On Completing My Internship at The Editing Company

by Mehreen Shahid, TEC Intern

Published at 2013-05-20

The Cold Call

As a college lecturer in Pakistan, I had never been reduced to making cold calls. As a newcomer to Canada, however, things were entirely different, and I had to turn to this very undesirable method of finding my way around the professional world. And with relief and some happiness I confess that cold calls are not all that bad. Or maybe it is the Canadian tendency to be supremely polite and helpful that makes it so.


The cold call that changed it all for me happened in January 2013. A simple Google search gave me my victim’s name: The Editing Company (TEC), Toronto. I quickly mapped the address to see how far it is from George Brown (where I am currently taking editing courses), then took a deep breath and dialled the number. I was able to get hold of Beth McAuley, owner and senior editor at TEC. Hesitantly, I introduced myself, “I’m a student of editing at George Brown College, and I was wondering if you were in need of an intern or help in general around the office.” Beth didn’t hire me over the phone, as I had hoped for, but there was something in her voice that invited me to go on. I asked if I could drop in with a copy of my résumé and samples of my work, and Beth very generously encouraged me to do so.


Persist Until They Desist

Taking Beth’s invitation to heart, I asked her what would be a good time for me to come by. On the decided day I dressed in what I considered impressive attire, little did I know that slush-filled streets and biting icy winds would leave me no choice but to wrap myself up in unimpressive parkas and scarves. Fortunately, Beth isn’t the kind to be impressed by appearances. Quality of work, performance, and dedication are more worthy of her attention. Moreover, persistence, as I was to find out later, was a crucial factor in helping me obtain this internship.


The Inaugural Intern

My pestering phone calls to Beth, after I had submitted my résumé, compelled her to hold a meeting with her colleagues. As everyone at TEC (kindly) agreed, it was time to hire an intern. Money wasn’t my main concern (although an honorarium was attached to the completion of the three-month period), editorial experience was, and there was a lot to be learned at TEC. The day Beth contacted me to inform me that I was going to be the first-ever intern at TEC was indeed a marvellous day for me. A quick contract was drawn up and emailed to me; I signed it and brought it in with me on my first day at work.


My Time at TEC

From the first task that Beth assigned to me, a blog entry for TEC’s blog series Creative Women Doing Sixty, I knew I was in for a treat. The experience of researching for the blog entry and learning through the research was enriching. As promised, Beth gave me a taste of every facet of the book editing business. The next week I found myself perusing the Chicago Manual of Style for guidance on how to tackle footnotes and bibliography. The week after that I was enchanted while proofreading chapters of a most captivating memoir.


I learned important lessons about editing while maintaining the style of the author and how as a copy editor I must always resist the urge to rewrite. I contributed some more to the Creative Women Doing Sixty blog by writing a book review of Jan Wong’s Out of the Blue. Beth’s expertise and considerate guidance helped me better my writing. She also educated me on how to organize my time and resources as a copy editor. Taking cues from her encouragement, I jumped at the opportunity to write another blog entry for TEC when Rita MacNeil passed away.


Nina, TEC’s experienced indexer, educated me on how to approach the subject and what it was all about. Jessica always gave me effective advice on how to get the most out of the Chicago Manual of Style. Avery gave me insight on how to tackle compendiums. There was always something to learn from one of my colleagues.


The Young Are Leaving the Nest

The confidence that Beth expressed in my abilities throughout my internship boosted my drive to do better. I was able to use my experience at TEC to acquire an job opportunity with Colborne Communications/Iguana Books.


Many wonders of the writing world were revealed to me as an intern at TEC. I leave the team with a grateful heart and hope that the professional bond developed over the last three months will lead to mutually beneficial collaborations in the future.