Name: Joe Kreuser
College & Major: Carleton College, BA in English (Carleton doesn't do minors); Oxford Brookes University, MA in Publishing.
Current Location: New York, NY
Current Form of Employment: I am currently an Associate Marketing Manager at Taylor & Francis, an academic publishing house.
Where do you work and what is your current position?
I am an Associate Marketing Manager at Routledge (which is part of Taylor & Francis). I'm responsible for promoting textbooks across a number of different subject lists in the social sciences and built environment. This involves working to market the books externally, commenting on book proposals that are in various stages of development, and presenting relevant titles to members of our sales teams in the US and UK. T&F is an international company, and have their main offices just outside of Oxford in the UK. So I work with members of our team on both sides of the Atlantic, and promote our books worldwide. For the most part my duties are handled digitally, either sending or responding to emails, or creating online catalogs, but I do travel to attend relevant conferences 2-3 times a year.
Previous to this role I worked at the main T&F offices in the UK as a Marketing Assistant for two years. I also worked for a couple of months at Oxford University Press, and have done internships with three different publishing houses (a medical publisher in the UK, and two small literary presses in my hometown of Minneapolis).
What did you do in college to prepare for your post-grad life?
At Carleton I worked for The Write Place, where I helped provide advice to students on the structure and form of their papers. I also worked over two summers for Carleton's Summer Writing Program, which brought in high school juniors and seniors to help prepare them to read, write and think at a college level. These experience helped hone my editorial eye, which had naturally developed writing papers for my degree, and got me interested in the idea of editing.
The two internships I did in Minneapolis convinced me that working in publishing was something I wanted to pursue. But given that it can be a hard field to get into, I decided to take part in a program to help me prepare and network before I started. I applied to the publishing programs at Columbia and Denver, but I ultimately decided on the Oxford Brookes program because it would give me the opportunity to live overseas, and because it would give me a Master's degree as opposed to just a certificate (it was also early 2009 when I was making this decision and giving the world economy a year to recover before I started looking for a job didn't sound like a bad idea).
The Brookes program was great-it introduced me to the whole publishing process (editorial, marketing, design, production), and also to the many issues that crop up in the field (I can't tell you how many talks we had about eBooks and other digital products). It also highlighted the difference between trade and academic publishing, which are pretty significant. Because of the breadth of the Brookes course, I was able to apply for jobs in editorial, marketing and production.
Tell us about how you found your first job, and how you found your current job (if different).
After the Brookes course I applied for, and interviewed for, a lot of jobs. It took me about 6 months to get hired, but that's because I had to get my new visa-living and working internationally is great, but it comes with a lot of headaches! For editorial positions I usually had to do some sort of proofreading test, and there were a couple of 'how would you prioritize the following tasks' sort of things. If I got to a second interview, there was always a task involved there-designing a short marketing plan for a prospective book was a common one.
I got my first job after refining my interview approach over the course of 10+ interviews (stupid visa issues), and off the strength of the course's reputation. I eventually had to leave the UK because my visa ran out (stupid visa issues!), but I had impressed the people I worked with, so when a new position became available in the New York office I was notified and invited to interview. It was a lot easier that time around.
What is your advice for students and graduates with an English degree?
You really can do anything with an English degree-the skill set that you learn as an English major transfers really well to a number of different fields. The best advice I can give is to have a solid idea of what you want to do, figure out what it takes to break into that field, and then find some way to supplement your skill set with practical experience. This can be more difficult in some areas than others-getting into publishing can often require you to do unpaid internships, which can be tough depending on your economic situation. But I think that for a lot of jobs, if you can figure out the specific skills they're looking for and emphasize them in the interview, you're halfway there.
If you're thinking about publishing as a career choice, I definitely recommend internships to see if you really are interested. A certificate or degree program definitely helps pave the way as well, although it's not necessary. It's a good idea to look at industry publications like Publishers Weekly or The Bookseller to get an idea of what sort of issues the industry is dealing with, as well as some of recent news. Also, be sure you know what sort of books the company you're applying to publishes-if you want to see a book you've worked on in Barnes & Noble, academic publishing is less likely to give you that pleasure. There are also recruiting agencies that work specifically in the publishing industry that could potentially help you.