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What do you want to be when you grow up?

career in books

What do you want to be when you grow up?  It’s a question we often ask children; I know I was asked numerous times when I was a child.  Originally I wanted to be in the Police, then when I chose my options I wanted to be a Social Worker. By the time it came to receiving Careers Guidance in school, I’d settled on working in retail, and planned to train in management for Marks and Spencer because I thought it was the right thing to do.

I was sent to Redbridge Careers Service for a Careers Guidance Interview, and the options were ‘Do you want to work in an office/shop/factory/indoors/outdoors? -Delete as applicable’. At the time there was no guidance for working in a particular industry or profession, no internet to discover opportunities available, and aside from the few days I’d spent drawing pictures in my Mum’s office when school was closed, no real experience of the world of work.

This is a scan of my actual Careers Guidance Interview Statement.

Careers Guidance 1983 Scan (640x466)

Careers Guidance Interview Statement

At school I was always the person chosen to tidy the English Department’s cupboard of books.

When they relocated the cupboard from one side of the school to the other, the Head of English asked me to come in especially to help organise.  Yet no one at school or in the Careers Service ever told me I could work in publishing; no one ever told me I could work with books and this is why, after I fell into publishing by accident at the age of 16, I have spent most of my publishing career letting others know that they too could have career with books.

I often describe publishing as a vocation; it definitely is for me – is it for you too?  What did you want to be when you ‘grew up’? Were you told about publishing as a career?

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