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"Passion for English" Careers

Copy Editor

Bethany Lasko
The Eagle Times
Claremont, NH

January 2009 - As an English major, I graduated from college full of hopes for that little piece of paper slipped between the black leather binding. The last two months of school had seen far too many applications for positions, and in the months to come Monster and became my only reason to get online.

Home was different. Summer wasn't just one more stretch of time before I went back to school, back to being completely independent, and I'm not quite sure if there's a way to explain. It was just different. I went back to work at my local hospital, in a position I had kept throughout college, and continued my search for a position. One of the nurses in the emergency room had a friend who worked for a publishing house in New York City, and because of the relationship I had with her, my resume found its way to the big city, on top of the piles and piles of other resumes from recent grads. Two weeks later, I got an email and a request to come down for an interview with a company by the name of Simon and Schuster Publishing. I bought a new suit, made copies of my resume, and put a binder of my work together, should anyone wish to see it.

That job didn't pan out, nor did the seven or eight interviews after it. I didn't have the right experience, and nobody was willing to take a chance and give it to me. So I unpacked my college stuff and found extra room in my parents' basement. I hung my suit up, ready for the next interview, and kept my eyes peeled.

Newspapers, magazines, internet job sites, I did everything I could think of to find my place.

A year went by. I worked at the hospital in the mean time, helped out at home. And then I found a posting for a copy editor at my local newspaper. Tired of writing the usual cover letter, I took a chance, and styled my letter like a newspaper article. I included a photo, gave it a headline ("Local woman seeks employment from newspaper"), and sent it on its way. That was a Friday at 10 a.m. Three hours later, I had an email and an interview for Tuesday. Wednesday, I had the job.

I fibbed. A month into the job, I can admit that. The job called for experience using a program, and I fibbed and said I had used it before. Truth was, I had not. But I was so tired of not being given a chance. So I took one. I got lucky, and the program was not hard to learn. Within a day, I had the basics understood, and within a week I was designing my own pages. As a copy-editor, it's my job to read and correct every article written by our reporters. With our newspaper being as small as it is, that isn't so difficult. It is also my job to paginate. I design the pages of the newspaper, I decide where the stories go, where the photos go, and, the best part, which stories make it to the paper. Only one month in, I haven't yet designed page one, but I understood from the get-go that eventually I will.

It's wonderful, really, not only to have a job during and after this financial crisis running our country, but a job that I like and that I do well. But it has made me realize that I'm not done with school yet. That first summer, I almost hated my degree. I blamed it for me not having a job, and I worried that it wasn't enough. Almost that it was a joke, to have graduated without a specific field in mind, with this one slip of paper stuck in a black leather binding. I will go back to school, because the pay scale for having only a Bachelor of Arts in English is not as high as I feel I deserve. I'm smarter than that, and I have more capacity to learn.

But, I have a job. I have a good job, one that I have trained for four years for. I enjoy what I do, and I am glad that I had the opportunity; I'm glad I took a chance.