My Journey to a Master of Writing, Editing and Publishing at UQ

25 August 2022

UQ Master of Writing, Editing and Publishing student Zaynab Abdulkadir reflects on her journey to postgraduate study. 

Zaynab Abdulkadir is currently pursuing a Master of Writing, Editing and Publishing at UQ

As someone interested in pursuing an arts degree, you may hear many myths and stereotypes about career options. However, the skills you learn can be transferred to a variety of different disciplines. More than 50,000 students have graduated from The University of Queensland with an arts degree and have gone on to pursue careers in numerous industries including, education, government and business.

Five years ago, I applied for a Bachelor of Arts (English Literature). Although unsure what I wanted to do for a career, I did know I wanted to pursue something related to the creative writing industry. 

Using my studies in the classroom

In 2021, at the end of my 4-year bachelor degree, I became a teacher. 

For three months, I interned at a high-school, doing lessons plans, supervising students and making exam papers. My favorite part about being a teacher was that I was able to share my passion with students. In this role, I realised that I was using most of the skills I learnt during my English Literature studies. Things like how to argue well and persuasively, and critical thinking that required creativity.

From that experience I learnt that teaching was one of the many career paths I could take using my arts degree. Sitting there on my corner desk, surrounded by the background chatter of students, I asked myself: What else could I do? While teaching was a very enriching experience, I also wanted something more related to the writing field.

Discovering a new career pathway

In the next few weeks, I stumbled upon the Master of Writing, Editing, and Publishing (MWEP) program at UQ. It opened up a new perspective on just where I could take my career. 

Reflecting on the program I interviewed Dr Richard Newsome, the program convenor for the MWEP.  What resonated with me was how he described the high demand in the workforce for employees who can write persuasively and creatively.  

Writing is one of those so-called ’soft skills’ that employers are always on the lookout for,” he says.

We’ve had graduates accept jobs in the publishing industry but also who have fast-tracked their careers in their existing workplace thanks to the writing and editing skills they’ve sharpened through the MWEP program.”

 When asked why people generally apply to the MWEP program, Dr Newsome comments:

The MWEP program offers a terrific environment to enhance skills in specialist areas of interest. Most share a common love of writing, and a common desire to get better at it. Some apply in order to secure a job in the publishing industry, while others use it to improve their professional writing and editing skills.”

So far, I am in my second semester of the MWEP program and have already accumulated an abundance of knowledge regarding the publishing industry. Guest speakers from different industry fields frequent our lectures, and the lecturers are also established authors themselves. It is incredibly inspiring to learn from people who have already built a career in either the writing, editing or publishing world.

The Master of Writing, Editing and Publishing, allows students to learn from people who have already built a career in the industry. 

Advice for future students

My advice to students who are interested in pursuing a career in something related to the writing and publishing industry is to not let fear put you in a box. Do not choose one career path just because it is the expected path. You want to become a writer? Then write. You have an idea for a novel but don’t know how to start? Then this program will not only teach you how, but it will help you develop connections in the publishing world. This program is so much more than writing in the creative field, it opens doors to the corporate space as well.

Dr Newsome's advice is to be an active participant who is not afraid to lean forward and show a strong resolve and interest.

“Attend industry events, knock on doors,” he says, “publishing is a people business, so it’s important to mix with those people and show a genuine interest and determination to become part of that world.”

What I will tell you now, what I wish someone told me a year ago, is to not procrastinate your dreams. Don’t be afraid of taking that leap of faith and following through.

Do not make your career goal your hobby, make it your life.

I’m glad I did.

Written by Zaynab Abdulkadir

Interested in studying the Master of Writing, Editing and Publishing?

Learn more about the program