Around this time last year, I found myself on the job market for the first time. I had recently completed a PhD in Classics at the University of Edinburgh and I had graduated with a degree which, although it had equipped me with the research skills necessary for a career in academia, held little sway in the experience-driven world of publishing, which I was then seeking an entry into. I had worked part-time throughout my studies, but it wasn’t enough to convince an employer to take a chance on me. For every position I applied to, and there were countless, there were plenty of other candidates with many more years’ worth of experience in the industry. I found myself at a frustrating impasse. In order to catch the eye of a prospective interviewer, I needed experience; to get experience, I first needed a job.
In order to increase my employability, I interned with Freight Books and Edinburgh University Press and, from there, began to take on paid work in proofreading. Nevertheless, I needed an opportunity to widen my skillset and to prove that I had the abilities to compete with more experienced candidates for entry-level posts.
It was at this point that I came across an advert for the role of Editorial and Production Assistant with Orson & Co on the ScotGrad website. An ambitious start-up digital publishing company, Orson & Co was founded by an artist and an author who believe in creating electronic books as capable of inspiring their readers as printed books. They were seeking candidates to produce, edit, and upload Orsons (the company’s name for their selection of digital books) which ranged from best-selling fiction through to non-fiction.
It was one of the most popular graduate placements on the website, and I was drawn to it not only for the possibility of gaining experience in the publishing industry, but because it provided the opportunity to work with an exciting and highly creative company. I was also keen to find a challenging role that would make use of those skills I had developed in my studies as well as providing further professional training.
Crucially, during the past year, I have had the opportunity to widen my skillset by getting hands-on experience of digital media in a busy office environment. Although I quickly learned that working for a start-up company means that job responsibilities can change swiftly depending on what is needed at any given moment in time, I primarily worked on the production of Orsons including Anthony Trollope’s Doctor Thorne, F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby, and Gentlemen Prefer Blondes by Anita Loos. This has involved extensive on-the-job training in media rights research, as well as the opportunity to take part in a copyright training course. Editorial and administrative tasks have included proofreading, essay writing, book-keeping, and managing social media channels. I have had the opportunity to expand my knowledge of Photoshop as well as learn new skills such as audio and video manipulation. Alongside liaising with various consultants, I have also had the opportunity to test new technologies and to contribute to the way in which the Orson software is developed. Being involved in this process, and developing these skills, has been a hugely rewarding experience.
As I approach the end of my 12 month placement, I find myself reflecting on the ways in which it has helped me to develop in my career over the last year. I am more confident in my abilities, and both Orson & Co and ScotGrad have helped me to develop skills that ensure that I can more effectively meet the responsibilities of my role. I have also had abundant opportunity to widen my professional network, to take on further responsibilities, to present my work to colleagues, and to travel to meetings. It is important to feel part of a team, and the fact that everyone works closely together has been apparent from my very first days.
I couldn’t recommend a ScotGrad placement enough: they truly make a big difference to what can often be a difficult transition from graduate to employee, as well as providing a way for small businesses to develop strong teams to help them in their ultimate goals. Personally and professionally, I have greatly benefitted from the ongoing support of all the ScotGrad team who have remained both pro-active and encouraging throughout. I am now looking forward to what my future at Orson & Co holds.
Written by Lauren Murray, Editorial and Production Assistant at Orson & Co