“English majors usually hear that becoming an author or teaching are our only career options, but that’s not true,” says alumna Ayesha Mumal. “There are a whole bunch of other things you can do with your degree.”
Mumal, who graduated in 2018 with an Honours BA double majoring in English Language and Literature and French Studies, was one of those English majors who was drawn to the world of publishing, but not necessarily as an author.
“This was one of the reasons I took Marty Gervais’ Editing and Publishing Practicum course,” says Mumal. “That course really solidified what kind of industry I wanted to work in — the publishing industry.
“In Marty’s practicum, I was mostly a presenter. Before this class, I was the shy bookworm,” Mumal laughs. “I was too shy to speak up and say what role I wanted, so Marty chose for me. I learned public speaking skills. Presentation skills. These are really necessary in the business world. Even if I hadn’t decided to go into publishing, I learned many transferable skills including managing deadlines, coordinating with an author, a bit of public relations, event planning, and budgeting. These skills have helped me in my jobs so far.”
After graduation, Mumal taught English in South Korea, which provided more experience presenting to groups. She is currently completing the publishing certificate program at Ryerson University online.
Mumal landed an assistant position doing event co-ordination early this summer with “The Word on the Street” Toronto book and magazine festival, a non-profit organization that celebrates Canadian reading, writing, and champions literacy, primarily through a free, annual outdoor festival. Now in its 31st year, the festival has moved online to a virtual platform, with its team creating an online marketplace in four months.
Working remotely from home in Windsor, Mumal has been busy moving this 200-vendor festival online.
“We’ve created a vendor store online, a ‘marketplace’ with virtual storefronts for vendors,” she says. “I host our events on Instagram live, introducing speakers and moderating the chat. Once it is up and running, I will probably be introducing speakers and moderating panels during the festival.”
These experiences have sparked Mumal’s interest in pursuing marketing and public relations in the publishing industry.
The Word on the Street festival opens Sept. 21, with its main speakers scheduled for Sept. 26 and 27. Find more details on its website.