Building our careers is all about taking chances, which is exactly what Embark editor Rachel McCabe did when she applied for an internship with Agency client Science Connected.
In this post, Rachel shares the three key lessons she's learned during the past four months on the GotScience.org editorial team.
LIKE MANY OTHERS, I applied for a copyediting position at Embark to get some experience and fine tune my editing skills. I was completely new to the “real” editing world and needed some serious resume material! I enjoyed the variety of assignments I had the opportunity to work on, and each assignment taught me something new about the finer points of copyediting (or, admittedly, uncovered tidbits of information that I’d learned during copyediting courses but later filed in some overcrowded part of my brain).
When I found out that Embark was offering an editing internship with Science Connected to work on its digital publication, GotScience.org, I pounced on the chance to learn even more and see another side of professional copyediting. Although I’d never declared myself a science nerd, I thought, Why not? It’s all “just editing,” right?
Now, nearly four months into my internship, I am so happy with my decision to join the GotScience team. Not only have I learned that I actually enjoy many, many aspects of science (major bonus!), I’ve also learned some invaluable lessons along the way.
Lesson #1: Unpaid Internships are Invaluable
There’s no shame in being an unpaid intern—even as a thirty-something mother and spouse. If there’s something you want to learn and seriously pursue in life, no position or task is too small. Internships aren’t necessarily limited to college students with the best stapler-handling skills; a foot in the door at any point in life is better than being locked out. With GotScience.org, I’ve learned how to directly interact with authors, own my editorial decisions, and make meaningful contributions to exciting, interesting work. These are all real skills and experiences that have already made me a stronger copy editor.
Lesson #2: Asking for Help Sharpens Skills
Having confidence in yourself is crucial, but it’s also important to be humble and ask for advice. When I first started my internship, I doubted many of the choices I made because I knew I’d have someone reviewing my work and spotting my mistakes. For some reason that I still can’t fully explain, the review process made me nervous—and it made me shy away from putting as many marks on a document as I knew there needed to be.
Nobody particularly enjoys feedback that however nicely and respectfully points out the errors you know you should not be making! But I finally started asking more questions and discussing editorial choices. Gradually, I realized that I had the tools and the knowledge to trust my gut (and the style guides), and I became more and more comfortable with being bold enough to fully edit a piece. This is not to say I no longer ask questions or reach out for guidance (because I still do and imagine I will for the rest of time), but I understand and appreciate the balance between acknowledging when I need help or input and owning what I know. Talk about professional empowerment!
Lesson #3: Exciting Discoveries Await
I’ve learned that an editing internship leads to some pretty cool, unexpected projects! From book reviews to personal accounts of big events to summaries of scientific studies, you never know what you might be working on next. I’ve enjoyed opening my email or taking a phone call to learn about an opportunity to tackle something new and fresh, and I hope that is something I enjoy as long as I am working in this field. Even if you have to go out and find the work yourself, there are so many unique projects in need of editing!
As I write this post and reflect on my time with Science Connected, I find myself feeling so proud of and grateful for all the projects I’ve been able to contribute to. With each new piece I take on, I grow as an editor and learn more about myself (and science!). Maybe this internship isn’t “just” editing after all.