Interview 13: April Lim

Years editing: 5 years
Job title: Technical editor
Job description: Edits technical engineering reports and proposal responses
Location: Texas

EXPERIENCE

How did you get your current job?
I was fortunate enough to land my current job immediately after graduating with my B.A. I found the position on LinkedIn.

What copyediting training have you had?
I got started in editing as an undergraduate writing consultant at the University of Houston’s Writing Center. From there, I freelanced as a copywriter for a little over a year before I decided freelancing was not my forte. I also interned with a public relations firm, researching and editing for clients.

DOING THE JOB

Are there any complementary skills that are important in your job?
Working as a technical editor means having to focus on solely editing. Being a subject-matter expert would actually hinder my ability to edit a document, because I am supposed to be reading from the viewpoint of the common person. I act as a translator for the company’s nontechnical clients. 

I also have to edit fast. Documents that are required to start a project will have a quick turnaround time of 24-48 hours. A document that is submitted after a project is complete will have a turnaround time of 72 hours.

Do you use any editing tools to get the job done (e.g., PerfectIt, Adobe stamps)? 
Nothing fancy. I use Word and Adobe Acrobat for my daily tasks.

COMMUNICATING WITH OTHERS

How do you and your colleagues talk about editing with each other?
I currently work with five other editors to split the workload received daily. Using Webex Teams, we communicate multiple times a day, sometimes for fun and sometimes to discuss editing. We’re all in agreement about using the Oxford comma. 

Do you participate in a community (or communities) that supports editors?
The most useful resource I have found for editors has been ACES: The Society for Editing.

Do you have any thoughts on the need for editors to network and talk about what they do?
I believe that networking can never hurt me when trying to advance my career. People want to hire people they know, so that there’s a sense of trust. I won’t push my work onto people, but I won’t stray away from speaking about it if asked.

BUILDING DIVERSITY

How diverse is your office? 
My company is mainly male dominated, as it is an IT company; however, I am very fortunate to work with a strong team of women. My team was not diverse in race when I joined, but as our company has expanded and our office locations grew, we have been becoming more racially diverse. 

Have you faced any hurdles in getting into/advancing in the copyediting profession because you are a person of color? (These can be systemic, personal, environmental.) Or have you observed such barriers for others?
My father told me that he specifically gave me an “American” name so that I would never be discriminated against in a job search because of my name. I wish I could say that he was being overprotective, but I have seen other writers’ and editors’ resumes be pushed aside if their first names were “difficult” to pronounce for certain tongues. It is no surprise that often these names belong to POC individuals and act as another hurdle in the editing industry.

Any suggestions on what offices/employers could do to increase diversity in your field of editing?
Most technical editing positions require a certain amount of experience in technical work to even apply, but rarely are entry-level positions available. Employers should recognize that an editor does not need a niche area of editing to edit certain materials. There’s a learning curve in editing that gets easier the more experience one has in general in the editing industry. If employers could recognize this, then their hiring pool would expand immensely.

THE PERSONAL

Tell us about a project that you’re proud of.
Unfortunately, my work isn’t necessarily the type to boast about. I do very mundane tasks in an efficient manner until 5 p.m. (and sometimes later). I do enjoy helping others with personal statements for graduate school applications, but I haven’t had much time lately due to an influx of work tasks.

Any hobbies you’d like to share with us?
I enjoy reading and writing poetry. Occasionally, I’ll buy five or so more books to add to my stack of books that I’ve been “meaning to read.”

RESOURCES

What resources would you share with fellow editors?
LinkedIn’s Lynda.com has great Word video tutorials for editing and then some. Microsoft Word has so many tips and tricks that are waiting to be unlocked. I’ve learned to customize my Word layout to my editing style to make work easier.

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