Name: Sarah Poretr

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Name: Sarah Porter
Job title and/or employment area: Senior Editor (MFL), at a digital educational publisher
1) What led you to decide to go into this area? To what extent is it as you had anticipated?
Going into the final year at Warwick I didn’t have much idea what I wanted to do, but I hit on
educational publishing as something that would enable me to be ‘helpful’, and where I could do lots
and lots of reading.
2) After your degree, what extra study or training – if any – did you need to get into this
area? What extra study or training – if any – have you done since you started?
I did a short evening course in publishing at Warwick – the tutor was an aspiring author and worked
for a literary agent I think. This was interesting, and went on my CV, but not hugely relevant to the
area of publishing I work in as everyone else on the course was a fiction writer wanting to find out
how to get their work published.
I did a few days’ work experience at Scholastic in Leamington – this was very helpful as I got to sit in
an editorial office and see what the day-to-day life was like.
I also did a correspondence editing/proofreading course which I think was invaluable to getting my
first job. I had only just started the course when I got the job, and I really learned all I needed to
know on the job, but it showed a level of commitment. I also already knew the proofreading marks
when I started my job, which was helpful, but I’m sure you could find these online for free.
Since I’ve started work, I’ve had a lot of inhouse informal training, and one employer paid for me to
do a CELTA course (teaching English as a foreign language), as this was the area I was working in but
didn’t have any teaching experience.
3) How did you find your first job? (Newspaper ad, speculative application, personal contact,
etc.)
The Bookseller website. The Guardian website is also very good for publishing jobs, and Oxford
Brookes publishing MA site has a good list of jobs and work experience opportunities (mostly in
Oxford).
4) How has your career developed since then?
I started as an editorial assistant at a small publisher producing GCSE and A-level resources. After
about two years there, I moved to a position as Managing Editor at a much larger publisher
producing ELT materials for Spain. I stayed there for about two years, and then decided that ELT
wasn’t where I wanted to work permanently, so I moved to a company producing digital content for
the UK market.
5) What does/did your job involve on a day-to-day basis?
I am working on a Spanish digital product at the moment, so I am creating quizzes that students will
be able to access online. On a day-to-day basis, I create the content, proofread other people’s work,
brief artwork, research photos, check copyright issues where necessary, deal with authors and
reviewers, prepare scripts and then attend audio sessions with native speaker actors, edit that audio
and embed it into the activities. I also create and manage the schedule for my particular project.
6) What are the highlights of the work? What are the elements that are more difficult?
I love doing something that is ‘helpful’ and the fact that I’m always learning, both about the subjects
that I’m editing material on, and about digital processes (coming from a print publisher, it’s quite
different doing everything on screen!) This doesn’t apply to my current role, but in my previous
position, I found scheduling a headache – deadlines were constantly moving as we were reliant on
so many different groups: freelance designers, editors, marketing people in Spain.
7) In your opinion, what skills, interests and aptitudes does a person need to be
happy/successful in this area of work?
A good eye for detail, and a desire for things to be ‘just right’. In my job you need to be able create
the best layout possible for a screen, and explain material to students appropriately and clearly for
their age/ability.
You need to be happy to work in relative isolation – editing is something that can often be done by
yourself, without the company of others, so all the offices I’ve worked in have been fairly quiet. For
educational publishing, an interest in education is a bonus.
8)
What major changes (if any) do you anticipate in this area of work? How do you think
these might impact on new entrants to the profession?
Things are definitely shifting towards digital materials, so a basic aptitude with computers is very
important.
9) What advice would you give to an undergraduate who was considering getting into this
area of work?
Work experience at a publisher will definitely help your CV, and might lead to a job if the publisher is
impressed with your work. If you’re interested in educational publishing, some sort of education
experience can be helpful (for example, teaching English abroad would definitely help an application
to an ELT publisher).
Please tick one:
I am happy for my e-mail address to be available to students _X_
I am happy for my e-mail address to be available to anyone __
E-mail address: [email protected]
I do not want my e-mail address to be made available
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