Jayne Ziemba, MA‘11, English and Women’s, Gender, & Sexuality Studies: Associate Managing Editor, Penguin Random House
Can you describe your career path and how it has led to your current work?
I graduated from Brandeis in 2012 with a joint master’s degree in English and Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. I intended to stay in academia and applied to several PhD programs but was rejected across the board. In a panic and for lack of a better idea, I applied to every job in publishing I could find on the internet. I received one response for an interview at Bedford/St. Martin's to work as a contracted temp worker for six months in their literature textbook publishing division in New York City. After six months with Bedford/St. Martin's I had to begin my job search again, and luckily my manager knew someone at the textbook publisher Wiley who was in need of an editorial assistant. I was hired at Wiley and worked on computer science and math textbooks for a year and a half when I realized it was time to try to work on books I actually wanted to read! I followed my previous application strategy and applied to every trade book publisher job I could find for several months. I eventually interviewed and was hired at Penguin Random House in 2015, where I still work as a managing editor.
What services and/or resources did you use while at Brandeis for your career search?
Because I thought I was going to stay on the academic track, I consulted with professors about PhD applications and programs while at Brandeis.
What skills from your Brandeis degree have you found most valuable in your current work?
I'm not sure I would have been successful in starting a career in publishing if I hadn't first done my master’s at Brandeis. My experience at Brandeis totally shaped me into a better communicator, thinker, and collaborator. Ultimately, the most valuable skill I learned at Brandeis was to speak confidently about books, which is something I get to do every day in my job as a managing editor.
What advice do you have for current students as they embark on their job search?
There is something to be said for throwing everything at the wall and seeing what sticks. For me, I wasn't picky about where I started out in publishing; I just knew I wanted to get my foot in any door I could. My advice is to apply to anything and everything that could help you gain work experience in your desired field. The origins of my career path in publishing were desperate, but ultimately I am thrilled to be where I am today.