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Careers Centre

Case Study: Katie Henderson

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Personal details
Degree:Psychology MA (Hons) Profile picture
School(s): School of Psychology and Neuroscience
Year of Graduation:Jun-2011
LinkedIn:
National of: United Kingdom
Employment details
Organisation: Cambridge University Press
Job title: Assistant Editor
Occupational Sector: Publishing
What has been your route to getting your current position?
During my time at St Andrews I didn’t really know what I wanted to do after I graduated, but I knew that I enjoyed writing and editing. I got work experience writing for online magazines during the summer, and wrote/acted as Deputy Science Editor for The Tribe during term time. After I graduated I took a freelance Production role at a small law publisher in West Yorkshire, which involved putting journal content together and making sure that each issue was published on time. After my freelance contract ended, I applied for a maternity cover position at Cambridge University Press as an Assistant Editor (working in the STM Journals department), and after a year, became a permanent member of staff.
What does your job involve ?
Despite having ‘Editor’ in my job title, I don’t actually do much editing! I currently assist Editors with the day-to-day management and editorial development of a list of medical and conservation journals, and also have a small list of my own titles that I look after. Working in Editorial means that we are the main points of contact for Editorial Boards and external societies for whom we publish journals on their behalf, and we deal with any issues or queries that arise. I write Editorial Board reports and attend meetings with journal Editorial Boards, and coordinate with other internal departments to implement development plans. Development plans might include getting a journal an Impact Factor (a metric used to determine the ‘quality’ of a journal based on citation), ensuring that the Editorial Board is adequately supported during the peer-review process, or amending the website to help advertise the journal. There’s also a financial aspect too. For each journal we publish we have to check year-end accounts, produce financial forecasts for the following year, and ensure that all payments are made on time.
What are the best bits of your job ?
I enjoy the problem solving aspect – it’s really satisfying to be able to find a solution to a problem (or come up with an alternative) that you can present to a journal’s Editor-in-Chief. I also enjoy meeting the Editorial Boards for the Journals I work on – even though I don’t have a background in medicine or conservation, it’s interesting to hear what people are working on in their day-to-day careers, and I enjoy building on the Publisher-Editor relationship. Also, I like the fact that in journals publishing, no two days are alike! There are always new problems to solve and new things to learn. Likewise, each journal I work on is different, and has its own strengths and challenges.
Why were you successful?
See above.
What skills/ knowledge from your degree have you found particularly helpful in this role?
I would say project management skills, interacting/working with others, and knowledge of statistics!
What advice would you give to students wishing to follow the same path?
It’s also a very competitive industry to get into, and if you’re interested in looking after STM journals, a science degree is often required. There are also many different roles available within publishing that you might not have thought about – for example sales, marketing, membership services, content services, web team, open access team. Get work experience if you can – it doesn’t necessarily have to be in publishing. Writing, editing, or project management will stand you in good stead. It’s good to have financial experience too. In terms of location, you’re somewhat limited as to where you can go in the UK – Oxford, Cambridge and London are the main publisher hubs, but it’s also worth trying the smaller publishers, who are dotted around the UK. Many publishers also have branches abroad. I would advise getting to know the Journals world, and learning about the key issues surrounding publishing in general – for example Open Access, Impact Factors, and knowledge of the publishing landscape. A great blog to follow is The Scholarly Kitchen (http://scholarlykitchen.sspnet.org/). Finally, subscribe to the St Andrews vacancy email alerts – that’s how I managed to secure my first job!