“Sorting post in the mailroom of a large UK publishing house wasn’t what I went to university for. Admittedly the job was in the right field – publishing – the subject of my post-graduate diploma. The difficulty lay in convincing my new colleagues to see my potential, and not to focus on my hearing issues at the expense of my ability.
From my perspective, this temporary job was a stepping stone to a graduate job and it was my responsibility to convey that point to the editors collecting their post at the mailroom.
Building Conversations With The Editors
Chatting about my recent past as a post-graduate student in publishing would shatter preconceptions the staff had about my abilities. The trick was to do this conversationally. So, that’s how it was done. Any time someone asked how I was, or how my weekend went, my former classmates were mentioned in the context of socialising or activities.
Slowly, the editors began to piece together the knowledge they received in our chats. A senior commissioning editor stopped by, to ask about the publishing course and the subject of my primary degree. A part-time editorial assistant was needed for a social-history journal, and she invited me to submit a CV for review. That was the start of the door creaking open.
Breaking Into Publishing
Getting the mailroom job was tricky. Publishing is very competitive, and as a non-UK graduate, I had fewer contacts than my classmates. Disinterest from recruitment agencies was also seriously off-putting. By confronting that issue head-on (see video) however, the agency with the mailroom job was found, and four months later, a permanent job resulted.
After teen part-time work, and paid office work in the students’ union at college, I never questioned my ability to get a graduate job. People did try to “pigeon-hole” me, but thanks to that past work experience, my ability to challenge their perceptions had developed. ”