Chioma Nwaorgu-Okere: BA (Hons) Creative Writing and Film Studies 2013-2016 Community Associate at WeWork

26 Nov 20

“You need to have analytical skills if you want to work in the editorial side of publishing. For other departments within the industry, initial office experience is also beneficial depending on the role. Being personable and having a sales background also helps.”

Chioma Nwaorgu-Okere has gone from writing stories to working for WeWork. After graduating in 2016 with a BA (Hons) in Creative Writing and Film Studies, she began her career in publishing before deciding to move to Berlin, Germany. In a move to further her career, she began learning German with the hopes of improving her language skills and putting them to good use. At the moment she works as a Community Associate for WeWork, where she gets to put her writing skills to the test as well as practice her German language on a day to day. Her ultimate goal is to work within the foreign rights or international sales aspects of publishing.

“I was always interested in foreign rights and International sales, so I wanted to learn a second language to give myself an edge in the industry. I picked German because I studied it for GCSE and would have continued it in A-Levels but sadly didn’t get the grades I needed. Therefore, I decided to move out to Berlin after working for a year and have now lived here for two and a half years. Once I’m ready, I hope to move back to London and gain a job in publishing within an international sales or foreign rights department.”

“Along the way, I learned that if you can sell the rights of a book to Germany, the chances of other countries picking up the book are greatly increased. You don’t need to be fluent in an additional language to work in rights but it doesn’t hurt to have that skill.”

“I currently work as a Community Associate for WeWork, a company which deals with flexible office and co-working space. My role keeps me in touch with the community and is a cross between a receptionist and an office manager. It is the perfect role for me to practice my German but I also get to improve my English writing and communication skills, for example with emails, weekly building newsletters and broadcasts or our daily events. We are an English-speaking company but each market has its own flair.”

"The degree was very useful. However, I didn't use my degree the same way anyone else did. I preferred the critiquing and the rationale side of things."

"I put myself in the writer's perspective so I can learn about the audience and sell more books. I care about the process of the writing rather than the language. That's why I didn't study English. "

“For my dissertation, I wrote the first three chapters of a book inspired by the works of Jaye Wells. I also explained how I would market the book for the right audience and who would publish it.”

During her time at Winchester, Chioma was part of the Women’s Rugby team, where she made loads of friends and was a part of the society. In 2018, having been a graduate for two years, she came back to play at Winton, the annual charity event in which current and past teammates participate. She went on to win the ‘Man of the Match’ trophy for her contribution on the field, during that year's Winton match.

“In my second year at university, I became treasurer for the Women's Rugby Society. My role mainly involved collecting money and making sure it got to the captain. In my third year, I just wanted to play and enjoy being a teammate so I didn’t run for any committee positions.”

“It was a weird experience for me being a 'nerd' in the rugby team. I arrived at Winchester having grown up attending a sports academy but I didn't take sports as seriously as some people. I'm glad that I joined the society even just to try it out."

"I would have a lot of scheduling conflicts while studying at university so I didn't play rugby as much as I wanted. However, I was able to play and bear witness to the first game that our team had won since before my time at Winchester. When we won the match everyone was so ecstatic, they were running around the pitch."

Now that Chioma has been a graduate for four years and worked abroad, she has some great advice for students.

"In some workplaces, they have changed how they hire people and they don't look at your education as much. It used to be a case where education meant everything and these days, it’s no longer the case. Practical experience has proven to be more valuable. If like me, you completed extracurricular studies like short courses etc, it’s worth bringing this up in your interview to emphasise your qualifications but also your passion for the industry.“

"Keep going because we all have our hurdles. In my first year I failed two essays which I admit upset me – it was tough but it motivated me. It left me wondering if studying at university was for me but I kept going.”

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