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Jessica Meylikhov

Editorial Assistant (Health Sciences), Wiley

You are your toughest critic, so be kind to yourself. Make your own rules and goals, and know that it’s okay if they change, it’s okay if you fail, and it’s okay if you change your mind. 

What do you do?

Wiley publishes scientific journals of all varieties. I work on health science journals in the fields of Cardiology, Transplantation, and Nursing. I assist in managing the publication of the journals’ issues by analyzing data of article output and readership, and generating ideas for new issues, finding new authors and early career researchers to contribute. I help with finding topics in the science fields that are important and up-and-coming. I also assist in finding new members for the journals’ editorial boards to improve the diversity and inclusiveness within the community by promoting the addition of more women, people of color, international, and younger researchers. I am also very active in enhancing the in-office culture by helping set up workshops, panels, and talks for my colleagues about personal and professional development, equity, diversity, and inclusion. 

Why did you choose this field?

"At the age of 27 I went back to school to get my degree."

I worked in healthcare since I was 15. I started out making copies in a doctor’s office. I then moved to be a receptionist in internal medicine and urology. Then, I became a diagnostic and surgical coordinator in orthopedics. I eventually moved to veterinary care I was a veterinary assistant and administrator for six years. I loved what I did, but it wasn’t enough.

 

I wanted more and biology was a real passion of mine. I received my Associate’s Degree in Biology from Roxbury Community College, then transferred to UMass Boston for my Bachelor’s Degree. This is when I became unsure of myself. I loved studying biology (particularly anatomy, physiology, and microbiology), but I was uncertain of my options. My professors pushed me to become a nurse, doctor, or go into research, but it just didn’t feel right. I realized one morning that I had a dual passion of sciences and literature; and with that I felt like I was stuck between two worlds.

 

I did some of my own career research and stumbled upon scientific and scholarly publishing. Once I found out that field existed, it was a revelation. I felt like that was where I needed to be to satisfy what I thought were conflicting interests and passions. Since, I already had a degree in biology, I switched my major to English and focused on professional writing, editing and critical analysis. I also took a data analysis class. All of these different courses and interests melded into a knowledge that has greatly helped me find a career in STEM that may not be typical but has (and continues to) make me feel proud and accomplished of my work.

What do you look at and think, "I wish younger me would have known this was possible"?

"Doing nothing due to fear is worse than failure, it’s surrendering your ambitions."

I honestly never had confidence in myself professionally. You can probably call it a case of imposter syndrome. For a long time, I put off school and studying biology (then English) because I thought I would fail. I didn’t think I could be smart enough to graduate and yet I did graduate with honors. I wish my younger self knew that the idea of failure is okay, and it is a possibility. Failure is always going to happen in some way or another, but overcoming it helps you grow. That feeling of overcoming failure is incomparable and empowering. In the end, undermining your own abilities just hurts yourself and no one else around you. Don’t become your own worst enemy.

Why do you love working in STEM?

My favorite thing about STEM is the people. The diversity of the individuals and especially their backgrounds (both personally and professionally) is so rich and fascinating. STEM attracts such a broad array of people from different experiences that I feel as though I’m constantly learning and continually becoming a better person for it. I love that in STEM, educating yourself and others is endless. I wake up every morning in anticipation with what I will learn that day, whether it’s something related to my specific work, something in the science fields I work with, or something completely different and unrelated from a colleague.

Best advice for the next generation

You are your toughest critic, so be kind to yourself. Make your own rules and goals, and know that it’s okay if they change, it’s okay if you fail, and it’s okay if you change your mind. Believe in yourself and surround yourself with people who support you. They don’t have to agree with everything you choose to do, but they’ll be there for your ups and downs. They’ll be an ear when you just need to talk things out. A support system is a powerful motivator and booster of your own self-worth. I know I wouldn’t be where I am now without the support of my family, and most of all, my husband who has been with me for every stumble and success. 

Fave app

Libby. I love listening to nonfiction books while I work, and Libby connects to your local library so you can rent audiobooks for free!