Sure, editors work on the language of publications to ensure its clarity and correctness, but they also do a lot more.  Depending on what kind of venue they work for, editors can suggest stories to cover, work with staff writers to help them on their pieces, and frequently they must keep their eye on deadlines and budgets.  Managing editors, like our alumna Taja Whitted (2014), keep many balls rolling at once.

Taja_headshot2What is your job?

My title is the Assistant Managing Editor

What is the broader field of industry in which this work exists? 

The industry is Journalism, specifically magazines.

What, in general, do you do as part of this job?

I work with the Managing Editor to facilitate the editorial flow. So that’s following up on deadlines with writers, managing the editorial calendar and the magazine’s production schedule plus sometimes designing pages in Adobe InDesign. I also assist with the website and newsletter.

What are the pros and cons of this kind of job?

I am working at a niche magazine for Emergency medicine. The Pros are that it’s small and very hands on. I have more responsibility and consult for major projects. I get to travel and attend medical conferences with expenses paid for. The company also just launched another magazine so I get to see the business side of creating your own publication, which goes along with my future goals. The Cons for being at a niche publication is that it is focused on one area of the health world. So there are limited health topics I can cover that I am also interested in. It’s also mostly a desk job so not much room to move around and a lot of staring at the computer screen.

What skills did you learn as an English major that you use in this job?

Having professors who were strict with paper deadlines has prepared me to figure out what is a reasonable timeline for a project. I am accountable for writers turning in their work on time and managing my own schedule so that I keeping the publication running smoothly. Once a writer turns in their assignment I have to edit it for clarity. I have no previous medical knowledge,  so with my analytical skills developed by reading literature and obscure texts, I can grasp the tone of a piece and determine if the author is making a valid and unique point.

How have you learned to do this job?

My first hands-on journalism experience was at The John Jay Sentinel, the school newspaper. The paper’s monthly deadline is the same way my company is run. There I learned reporting skills, journalism basics and how to handle the many moving parts, for example working with staff members and a printer. It was also my first experience using Adobe programs like InDesign and Adobe Photoshop which is useful to know. While in the club I also did a series of editorial internships, a few remote that were unpaid and one for school credit at Cosmopolitan magazine for Latinas. These activities helped build up my resume and writing portfolio which made me the best candidate for my current position. I also suggest reading books on the industry and life after college. My favorites in no particular order are: The Defining Decade by Meg Jay, On Writing Well by William Zinsser, Writing Tools by Roy Peter Clark, All Work No Pay by Lauren Berger, Follow the Story by James B. Stewart, and the Art of Creative Nonfiction by Lee Gutkind. Sorry I read a lot but many of these books provided inspiration and reassurance. Currently I’m reading Made to Stick by Chip Heath and Dan Heath.

How did you get this job?

I saw a posting on the site ed2010.com which is a listing for journalism jobs and internships.

For current students interested in this line of work, do you have any recommendations on what they can do now to start directing their career path?

Intern! This field is hard to get into unless you have work experience. Even if it is an unpaid internship remotely that you can do from home it will boost your skills and your resume. You can also create a blog with a beat and use that as a writing portfolio in the event that you do not land any internships. Lastly a great mentor is key. One of my professors over time became my mentor. She was available for bouncing ideas, gave practical advice and helped me navigate the ups and downs of trying to launch my career. Without her guidance I’d probably still be stressing out about the world!