Editor: Robin Ngo Company: Fannie Mae Number of years in editing: Eight years
Tell us a little about yourself, including how you got started as an editor?
I’m a first-generation Vietnamese American and refugee—I immigrated to the United States with my mother and uncle when I was a toddler. Through high school Latin, I became enamored with ancient culture and language, which led to college and graduate work in classics and Mediterranean archaeology. I was looking for opportunities to use my background in ancient studies, and after a few years of administrative work and job-hunting, I was hired as an assistant editor at Biblical Archaeology Review magazine.
What is your area of focus and why did you select this niche?
My editing experience has been in archaeology outreach and the finance industry—pretty opposite fields!—where I’ve been an assistant editor, web editor, and copy editor. I’m open to different areas of focus, though. The beauty of editorial work is that you can adapt to different industries, always working with the common goal to make writing as clear as possible.
Walk us through a typical workday. How do you manage your time?
I’m currently a copy editor for Fannie Mae’s in-house creative team, made up of talent in writing, design, video production, events, brand journalism, and agency relationship management. From the time I log on and continuously throughout the day, I consult our project management system to manage my tasks and my time. It’s a great tool for establishing my schedule and setting expectations, but I also must be flexible for high-priority, quick-turnaround deliverables that occasionally pop up.
What is your favorite thing about being an editor?
I enjoy the opportunity to be a part of different types of media projects and events. Anything that involves words—from a marketing piece to a video to a script—should include a review by an editor.
What is your biggest challenge and how do you work through this?
Maintaining awareness of the big picture is a huge challenge when I’m jumping from project to project during busy periods. Sometimes, my gut reaction is to dive right into editing mode. When turning to a new task, I try to take a beat and refresh myself on the goals of the deliverable and the intended audience.
What are you currently working on?
Among other things, I’ve been working with colleagues to update guidance we developed on inclusive writing. We regularly review the guidance to stay up to date with current trends.
What advice do you have for someone who is just starting their career as an editor?
Connect with peers on social media. Not only do they provide tips on how to navigate creative fields, but they also share best practices and discuss thorny editing scenarios. I always learn something new from the editors and other media people I follow.
Additionally, I suggest creating an editorial style guide of common rules and guidelines—whether it’s based on a specific stylebook or on a company’s house style. You won’t be able to remember everything, so this guide is a great way to help you internalize the rules.