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Arts and Humanities - student stories

Claire Meadows, Editor in Chief

What did you study at the OU?

Literature BA (Hons).

Did you study to change/further your career or for personal goals?

Both. I had received offers from a number of mainstream universities but I’d just moved down to London and the cost of living meant that actually going to one of these wasn’t an option. My husband-to-be had gained his first degree from the OU, and funnily enough it was his ex-wife who suggested that I do my degree that way. During the year I studied law (I changed to literature the following year) I applied to the UK Civil Service. The fact I was studying law distance learning was picked up by someone in the Extradition Section who saw it as a remarkable achievement and hired me. I spent almost four years at the heart of government and never looked back.

What is your occupational background?

(Career trajectory, freelancer, contractor, projects, portfolio working etc.)

Civil servant at Home Office, to legal secretary at global company to Editor in Chief/Founder of arts magazine.

Did you gain any skills through your OU study that have had an impact at work?

Iron-clad discipline, ability to meet deadlines under seemingly impossible circumstances, the knowledge that anything is possible if you set your mind to it. This is all fabulous training for working self-employed, and for working in the media especially when deadlines are key to making sure everything is happening when, where and how it should be. There was nothing more character building than knowing your TMA was due the next day, you’ve only written half of it, you’ve just moved house and you’re stuck at Charing Cross station at 8.30 at night because your train, the train before and the train after have been cancelled.

Do you feel like the OU has changed you as a person? How?

Completely. From my self-worth, sense of achievement, and wanting to encourage people to believe in themselves enough to realise they can transcend any circumstances.

How did OU study transfer to the workplace?

Became more obvious when I became self-employed because my career was then based in the arts. The knowledge of the units stays with me, as well as the aforementioned skill-set re discipline. Treading an unorthodox path with my further education made me more open to considering unorthodox ways of working. This is perhaps why when I had my epiphany in 2009 and decided to become self-employed…pursuing my passion for the arts rather than staying on what I saw as the treadmill of traditional work…I was not scared of leaping in.

What do you know now that you wish you had known earlier?

If I could have changed anything about my OU experience I would have stuck out law and gained my degree in that. I often joke that I’m a frustrated lawyer at heart.

Not that I regret my decision to proceed with literature. It’s more an expression of my dual nature – I’m obsessed with systems and process but am also wildly artistic.

Did you undertake any work experience whilst studying?

N/A – I was already in full-time employment when I started studying.

What is your job role and what does it involve?

I’m Editor in Chief of After Nyne Magazine, an arts magazine that has its roots in the first business I founded in 2010. The magazine has now been absorbed into a larger group that is responsible for a creative services offering and (from Autumn 2017) an online gallery.

I responsible for managing all content and contributors to the magazine, the social media management, new business development, partnership management and advertising amongst other things.

What are you doing currently?

Tying up the loose ends on Issue 16 of After Nyne, while starting on the creation of issue 17. Issue 16 is with the designer at the moment. It will come over to my Assistant Editor to proofread, go back to the designer for touch-ups then over to the printer, and distributor.

While that’s happening on Issue 16, we’re already working content curation for Issue 17. We have about two weeks between issues, which are filled with promotion of the new issue, so not free time at all.

How would you describe a typical work day?

I start by reviewing emails and prioritising things that need doing immediately. Then I’ll work on interviews, deal with contributors, liaising with staff and planning meetings. If it’s deadline week, we have to balance last minute edits and liaising with our printer and distributor with our regular workload.

What is the working environment like?

I work out of a great club in Mayfair which is a great environment for fostering a forward-thinking mentality. We’re out and about a lot. I never really tire of the buzz of London. I came down from Hull almost twenty years ago, and I’ve always said London has my soul.

How did you enter into this role?

I created it. When I started my first business as an artist’s agency in 2010, I had no contacts at all. I ran a group exhibition that was a great success, but because I had no idea how to develop the infrastructure the business fell apart and I spent six months of 2012 in a corner licking my wounds. I’m never actually down for long and have spent the past five years learning on the job, and refining my instincts towards how to make things a success. Never go against your instincts. They’re primal for a reason.

What skills do you use most?

Discipline. Organisation. Foresight and writing.

What are the best and worst parts of the job?

I’m feeling that the time is about right to start work on my third original poetry collection.

What will you do next?

I haven’t mastered this yet. Still so much to do. But going into politics appeals. It shouldn’t. But it does.

Best – being able to do what I love every single day. Being in a position to explore the world’s most creative minds.

Worst – never entirely being able to switch off.

What advice do you have for current OU students that want to go into magazine editing?

Be willing to start at the beginning. Love what you do, and recognise when you’re being given opportunities that just may change your life. All experience is great experience. I said on LinkedIn the other day that every bad manager I ever had made me strive to be the best one I could be.

What plans do you have for the future?

I’m feeling that the time is about right to start work on my third original poetry collection.

What will you do next?

I haven’t mastered this yet. Still so much to do. But going into politics appeals. It shouldn’t. But it does.

Last updated 1 year ago