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How do I Become an Editorial Assistant?

G. Melanson
G. Melanson

Whether you want to become an editorial assistant with a newspaper, magazine, or online publication, the combination of education, ambition, and networking can go a long way toward achieving this goal. While an individual might become an editorial assistant through just one of these pursuits alone, you’ll have a better chance at standing out from the competition if you’re fully-equipped with the right education, the ambition to get a foot in the door, and a wide array of contacts in the publishing field.

Most post-secondary journalism programs teach students a wide range of the tools and skills often used in the full spectrum of journalism, including interviewing, editing, fact-checking, layout, and photography. Although some of these skills may not be required in order to become an editorial assistant specifically, a job candidate with a keen grasp of how an editorial team works has an advantage in the job market over a candidate with just editing skills alone. The full spectrum of tools taught in a journalism program can help you land an offer to become an editorial assistant, as well as provide you with an advantage in climbing the newsroom ladder to become a section editor or editor-in-chief.

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Woman posing

Among the many advantages of studying journalism in your goal to become an editorial assistant is the contacts that such a program provides. Most journalism professors or instructors have experience writing for a wide variety of publications and can provide valuable references or offer insight into what it’s like working in a particular newsroom. Although journalism students often face competition with one another for jobs in their field, they can also establish a collaborative approach by using social networking tools and joining online groups to swap leads and learn from one another’s job hunting experiences.

In addition to networking with other journalism students, networking with already-established journalists and freelance writers also assists with making contacts that can help you become an editorial assistant. You can join your local writers federation or association of journalists to keep up on the latest industry news and meet others in your field. In addition to being a networking opportunity, independent writers groups also provide the chance to hone your editorial skills by regularly proofreading the writing of others. If you’re a recent journalism graduate or otherwise lack experience in the editorial field, an internship or volunteer opportunity with a publication can also help in your endeavor to become an editorial assistant. A job candidate with at least some experience in the field, whether paid or unpaid, has an advantage over another recent-graduate with no professional experience at all.

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