I was shepherded to my first Editors BC meeting by the editing instructor from my publishing diploma, who suggested I join Editors Canada. Maybe “suggested” isn’t the right word — when she heard I hadn’t joined yet, she had the college pay my student affiliate fee, told me which meeting we were attending and went with me.
Joining Editors Canada as a Student Affiliate
A born introvert, I was uncomfortable at that first meeting. Luckily, one of the more established members spotted my unease and took a moment to welcome me and chat.
At the time, I was working part-time in sales, taking on freelance editing work wherever I could find it, and applying to any job that mentioned editorial responsibilities. In the fall, I signed up for Simon Fraser University’s editing certificate program and took my first two courses (taught by that same editor from my first meeting!).
I continued to attend a few Editors BC meetings here and there, and eventually volunteered as the refreshments coordinator — partly because I love to share food with others, and partly because I knew that the networking opportunity was valuable, and I wanted something that would make it impossible for me to skip a meeting in favour of a little time curled up with my cats, a box of chocolates and an episode of Downton Abbey. The volunteer role helped me feel like a real member of the editing community.
Breaking into Publishing
By the following spring, I had made it into a publishing-adjacent job as an editorial intern for a content marketing company, and I was still taking classes at SFU in the evenings. The classes were expensive for an intern, and when I stumbled across a mention of the Claudette Upton Scholarship, I resolved to apply.
I spent a rainy day glued to a bench at Cartems Donuts, where I wrote my essay response and edited it thoroughly (is there anything more intimidating than sending written work to be judged by a panel of editors?). The instructor I’d met at that first Editors BC meeting wrote a glowing letter of reference for me, which I think really helped seal the deal, and I was awarded the 2015 Claudette Upton Scholarship.
Winning the Claudette Upton Scholarship
I put some of the scholarship money toward more editing courses at SFU and spent the rest on attending the Editors Canada conference, which that year was in my hometown of Vancouver. The judging panel invited me to read my essay response at the awards banquet — an unexpected and scary honour. Despite my nerves, I got all the words out.
The conference was a great opportunity to get to know and learn from fellow editors from all over the country, and having won the scholarship meant that many of these strangers now recognized me. It made me feel a lot more legitimate and gave me the confidence to chat with people I would normally have been anxious about approaching.
Getting My Dream Job
Meanwhile, my internship was nearly over. The company’s management team had heard about the award, and I think it was a factor in their decision when they asked me to stay. The excellent experience I gained in that position helped me build my confidence and skills, and eventually helped me move into an editorial position at Penguin Random House Canada — my dream job!
Sitting awkwardly at that first Editors BC meeting back in the spring of 2015, I had no idea that the people around me would become friends and colleagues, and that their support would help me win a national scholarship and, consequently, find fun and meaningful work as an editor. I’m so glad I went.
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