In response to COVID-19, Kickstart placements have given young people the opportunity to work in a range of creative industries, bridging the gap of unemployment that the pandemic has caused. Annabella Costantino, recent MA Publishing Media graduate from Oxford Brookes University, is a current Kickstart placement holder at inclusive children’s fiction studio, Storymix.
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
Hi! I’m Annabella and I work as a General Assistant to the Founder at Storymix. I also volunteer for The Publishing Post as a Contributing Writer and Copyeditor, and am growing my skills as a freelancer editor. I grewup in the East Midlands and moved to Guildford in 2016, where I studied BA English Literature with Creative Writing at the University of Surrey, graduating in 2019. Later that same year, I moved to Oxford to study MA Publishing Media at Oxford Brookes University. This was where I learnt about the publishing industry and it solidified my interest in children’s books.
How have you found the role at Storymix?
I’ve learnt so much! It has been great to see the internal processes of a publication and how different departments work together, in-house and with freelancers. The team is very friendly, quick to help and fun to work with. I have particularly loved to see how editorial and marketing work for creative projects in development and how to pitch a book to publishers. As it’s a remote position, I haven’t met any of my colleagues in-person though, which is common in the COVID-19 climate.
What does your role there involve?
My job is varied, which is why I love it. First and foremost, I offer administrative support to Jasmine Richards, founder of Storymix, by liaising with her professional network. I support ongoing projects by storylining and editing, as well as creating articles, blogs and social media content on behalf of Storymix, supporting marketing and PR strategy. Some examples are a set of inclusive book recommendations and a blog post for Black Books Matter, covering the publishing processes for Aziza’s Secret Fairy Door. I am also a reader and reviewer for prizes, providing feedback for Jasmine. It’s a very creative job where I have developed my attention to detail and organisation skills – and all in just a few months!
Why is Kickstart a good initiative by the government?
The Kickstart scheme has really helped young people whose careers have been negatively impacted by the pandemic. COVID-19 has significantly affected recruitment processes for recent graduates, with less job availability and opportunities to network with new people. The Kickstart scheme has connected companies with gateway organisations such as Creative Access, who in turn, have offered support to candidates and increased opportunities in a highly competitive job market.
How has Creative Access supported you during your placement?
Creative Access has offered training and workshops throughout my placement, specifically for the Kickstart cohort. This included an induction, where I got the chance to meet other Kickstarters and set SMART goals. This helped me to suggest ways of monitoring my progress at Storymix, taking the experience to the next level. Creative Access also offer several online masterclasses, in addition to our workshop schedule.
What are your hopes and ambitions career-wise?
My ambitions are that I can take my experience and work in a children’s publishing house, preferably in editorial. I would also love to return to the publishing scene in Oxford, if possible. My passion for words is what has taken me this far, and the chance to continue working on inclusive publications that positively impact readers would be amazing. Reading makes a difference, and I can’t wait to work on more books that I am passionate about. Publishing is an exciting industry and I have already met so many talented people. I have high hopes for the future and it’s great to see progress – one book at a time!
When Annabella isn’t at Storymix, you can find her portfolio on LinkedIn, including her interviews with publishing professionals and upskilling tips on The Publishing Post website. You can also find her on Twitter.
To explore Kickstart Scheme opportunities via Creative Access see here.