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‘The world of publishing seemed impenetrable’

Abdur-Raheem was mentored in 2018 and is now studying English Literature and Linguistics at Queen Mary University of London.
In front of a backdrop of the london skyline, four people smile at the camera
Abdur-Raheem with a group of other Arts Emergency young members on the rooftop of Hachette Publishing House, 2019.

Many fields have a mapped out pathway, with some well-established 'musts' to get your foot in the door. But, this did not seem to be the case for the publishing industry. It seemed impenetrable – a fact worsened by not being part of a wealthy, privileged social circle. As a disabled person I also have to contend with a lack of accessibility coupled with ableism.

When I heard that Arts Emergency aims to help young people like me to get into the arts I was eager to join.

My favourite part of mentoring was learning the intricacies of the publishing industry. This may sound very dull but learning about the normal, understandable structures and roles within the publishing industry really helped dismantle my perception that it was impenetrable!

My mentor was knowledgeable and kind in equal measure. She instilled confidence in me and provided me with the skills and advice to achieve my ambitions.

Through Arts Emergency I attended a four-day publishing course where I met with several industry professionals. I also visited two different publishing houses (both from the big 5).

Making your way as a young person is a difficult, doubt-filled process. Art is often the abode of introverts such as myself and the process of creating art is incredibly personal. However, any awkwardness is mitigated by the fact that Arts Emergency is a place full of creatives and people as passionate about the arts as you are.

I would encourage anyone to apply to become a mentee. I've yet to meet anyone who regrets it and I certainly don’t myself.