conference session | informational posters
back in DC | conference hotel
Finally I found my own community though! And crossed off an item on my 30 before 30 list for the first time: attend a conference to develop my job skills. This week I went to a conference run by the International Society for Managing and Technical Editors in Washington DC. Usually when I travel for work, I'm attending board meetings or conferences for the academic societies that put out the journals I manage, so I spend my time going to meetings to discuss journal performance or plans. This time, I actually got to attend conference sessions, learn things that develop my professional skills, and be with people who share my expertise, rather than with a bunch of professors who are experts in things (e.g. international business) I know not much about.
I came back with new knowledge of best practices, ideas for the social media we use to promote the journals and connect with our authors/readers, and even better, an excitement about my work as a career, rather than just a job. Because even though I now know it's a job from which a person can make a living (and that I really enjoy doing), I've not thought about it as a career. Now I realize that there are people who do grow and make a career of it, and that I can develop further, that there are even bigger journals I could aspire to (such as I met one of the managing editors for the New England Journal of Medicine... they are big time and get about a zillion submissions per year). And it was so validating to realize I have important expertise and skills to offer to and improve my journals, even though I don't have a PhD on the subject matter.
It was also great to meet a range of people who manage other journals - including people close to my age (I've never worked with people close to my age; many of the professors I work with are in fact twice my age). Even before I worked from home, my job was quite solitary, as I'm the only one in charge of running my journals. So to find my own community and talk to people who understand my work and share similar enjoyments and frustrations with it was so great. (Oh, and as for what I wore to finally meet other managing editors: of course my striped dress, proving again that it's perfect for every occasion; also, after the positive comments on my new free glasses, I brought them along - handy for seeing Powerpoint presentations better, and looking smart!)
Managing editor wear: Land's End Canvas dress & JCrew necklace | Loft cardigan & blouse and Firmoo glasses
How about you - how did you happen upon what you do? Do you see it as a job or as a career? And how are you developing your own professional skills?
*What it means: I do edit accepted papers and other things like newsletters and promotional materials, but much of my job is the managing part - I manage, from article submission to publication, two academic journals to which international business/marketing professors submit research papers; the articles get sent to other professors for review, and an Editor-in-Chief (another professor) decides what gets accepted for publication and what gets rejected. So my job is to coordinate the whole peer review and publication process, from checking over submitted articles; to pestering reviewers and editors to complete their tasks on time; to working with the publisher on finalizing article formatting and details, filling issues, and signing off on final proofs before publication; to answering lots and lots of emails, acting as the central communication point for authors, reviewers, editors, publisher, and academic society that owns the journal. And a bunch of other stuff involved in publishing a journal, but that's the basic gist.
See why it's easier to just say I'm an editor and let people assume I just copy edit books with a red pen all day? (Though I do do some of that, on a freelance basis...)