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Jessica Loayza

Manager, Web Publications, AIAA


Please tell us a bit about yourself (e.g. hometown, current locale, course of study).

I grew up in Northern Virginia and went to James Madison University. I studied Technical and Scientific Communications, focusing on online publications and publication management. I also have a minor in Computer Information Systems.

Describe some of your current responsibilities, and what type of organization you belong to.

I work for the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA), a non-profit society. I work in the publications department, which is only a fraction of the services we provide as a society. As the Web Publications Manager, I manage our publications platform and vendor relationships and partners. I also continually work to improve our platform’s user experience by updating and adding new features.

What was your first scholarly publishing role? How did you get that job? What path led to your current position?

I have been lucky in that I started here at AIAA with my first real publishing role. Over time my role evolved. When I first came on board, I was a Products Specialist and did more of assisting with the platform and author or content needs. I also came on board right as AIAA was moving to a new platform. Since then, I have taken over most of the platform responsibilities and led many of the projects around our platform.

If there was a pivotal moment or key person in your career development, please describe briefly.

My supervisor has been a great mentor. I came on board to many new things happening in our organization and didn’t exactly know what I was doing entirely. But she gave me enough space to learn, to make mistakes, and to guide me. Being “thrown in” to a huge project like a platform migration as a new employee was a great way to start my career and that was a pivotal moment for me.

What tools, websites, and organizations do you find most valuable for your career development?

Definitely SSP. It is such a great resource but even more so if you volunteer. You get the inside scoop on what’s going on with the industry and what opportunities are opening up. You can learn so much more than just your role, which I believe is the key to being a well-rounded professional in this industry. Stepping out of your comfort zone always opens you up to new opportunities and you never know what that will be.

What advice would you give to people interested in a career in scholarly communications?

Keep an open mind. It isn’t all about the traditional publishing roles. There is so much out there and it’s evolving so much. You could do anything in this industry! Try new things, learn about other roles, figure out where you fit in and be an advocate for scholarly publishing. The industry is changing immensely but it isn’t going anywhere.