A liberal, left-wing vegetarian shouldn’t, in theory, find herself fitting in at a publisher which deals primarily with shooting magazines. Even though I didn’t discover the urge to go and shoot some pigeons or pick up a .22, I learnt a lot and found myself really enjoying the editing process of work experience, as opposed to the writing and reporting.
My only knowledge of shooting was through Girl Guide camp in 2006 and watching Bowling for Columbine. Yet, despite a lack of previous knowledge about the sport, I did read through a lot of articles that did spark my interest; playing military simulations while at university, whether you should take your girlfriend with you on a shooting safari, and the best way to educate children about the safe use of firearms. Considering last week’s tragic news about the school shooting in the US, it was actually more relevant and interesting than I expected it to be.
Strangely enough, working for a niche magazine publisher gave me a lot of useful experience. I wasn’t expecting a lot; my previous time with a book publisher left me feeling completely out of my depth. However, with 2 years of InDesign and editing experience under my belt, I felt much more at ease in this office.
The main thing I did was subbing copy, which meant I quickly had to get to grips with a new style guide. Having done work with a few other publications before, it’s always interesting to see how the style differentiates from one to the next.
I also learnt how to properly sub-edit a piece of text, which involved learning the proper subbing ‘code’ – lots of lines, dots and squiggles that mean something needs to be changed within a given piece of text.
Some of the copy was first or second revisions from InDesign, and others involved sculpting (and writing) some of the raw copy, including adding magazine ‘furniture’ – directions for the design team in order to put the page together.
The obvious barrier was my lack of knowledge of shooting. However, by the end of the week I could tell you when the best time of year to shoot deer is, and what MilSim means (military simulation, if you were wondering). It’s a start. All experience is good experience.
All in all, my placement was highly beneficial. I really felt like part of the team for the week, doing subbing and making edits that would actually be useful to the publications rather than just making tea (though, of course, I was alright at that too). It was a great chance to put my skills that I’d learnt through my students’ newspaper to use, and I’ve come out with a bulky line for my CV about subbing for national publications!
So don’t dismiss the idea of doing a work experience placement outside of your comfort zone, you just might find you learn a lot.
Oh and here’s another useful tip I learnt: cupcakes on a Friday afternoon go down a treat – here’s hoping they’ll remember me!
Orginally posted 18 December 2012 on Wannabe Hacks.
Have you done a work experience placement somewhere completely out of your comfort zone? What did you learn? Let us know in the comments or tweet us @wannabehacks.