The Skills Show Birmingham – My Meet with My Future Career

I was sat in a lecture as part of a series dedicated to my extended essay. Some of these lectures have been useful, and others, like this particular insightful one on a ‘poster competition’, have not. So, I did what any student is likely to do – I checked my Twitter.

Whilst scrolling I saw a tweet from JobsInBooks (the lovely Maria Vassilopoulos) saying she was attending The Skills Show at Birmingham’s NEC along with The Publishing Association to talk about #workinpublishing. And I thought to myself, hang on a minute… I want to work in publishing. 

As I was, in fact, in Birmingham at the time, mere miles from the NEC, I thought it was about time I took my career into my own hands and got myself down there. I registered to The Skills Show as I walked and after an hour long journey (and watching two trains for Birmingham International pull away from the platform as I arrived), I finally made it to the NEC.

The man behind the registration desk was incredibly helpful when he informed me that I had a film of sweat on my forehead and laughed; but I didn’t have time for him. This was it, I was actually going to be engaging in networking outside of a work placement.

I turned up at the Publishing stand and got talking to Emily Cook from IPG who opened my eyes to all the possibilities IPG could offer me, all the volunteering I could get involved with and even more creative ways to show my interest and enthusiasm for books, including an Instagram dedicated to books, instead of my weekly ‘Throwback Thursdays’ of the cutest pictures I can find of my brother and I.

Then I introduced myself to Maria (whose Twitter is OnceUponTheBook) and I was thrilled that she remembered me from our Twitter/email exchange a few weeks ago. I have to imagine this is somewhat what meeting a celebrity feels like – she’s certainly Twitter famous to me. It was so amazing to sit down and have an in-depth chat (which I think was in part due to my late arrival, meaning the stall wasn’t as busy as it could’ve been), and to hear exactly how Maria got to be ‘@JobsInBooks’. She definitely helped calm my fears about not getting exactly where I want to be straight away and that not all routes into publishing are traditional.

I also enjoyed speaking with Stephanie Cox who is the Events Organiser/Communications Officer for SYP North. What was great about meeting Stephanie was that she showed me that not all publishing events happen in London and in the event that I do have to move home after uni, there will still be opportunities to get involved up north.

I came away from the event feeling extremely satisfied and glad that I had raced over from the University of Birmingham campus to the NEC to be there. I have a handful of business cards (people who can expect emails soon!), a bunch of leaflets with useful information, and a more in-depth knowledge of where I could be and what I can do to get there.

Now all that’s left is considering that all important ‘keep in touch’. It’s all very well and good to say so, and to send a follow-up email, but what I find the most difficult is maintaining that relationship beyond the first ‘It was great to meet you/work with you’ email. Is it satisfactory to say ‘I read this book and thought of you’ or ‘I’m doing X,Y,Z at the moment and wondered what you were up to?’

It’s certainly something to think about and something that I need to perfect. I do believe that Twitter and LinkedIn are our best tools for keeping an active presence with people because they give us the change to ‘Like’ or ‘Retweet’ or even reply to things that our associates are doing in a more informal manner than an email. It’s like a little reminder, with a Like or a reply, you’re basically saying ‘Hello, remember me??’

I definitely want to improve my ‘keeping in touch’ skills, because as we all know networking is absolutely key to a career in this industry. I’m so pleased that I had my first real interaction with networking and I hope I can keep this up in the future! Looking forward to hopefully doing some great volunteering and getting as involved as possible with all the opportunities publishing can offer me, with or without a job offer!

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