Successful Rights Assistant at Penguin Random House and recent graduate Eishar, spoke to me about her experience of finding her way onto the career ladder. Talking about her life, her passion for Publishing and ambition to move forward.
Eishar sincerely and honestly contributed to the first Graduate Profile series rebooted, now with a twist.
This series will be about graduates from a BAME background launching themselves onto career ladder – focusing on the struggles and successes of making themselves known. First in line is, an interview with Eishar.
Hi Eishar, how are you?
Very well, thank you!
So how was your internship been going?
It’s been fantastic – in fact, as of the beginning of August, my internship has ended and I am now a Rights Assistant at Penguin Random House Children’s.
Can you imagine doing this for the rest of your life?
I can definitely see myself working in Publishing for the rest of my life; and having worked in Children’s publishing since Nov 2014, I think I can see that as a viable long-term option. It’s such a fun, dynamic and vibrant bit of the industry… I don’t see myself leaving any time soon.
As far as my current role goes, I don’t know that I would work in Rights for the rest of my life, but who knows? I’m just starting out!
When did you realise the field that you are in is for you?
I always knew I wanted to work with literature in some form or another, and I think this love of the publishing industry has just been confirmed by my internship. It really helped me see which roles I enjoy, and which experiences I want more of.
Has your experience changed you?
Definitely. On a practical level, I have some valuable experience on my CV, a strong knowledge of my industry, and an idea of my future goals. On a more emotional level, I think the year after graduating can be just as intense as your first year of university, and this internship really helped me find my place in the ‘real world’.
Going into your internship what were your expectations/misconceptions?
I think I definitely had a misconception about what being an intern meant. I had that stereotypical image of me running around making tea all day, and although I have made my fair share of tea it’s been a much wider experience than that! I don’t know whether this is just due to the work ethic and welcoming nature of Penguin Random House, but I was given a good amount of responsibility and had some amazing experiences that I wasn’t expecting at the start of my internship.
Did you feel like your culture/background would limit/ still limits your current or future career options?
Before I started this job, I thought I would find it hard to break into publishing, as it’s notoriously nepotistic, white and middle-class (and I wasn’t wrong, it was hard). Now I’m here I don’t feel as hindered because I’ve got my foot in the door, but I’m very aware that it’s still not easy for current BAME graduates to break through that cultural divide.
Have you ever been told you can’t hack into your chosen career field?
Not by anyone whose opinion I value.
Was it easy for your to find this internship or did you fill in loads of applications? Be honest!
I spent just over 3 months applying to jobs – and definitely more than one internship after graduating, but it felt like a century.
In the last year what has been your greatest achievement?
Graduating, getting this internship in an amazing company, getting a permanent role in that same company, passing my driving test… the last year has been a whirlwind of personal achievement, and I think it’s really important to take pride in moments like that.
What has been your worst experience in the working world?
They’ve honestly not been as frequent as expected, but it’s the moments when I’m starkly aware/reminded that I am the ‘other’ in the room or conversation – like someone dismissing the concept of cultural appropriation, or making a joke about curry. I want to be good at my job, and I work hard at it, so it’s awful when I feel like I have to hide my honest opinions or let an argument go for the sake of a professional demeanour. The thing about being a minority is, you’re always expected to be the one to back down, to let things go and not make a fuss, and there is always a whole room of people who don’t understand where you’re coming from; they see your opinions as invalid and unnecessarily argumentative. You are literally in the minority, and that’s been the hardest thing to swallow about working in a fairly white industry.
Do you feel your experience was influenced by your culture/background?
I think my culture is tied in to every experience I have – it’s part of who I am. So of course, yes my experience has been influenced by being a young British Indian woman.
How do you measure your success?
That little fizzy feeling in my stomach that tells me I’m where I need to be. Or by the number of books I’ve read in any given week/month/year.
What keeps you going?
The fact that I get to work with books for a living. My own determination. Making the people I love proud.
Is it important to maintain a network?
This is the worst thing you get told as a graduate and an intern. ‘Network! You won’t succeed if you don’t network!’ Nobody goes into work thinking ‘today I must network’. No, it’s arbitrary and fake. It’s important to meet people, as you do throughout the natural course of your job, and build good professional relationships with them. That is actual networking, but unfortunately it’s become such an irritating buzzword that we now need to scrap it entirely. Just be yourself, be good at what you do, be approachable and warm and friendly, and your network will build itself.
So, you are on the career ladder is it easy sailing from here?
Ha! I wish! I feel like if you asked someone who’d worked in their industry for 40 years that same question, they’d still have that incredulous reaction. Easy sailing is boring anyway…
Where do you see yourself in 5 years time?
Happy. With that fizzy feeling in my stomach that tells me I’m a success.
What’s the best advice you can give to Graduates or other people who want to establish a career in the creative field?
Keep applying through the rough post-uni months. Ignore anyone who tells you to settle, you’ll know when your job is right for you. Quit 10 times if you have to. It’s not quitting if you still have an end goal in mind. Be yourself. Never google ‘what to say in an interview’, because you will hide all valuable aspects of your personality from your interviewer. Don’t wear new shoes to interviews or on your first day, you’ll 100 % get blisters.
And find other people like you, whether they’re BAME or new at work or they get the same train, and talk to them – support each other. Root for your peers.