Interview with Camilia Kahrizi

Check out my interview with the stellar Camilia Kahrizi! She’s a Marketing and Website Coordinator

Occupation: Marketing and Website Coordinator

Why did you decide to venture into the world of publishing?

14883411_10154873465927214_2325974902712972858_oI was going into my last year of university, and quickly realizing my English degree wouldn’t get me very far once I graduated. So I started looking into internships. I came across one at a small publishing company in Montreal, and though it seemed daunting and unreachable to me, my friend Mahak Jain pushed me to apply. I got the internship, and worked there for three months. I loved it, and felt like I had a purpose for the first time. I came out of it knowing what I wanted to do with my life.

What got you into marketing?

That first internship was in marketing—I thought, based on my personality and previous work experience, that I would be better suited there, rather than editorial. It ended up being a good choice; I think there is more competition for editorial positions, and marketing skills are transferable to many other industries, should the publishing thing not work out!

What are some things you love about your job and your work?

I like working with authors and illustrators, and getting to see all the new books as they are published. My favourite part is connecting them to teachers and librarians, either through our book giveaway program or through school readings; it feels like I’m making a difference in a very tangible way.

Also, as a result of my job, my niece and nephew got to grow up with lots of great Canadian books.
What do you think is the most difficult part about your work?

The industry in general is a hard one to be in – the low salaries can be challenging for many, and jobs are few and far in between. Jobs that do come up are insanely competitive. You have to be fairly privileged to gain access, which doesn’t help for diversity.

Is there anything you’re working on right now that you want to share? Any exciting industry trends we should be aware of?

I’m in my second year as a jury member for the Elizabeth Mrazik-Cleaver Picture Book Award. It’s exciting because I get to read over 100 picture books published in Canada, and therefore get an overall picture of new trends and developments. In particular, you can see that a lot of publishers are making an effort to include more diversity in their books, which is encouraging. 

This interview series is about working women. Have there ever been times when being a woman has affected how you do your job (for better or worse)?

This is hard to say, because I work in such a female-dominated industry. I do think that, working in marketing and publicity, I sometimes have to force myself to break out of learned behaviour that often corresponds to how girls are socialized—never taking up space, never speaking up, never asking for things. These things do not serve you well in this line of work, and I’m glad I’m getting better at leaving them behind as I get older and gain more experience.

Any advice for young workers, or people who want to make the transition into marketing?

Prioritize work experience, either paid or volunteer, while you’re in school and/or still living at home. School is great – I still take continuing education classes every opportunity I have – but work experience will help you get jobs when you graduate. Also, you’ll pick up some useful life skills that don’t necessarily come to you at school, even basic things like how to comport yourself in an office environment.

If you’re already in the work force, I recommend volunteering to build up your resume and make connections—there are so many non-profit organizations out there that can use marketing help. Don’t be afraid to network too. It seems like such a daunting thing, but really, it’s just a matter of saying, “Hey, I find your work interesting. Can you tell me more about it?”

Finally, build up your web skills.

Bonus question: What are you currently reading/do you want to recommend a book to the world?

I’m currently reading Call Me by Your Name, because I can’t see a movie before reading the book first.

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