My path to a copy editing niche
Generic vs overly specialized
In the copy editing field, you must know how narrow your specialization should be. Technical editors work for a variety of fields throughout their careers, most commonly technology, engineering, and medicine. It is advantageous to not only have impeccable writing ability but also demonstrate knowledge of your industry. Ilana Gershon, professor of Anthropology at Indiana university with an interest in how new media impacts the job search, explains that applicants are now “bundles of skills, experiences, and networked relationships, which affects the ways in which people create their genre repertoire” (1470–1471). Freelance technical editing requires grammar skills and familiarity of the subject matter as part of that genre.
How I stand out
There are several ways to stand out in the technical communication industry because there are several niches. Gershon indicates that job candidates are “evaluated for their competence creating a genre repertoire geared toward making them comparable with and yet distinct enough from all other job candidates” (1486). One way I have distinguished myself in technical communication is writing and editing in the field of Psychology for almost a year. I have a large body of work that I have edited for psychological research at UMBC in addition to my psychology minor. I have already somewhat specialized in the psychology niche if I so choose to continue with it after graduation.
How I blend in
Although it’s important to set myself apart from other applicants, it’s crucial conform to the basics of the technical communication genre to be successful. Gershon suggests that “If most people know the same rules for the game, when someone doesn’t follow those rules, it is likely to be noticed” (1056–1057). I primarily blend in with other applicants with my bachelor of arts degree in Media and Communication Studies, although others have related degrees like Journalism and English. A bachelor’s degree is the basic requirement for every technical editing position, although other skills vary by position.
I can accentuate my strengths through my own academic record. I will have at least 9 credits of experience as an undergraduate assistant editing transcribed interviews for grammatical accuracy. In addition, I will have at least 6 credits of Writing Intensive classes with several writing samples to share. My next step should be to create a business card indicating my aspiration for a technical communication role. Gershon adds that “Having a business card can indicate a person’s familiarity with the job search process” (1151). As I look for jobs and internships in this field, my business card should reveal my intended career.
To bolster my credentials, I should look for opportunities to edit in Associated Press (AP) style. This skill is demanded frequently. Meeting potential employers is next on my list after creating a business card. Gershon elaborates that “Networking now is often described as the way to get around both the ways applicant-tracking systems screen out applicants and the ways employers might not fully appreciate what a candidate has to offer from the too standardized application submitted” (1498–1500). In addition to perfecting my resume for online submissions, I should also prepare myself for recruiters.
Fischer, Kristen. “Breaking into Medical Writing and Editing.” Mediabistro, 26 Feb. 2016, www.mediabistro.com/be-inspired/career-transition/breaking-into-medical-writing-and-editing/.
Gershon, Ilana. Down and Out in the New Economy: How People Find (or Don’t Find) Work Today (Kindle Locations 1484–1486). University of Chicago Press. Kindle Edition.
Purdue OWL. “Welcome to the Purdue OWL.” Purdue OWL: Journalism and Journalistic Writing, owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/735/02/.
WritingAssist. “Technical Writer — Which Skill Sets are Important for a Technical Writer?” Writing Assistance, Inc., 5 June 2017, www.writingassist.com/resources/articles/which-skill-sets-are-important-for-a-technical-writer/.