing industry is often considered hard to break into; hopefuls can feel like they require extra qualifications and industry experience, and must apply straight out of university to make it. However, not all of these stereotypes are true for all publishing roles! We spoke to Marie Hawkins to discuss her experience with such supposed ideals as a more mature publishing hopeful.
Before considering publishing as a career option this year, Marie has worked in the arts and heritage sector for over six years and graduated with an MA in Art History and Museum Curating four years ago. As her contract with a small local museum started to come to an end, Marie decided to fulfil her dream of publishing her own book by rewriting a book she had written at just eight years old. This has inspired Marie to contemplate a career in the publishing industry. Since this decision, Marie has considered roles in the Editorial department and as a Picture Researcher. As a Picture Researcher, Marie feels she could use her experience in researching pictures and photographs for museum and art gallery collections in combination with her strong interest in photography. Marie also opened up about her dream role, as she admits she would love to bring together her interest in editorial and research with her passion for the arts, like many publishers and hopefuls!
For such roles, Marie feels that her experience as a mature publishing applicant will hopefully position her at a positive advantage, as she has worked in areas from collections management to visitor services, providing her with important transferable skills. Marie also says that "a lot of tasks I completed during my previous employment required a great eye for detail and this is often a common requirement for most publishing roles," and shows that any experience mature hopefuls have can be beneficial!
Since starting her job hunt within publishing, Marie has enrolled onto two publishing courses organised by Bluebird Works Ltd. She feels that this experience "provided a detailed introduction into the publishing world and the different areas within," and she is also actively looking for more publishing opportunities that will be beneficial for her first publishing role. To gain wider experience, Marie has undertaken a role remotely volunteering for the Museum of East Anglian Life and hopes that this will provide her with transferable skills for the publishing industry through cataloguing, editing and proofreading important records for their collection. Such experience will hopefully assist Marie in her application; she feels that "the fact that publishers seem to prefer experience over a degree does seem to work in the favour of a mature hopeful," as the industry recruitment requirements become more accessible to mature applicants, due to the preference for experience over a degree.
We also asked Marie for any advice that she would give to someone approaching the industry at a later stage. From her very recent experience, Marie recommends that other hopefuls "attend as many upskilling courses as possible," including the Bluebird Works Ltd courses. She also advises "immersing yourself in all things publishing," through following as many industry professionals and publishing houses as possible to build connections, as well as joining the ‘Publishing Hopefuls’ and ‘The Aspiring Publishers Over 25’ groups on Facebook for supportive and like-minded people!
Marie has been following her own advice for the past two months and has since felt that she has learnt a lot about the industry and admits honestly that "It is definitely competitive out there, so even though [she] might be searching for that elusive first publishing job for a while, [she has] faith that someday the right role will come along and it will be the start of a long and exciting career" – a feeling that many others can relate to right now!