First Alumnus Talk at Oxford Brookes with Emma Bourne

9/11/2014 09:53:00 am

If you follow me on Twitter, you know I attended my first university event at Oxford Brookes in Monday evening. The talk was given by an alumnus from the publishing program, Emma Bourne who is the Managing Director of Macmillan Education. It was a really fantastic talk about Ms. Bourne's journey through the industry from her interesting start selling books to international schools, an opportunity that allowed her to travel all over the world, to her current role.

While her travel stories were both fun and interesting, the biggest lesson I took away from her fantastic journey through the industry was that while the jobs and skills you develop at them are important, what matters most are the people. People make up the industry and the industry is a small, small world. People Ms. Bourne has worked with years ago are her current colleagues and the room was filled with people she had previously crossed paths with along the way. Essentially, whether you get along or not, value and get to know the people you meet along the way in your publishing career because everything seems to come back around.

As someone just starting out, this is valuable advice. I'm literally flashing a light into a dark tunnel and hoping to land on something (preferably paid because I'm flat broke) and the people I cross are more important than any job listing. While I was in undergrad, networking was never really pushed. Perhaps that was because us English majors in the tiny town of Farmville were too busy shoving our noses deep into musty smelling books and were naturally rather timid but it just never seemed all that important. Sure, we went to conferences (AWP 2010--I'm in photo #10) and attended nearly every literary event on campus (if not just for the free food) but, at least in my experience, it didn't lead to a whole lot of lasting connections. My experiences at Longwood University are cherished memories (such as Sherman Alexie knowing me from Twitter at his reading!! OMG!!) but nothing that really pushed me in any direction.

I'm hoping this year will change it and I know that schooling isn't everything and I'm taking post grad as not an opportunity to learn as much as an opportunity to meet people.

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