Whilst a lot of us have heard of ‘Editing’ and nod in the right places when someone mentions it, do we actually know what it means to work in editing? Emmy Hawker, Beth Roskilly, and I all decided that the best way to find out was to spend some time in the field. We did this through the Professional Skills, ‘Placement’, module that is offered within a number of departments, such as Creative Writing and History, during the second year of a student’s degree programme. I spoke to Emmy and Beth to see what it was like to work in editing, and, if so, how our experiences varied.

Where did we work?

As can be hinted from the title, we all chose a placement based in editing, however, we all worked for different companies. Emmy worked for Project Birmingham as their Literature Manager; Beth’s placement was with the Luxury Travel Guide as an Editorial Intern; and I was an Editorial Assistant for British American Media.

What does a typical working day in Editing look like?

A typical working day for Beth and I started with waking up early and getting trains so that we were at our respected offices for nine am. Beth would set up her computer and get on with any work she had left over from the week before, or sometimes her supervisor, depending on how busy he was, would sit down with her and give constructive feedback on work she had previously completed. My day started similar to Beth’s:

“I would get myself organised and then my supervisor would inform me of the articles she wanted me to write that day”.

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Me at work with placement supervisor Gemma

We would both be researching and writing articles throughout the day, Beth’s obviously within a travel theme such as hotel profiles, whereas mine would vary every week:

“For example, I wrote articles about CVs and Cover Letters yet also about National Bed Month, and the best way to have a good night’s sleep”.

We would do this all day, both having an hour for lunch at one o’clock, until the working day finished at five o’clock. So although our work varied in subject, our daily regimes were very much alike even though we worked for different companies.

Not all editing jobs are this regimented however, as Emmy experienced. Her day wasn’t really structured at all. It was up to her to do however many hours she could each week and she predominantly spent this time wandering the streets of Birmingham to find “lesser known gems” (small music venues; vintage shops; cafes and restaurants that weren’t necessarily known to the wider public) for a conductive tour that was to be part of the interactive magazine she was creating for the company. She aimed to do six hours each week and she would have team meetings every Monday or Tuesday to relay her progress.

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Emmy’s work on Sights and Sounds

What is the most challenging part of an Editing placement?

When I asked what was the most challenging aspect of an editing placement, Emmy immediately answered with:

 “probably the jump to being very independent”.

It’s important to note that none of us got to choose our ‘style’ of work; Emmy was just expected to be self-motivated when left to her own devices. She told me that she feels she has become a better person for it though, especially as a prospective employee.

Beth stated that she thought research was the most difficult aspect of editing:

I’m asked to write about specific locations or hotels, and sometimes I find some information about the place but it’s in a different language. I try and translate it but more often than not it doesn’t make sense”.

When I asked her how she resolved this issue she told me that she tried:

“approaching it from a different angle – like finding a picture and describing that instead”.

I also found research difficult, but from the perspective of being given a brief that I had absolutely no idea about and being expected to write an article on it. It was like starting a module and being given a week to read all the texts as well as writing an essay on the topic. Like Emmy, Beth and I both feel as if we are better employees due to this, as being an editor comes with, depending on how you view it, the gift of being able to write about anything

What did we gain?

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The more glamorous side of Editing: Beth attended the Luxury Travel Guide’s awards ceremony

Although each of us worked for a different organisation and had varying projects – i.e. creating a magazine, writing articles – it’s evident that we all gained something by taking the module. In regards to future career paths, Emmy is now certain that she wants to become an editor after graduation and becoming a travel writer” would be the dream” for Beth. Even though I’m not as secure on my future career path as Emmy and Beth, I still see my time on placement as positive:

“I’m now aware of what it’s like to work in editing and can use the skills I gained to help me decide my next steps”.

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So what can you do if you would like experience in editing?

If you are eligible for the Professional Skills module, I would definitely recommend taking it. It’s evident that Beth, Emmy, and I all gained numerous skills from the module that we can now add to our CVs. Otherwise, you can register on Careers Connect where many internship opportunities are listed. These are also linked to on the Careers Network Facebook and Twitter pages.

This blog post was written by Cara Dudgeon, final-year English and Creative Writing student who took the Professional Skills module in 2016-17.

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