Switching Careers from Teaching to Publishing
Written by Kelly Hides. Interview with Hannah Rhiannon.
Changing careers is a daunting prospect at the best of times, let alone amidst a pandemic and trying to enter an industry as notoriously difficult as publishing. In this issue we talk to Hannah, a hopeful who is currently making the switch from teaching to publishing.
You were a teacher for six years, what subject did you teach and at what level?
I have taught a range of years in primary education. I taught English, Maths, Art, Science, Reading, Computing and even French.
What interests you about the publishing industry?
I used to be an actress, and so I am really excited about getting back into the creative industry in a new format. Reading has had a huge influence on my life, as I am sure it has for everyone reading this. It gives me such a buzz to know I would be working with authors, editors and publishers to publish a novel that a child or an adult will read and that could be the novel that influences them, excites them or even just gives them the escape they need at that moment. I think it’s really exciting that I could be a part of that!
What department do you want to work in? What is it about that department/role that appeals to you?
I have been focused on the editorial department, but I am also really interested in the creative departments as well. I think going into this without too much experience has allowed me to open myself up to more opportunities as I am willing and wanting to learn from everyone. The editorial department has stood out to me because I feel like it would give me a great oversight into many different departments. I would like to work with literary agents as my ten-year goal (right now) is to work in the literary scouting world.
How is job hunting going? How are you finding the career change from teaching to publishing? Has the pandemic hindered you at all?
Job hunting has definitely been something where my actor’s tough skin has come in handy! I have applied for assistant roles, editorial assistant roles and some internships. I think being open to anything has helped me. I have also been working with a coach since the beginning of the year. The advice and assistance they have given me has helped me to search for roles in areas I might not have considered previously. I am not finding the career change itself too challenging, but I have noticed many people going for the same roles are so much younger which can be a little disheartening at times! The pandemic is actually helpful for me in the sense that I can be available for job interviews if and when they come up. I am currently in Chicago (having lived here the last two years), and until I move back to London in July, being able to do video interviews easily is an advantage for me.
What skills have you acquired through teaching, and how do you think they’d aid you in publishing?
I would say multitasking is the biggest skill I have acquired. Knowing that I am able to produce high standards of work amidst tight and ongoing deadlines is something that will be a great transferable skill. I also know how to work efficiently and collaboratively in a team, something that my acting background has helped with too.
What are you doing/have you done to gain publishing related experience?
I have started two courses with The Publishing Training Centre in proofreading and copy-editing as I felt these would give me a good knowledge of the terminology. I have also been reaching out to people on LinkedIn to ask for informal interviews.
What advice would you give other hopefuls who are making a career change to publishing?
I would suggest subscribing to as many newsletters as possible. It’s been so helpful to collect as much information and knowledge from others to help me with interview preparation, as well as getting a good insight into the industry. Also, if you are coming from a different industry, have faith in yourself. I struggled at the beginning with my confidence knowing this wasn’t what I trained in, but I have had two very successful careers already. I have taught myself to believe that although my background isn’t the traditional route, I have skills and abilities that I feel will be beneficial.
Whether you have always aspired to work in publishing, or found the calling through a different career, a passion for books, dedication and perseverance is key. A huge thank you to Hannah for taking the time to talk to us.