BA 2012: Double Major Creative Writing, Political Science
Work Term 1 (4 months):
Summer Teen Program Assistant, Burnaby Association for Community Inclusion (BACI)
Work Term 2 (12 months part time):
Journal Assistant, Canadian Literature
Work Term 3 (4 months):
Production Assistant, UBC Press
Work Term 4 (8 months):
Production and Editorial Assistant, Harbour Publishing
What did Stephen accomplish?
As a Summer Teen Program Assistant, Stephen worked with 2 colleagues to plan and run a two-month day camp for teenagers with mental disabilities including Autism and Down syndrome. This was the first time Stephen had to plan large-scale events and he developed the necessary skills to successfully execute events such as visits to the Vancouver Art Gallery, barbecues and park outings for the program. In addition, he learned how to relate to colleagues in difficult situations, take leadership and manage conflicts.
During his 8 month work term as a Journal Assistant, Stephen was responsible for organizing the administrative details and logistics for numerous poetry and book reviews. In addition, he had the opportunity to work with the editors to take on the task of proofreading two issues of the journal in their entirety, including articles, reviews and poetry. Through this work term Stephen got his “first crash course in proofreading and learning the details of citations.” He also worked independently and learned how to manage his time to complete all his tasks.
At the UBC Press, Stephen worked in the production department under the Production Editors. He was able to use the skills he gained through his previous work term in order to assist the Production Editors with tasks such as proofreading indexes and a book, as well as preparing manuscripts for Copy Editors. He was also responsible for compiling and checking corrections in proofs and distributing books in-house. He re-formatted and did a basic copy-edit of the manuscripts, ensuring the text was easy to work with and all images and tables were noted in the text for the designer. Stephen also had the opportunity to attend meetings where he learned more about academic publishing.
For his final work term, Stephen is working at Harbour Publishing. As part of the Production and Editorial team, Stephen has been able to use the skills he developed at UBC Press and is taking on more responsibilities. He is creating indexes as well as checking proofs and proof reading. He is also writing content for a book that is being published posthumously and is ordering, placing with the text and writing captions for archival images. Through this experience he is learning about the commercial and literary side of publishing where it is important to stay true to the press’ vision while remaining within budget. In addition, he has continued to learn the process of book production from acquisition to editing.
What would Stephen tell others about Arts Co-op?
Stephen says, “The work experience can help bring some clarity to all the what-ifs and maybes that students have about their future. In addition, co-op is a “great way to learn what it is like to work, relate to colleagues and supervisors and to gain transferable skills.” Through a variety of work terms “you will find out what kind of field you enjoy, what you don’t like and you will get a host of experience to take with you wherever you go.”
How did Arts Co-op benefit Stephen?
Building Skills through Stepping Stones
Stephen is pursuing a double major in Political Science and Creative Writing and feels that his courses in Political Science will inform his writing and will be an asset if he works for an academic press. Once Stephen decided publishing was a good fit, he was persistent in gaining experience in this industry to try it out, and successfully obtained co-op positions with the UBC Press and Harbour Publishing. Through co-op, Stephen has gained “contacts, references and a resume with good accomplishments in the field of publishing that will show [his] experiences” to future employers.
Workplace Experience for a Head Start
Through Co-op, Stephen has developed two different sets of skills. The first set includes “more intangible skills such as learning what an 8 hour day is like, how to be disciplined to get work done, learning how the publishing industry works and making contacts.” The second set includes skills that he has developed through hands on experience and include practical skills “which one doesn’t really learn in university, such as proof reading, indexing, the process of book production and the differences between academic and trade publishing.” His experiences and skills will no doubt benefit him as he pursues a career in publishing or freelancing in the future.