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Visiting speaker: Lucie Johnston

October 20th, 2012 | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on Visiting speaker: Lucie Johnston
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On Thursday, September 27, we had our first guest speaker. Lucie Johnston is a member of the staff in the Career Development office. She specializes in getting jobs in the arts and humanities, and gave us insight into what we might do to prepare for getting jobs. She presented a powerpoint called “Introduction to Jobs, Networking, and Interns,” which included all kinds of information from what kinds of jobs are out there, to how much job experience we need to pique a publisher’s interest. She was very enthusiastic and answered any questions we had to the best of her abilities.
Lucie jumped right into her presentation by telling us which jobs are out there. She gave us a list ranging from editing to marketing to design, emphasizing that publishing is a diverse and cut-throat business, but that there are a lot of options out there. She suggested to start thinking about jobs, but not to jump to any conclusions just yet as we are only in the first weeks of the publishing course. This resonated with me because as soon as we started the design aspect, I leaned heavily towards that, but I also have skills in editing, so having a few options is a good idea. In regards to which job we would ultimately like to do, she told us not to be disheartened if we have to start off as a temp or a secretary because whatever skills we have will shine through and promotions are fairly easy.
The next section of Lucy’s presentation was in regards to which jobs would actually suit us. She gave us an anecdote about somebody who came to her and said they really wanted to be a teacher. They did some teaching experience and came back shortly after deciding they didn’t like children. She said to make sure that you emphasize your strong points and your skills. For example, someone who has experience in editing maybe should go for an editing job. One thing she did say is that you have to love your job, or it is going to be a very long struggle to get up every day. One of my biggest fears is that I will end up in a job that I absolutely despise. I think there are a lot of people my age who feel the same way. There are so many people, me included, with thousands in debt, and to have to take a job because we need to pay off the debt rather than because we love it is going to be a difficult thing to do.
Lucy handed out a piece of paper with circles on it and said it was a fairly elementary exercise that was used to place your strengths and skills in categories and figure out where you got them from. However, she did give us a useful formula to follow which is the STAR formula. STAR stands for scene, task, action, and result. Basically, this is the formula you use when you go to interviews. Each part plays an important role in the interview process, but for example, the results part would mean having facts and figures about the company with which you are interviewing. With regards to interviews, she said to bring examples of your work with you to show at the end. For instance, depending on what type of job you are going for, you would be best to wait until the end and present your work to the potential employer then. This will be really impressive to them especially if they had not asked for it beforehand. This was a good activity to try and discover what your skills are.
As the presentation went on, she talked a bit about work experience. She said if we want publishers to even look at our CV’s, we need at least two weeks of work experience. She also said that we should be prepared to travel for our internships. This is due to the fact that some places close by may not be offering intern positions or that your interests may take you elsewhere. For example, you may like a more unique publishing house, so you may want to go to Two Ravens Press which is on the Isle of Lewis.
As far as getting a job, Lucy stressed the fact that we need to network. She asked us, rather comically, if we had friends. Everyone laughed at this, but she was trying to get the point across that if we have friends, we have already networked. She also mentioned things like LinkedIn and Twitter are important because they make you stand out and keep you in the know. However, be careful with things like Facebook. The internet has an unlimited memory.
This whole presentation was very helpful. At the end she let us ask questions, and as an American, my first question was whether or not I would be able to get a job in the UK. This is where the heartbreak and disappointment comes in. She told us that if we were up against someone from the UK with the same credentials that they would get the job simply because they are British and there is less paperwork to have them as part of the company. Even big companies do not want to deal with all the red tape surrounding someone who is non-EU citizen. Lucie did suggest maybe going home and finding a big company that is willing to have us travel, or a company who wants to spread to the UK. Despite this disappointing news, we enjoyed her talk, and she gave us a wealth of information.

Elise Guay