A career in scholarly publishing isn’t always something that one immediately plans out for – in fact, for most of the 9 presenters (who ranged across all areas in STM Publishing) related closely to the theme of “Falling into Scholarly Publishing”. From calling their careers a “happy accident”, as Stephanie Savage, Librarian, UBC did, to describing their path as “stumbling into the right places” such as Randy Townsand, Sr. Program Director, AGU shared. Each presenter took us through their career journeys, the biggest challenges, and most exciting aspects of their current roles. But despite the varied roles and paths, some common themes and advice for listeners were clear:
- Be aware of opportunities and be ready to make the most of it. Don’t be timid. It’s not just about being at the right place/right time as Barbara Ford, President, Meyers Consulting Services, noted, but also being able to recognize and act on it. Later, presenters talked about ways one could recognize those “right time/right place” moments. Shirley Decker-Lucke, Content Director, SSRN/Elsevier, spoke about recognizing 1) something you are really good at, 2) Something you really enjoy, and 3) something that is valuable to the business.
- Know when it is time to make a move and leave your safety net. Todd Greene, Executive Editor, Wiley, mentioned there is a saying that once you get into publishing, you tend to change roles several times and work for at least 3 publishers… well, he has worked at 8! Each time he has moved around has brought in new challenges and opportunities to learn topics and interact with new communities. And if a role isn’t a good fit, be ready and strong enough to move on.
- Skills acquired at one job can help you transition to another. Aileen Irons, Associate Marketing Manager, Wiley, credited the skills, such as attention to detail developed during her stint in production as critical to her successful transition into a position in marketing.
- Be interested in what’s going on elsewhere in the industry. And beyond being just interested, sharing that energy with colleagues can lead to exciting places, as Laura Ricci, Consultant, Clark & Esposito advised. Randy Townsand also recommended having conversations about things you are passionate about – be it preprints, ethics or open access. You never know where those conversations may take you or what ideas they might spark.
- Communicate your professional interests to your peers and colleagues. Whether it’s volunteering for committees in areas you are seeking to grow in, such as Marisa LaFleur, Acquisitions Editor, Elsevier, suggested, or becoming an expert in some specific aspect of your role, as Aileen Irons showcased. Publishing is a collaborative environment and you shouldn’t feel like you should stay in your lane.
- Bet on yourself. You don’t know what opportunities you can get if you don’t apply for them. Don’t be afraid to go after new positions.
- Be prepared and ready to re-invent yourself. Positions, departments, organizations are not static, so if your goal is to stay at an organization you believe in, stay adaptable as Randy Townsend communicated.
- Get involved with organizations (such as SSP!) as a way of networking and building connections. And SAY YES to volunteering opportunities. Several presenters mentioned SSP as being critical to their career development – for example, Michael di Natale, Director of Technology and Operations, BioOne, got great recommendations and referrals from people he had worked with on SSP committees, which helped him land a new position. And Aileen Irons spoke highly of the mentorship program as a way of leveraging the wide network of expertise within the SSP organization.
News contribution by SSP member, Sarah Garfunkel. Sarah is the Associate Marketing Director at Wiley.