Running a panel on the nebulous world of internet publishing, Maggie Walter (University of Missouri School of Journalism), Shana McNally (Costco), and Emmy Favilla (BuzzFeed) explained just what it takes to secure a job in copy editing in this day and age. Walter’s overarching advice: “Outwork the guy next to you.”
When it comes to securing a position as a copy editor, perhaps the most important aspect is the test a company administers to make sure you’ve brushed up on your grammar and general knowledge skills. The test, depending on the publication, usually consists of a series of sentences to be checked for errors and sample articles to be edited in order to determine your critical thinking skills and often your time management skills. Walter passed on her top tips for tackling the test:
When it comes to the application and the interview, McNally shared her crucial checklist:
Only if a candidate did all of the above steps did they get a second interview with Costco. Though this is company-specific, McNally’s list is an excellent framework for approaching any job application. It essentially adds up to maintaining a level of professionalism and positivity throughout the process.
As for cover letters, Favilla explained how the cover letter is your chance to convey your personality right away. Where writing samples and resumes may be a bit standard and impersonal, a cover letter is the chance to show who you are and make yourself stand out. It’s the place to tell an appropriate anecdote and genuinely express your love for copy editing. She also advised to know your audience, that the tone of the cover letter should match the tone of the publication to which you are applying.
The goal of the whole application, Walter advised, is to make yourself look as strong as you are.
The average amount of time between an interview and a job offer is 22.9 days, Walter explained, so there’s no need to panic when a publication doesn’t respond right away. It takes some time and lots of practice, but landing the right job or the dream job is a matter of hard work, honesty and humility.
And thank you notes. Lots and lots of thank you notes.
Katie Antonsson is a student at the University of Pennsylvania.