|Flickr's NS Newsflash|
For the past three months I have lived in Lake Charles, Louisiana (flat, oh my Lord, how flat) and worked at The American Press, a daily newspaper serving six parishes (they call them parishes here, not counties). My title is "copy editor," which can be a little misleading since many of us associate copy editing with proofreading, assuring the writing is competent, and maintaining Associated Press or the publication's personal style. (For example, did you know that in AP style MLK Day is written out without a comma before "Jr."? The things you learn.) But what I really do is pagination, which means I help put together the layout of the following day's publication by pulling articles and photos onto the page, making sure everything is feng shui and mistake-free. Sounds easy, and sometimes it is, but you really have to dig paying attention to detail in order to enjoy it when things stop cooperating. Like when you need the article you're working with to be just a couple of picas longer to fill up the space. (A pica is .1667 of an inch--can you handle all the knowledge I'm dropping?)
So far the job has been great. I'm learning a lot about InDesign, recent AP style changes, how to tone photos, and I get along with my coworkers. Huge relief, right? Everything has been working out--almost everything.
Of course, this being my first real job, I am going to make mistakes, sometimes really stupid mistakes. Sometimes I'll ask for help on something and realize as soon as someone helps me that the problem was very easy to fix and had I resisted panic to spend more time figuring it out, I wouldn't have had to ask for help. Yeah, you shouldn't do that. I would recommend that you exhaust all your own knowledge on something at work before asking for help. Because when you do ask for help you can avoid saying "Oh. I'm an idiot...Thanks."
You know what else you shouldn't do at your first real job? Cry in front of your boss. I had made a huge mistake on a page that was my responsibility due to a miscommunication, and evidently the guilt and shame got the better of me when I turned myself in. In my defense, we had been having trouble with this page, the obituaries page, for a few weeks, but it didn't help that I cry at the drop of a hat. So there I was, trying to explain what happened, when the sobs came bursting out. I could feel myself fighting the "ugly cry face" and kept choking/whimpering out phrases like "just ignore this" and "I'm not even that upset" to my boss. Once I got it together, my concerned boss kept asking me for the rest of the day if I was all right ("Swell, boss, I'm just going to lie in a pit of embarrassment over here if you need me.")
Everything ended up being okay, but that was definitely the lowest plateau of my first real job...so far, anyway.