Sherry Huang is currently a Features Editor at Parents.com. She graduated from Barnard College as an English major and pursued a career in web editing. With a top notch work ethic and a knack for networking and making connections throughout her career, Sherry proves that determination and a goal-oriented attitude can create a life of success. Follow her on twitter @Sherendipitea
What do you enjoy most about your job as a Features Editor?
One thing I enjoy most about my job as a Features Editor at Parents.com is that it entails more than just editing. Even though I’m responsible for editing full-length, web-original pieces, I am also responsible for brainstorming and pitching ideas, managing channel pages, overseeing bloggers, creating newsletters, and putting together content for aggregate pages.
Was this your dream job when you were in college?
Part of it was. When I graduated from college, I already knew I wanted to work as an editor — but for children’s picture books. My dream job at the time was to work for Scholastic, a publishing company I really admire, but despite several interviews for different imprints, it didn’t end up working out.
Was there a point in your career that was a particularly difficult time? If so, how did you overcome it?
There have been a few difficult moments, but the most consistently difficult one is when a writer is unhappy with my edits. I’ve had writers micromanage their edits – by editing my edits – and writers who write long emails about why they’re offended by changes. As an editor, you’re working with and managing a vast network of freelance writers, so it’s inevitable you’ll encounter one or two writers who don’t like seeing their work changed. Of course, you want writers to be happy and to feel like you’re helping them sound more polished, but the best thing to do is to compromise on the edits. I’ve published pieces that had a mix of the writer’s original sentences, my edits, and the writer’s edits. I’ve learned it’s always best to address the writer’s concerns as soon as I can, to not get defensive, and to pick my battles.
Where did you start out when you first entered the business?
When I realized book publishing wasn’t the path I was supposed to take, I decided to focus on finding editorial jobs in any field. By chance, I stumbled across a Craig’s List job posting for an Editorial Assistant at Beliefnet.com, a religion/spiritual news website. I was familiar with a little HTML, I had a religious background, and I was a fan of an author who actually worked there for a bit. After a few interviews and some editing/HTML tests, I was hired. The job ended up being a good fit because I realized I liked the quicker pace of web editing, and I was learning a lot in a unique and cohesive faith-based environment.
What are you most proud of?
I’m most proud of having a consistent and steady career, one that has helped develop me hone my editing skills and helped me develop my professional outlook. I’m also proud of my strong work ethic, which has helped me be a reliable part of an editorial team, which in turn has helped me make friends with a variety of editors I still keep in touch with, even though I no longer work with them. I’m also proud of a recent achievement – getting the opportunity to interview Martha Stewart. We’re both alumna from Barnard College, and I’m a huge fan of her lifestyle brand; it was really exciting to talk to her!
Who has impacted you most in your career and how?
There hasn’t been one particular person — a few people have impacted my career. They have been editors who I worked with through the years, some who have served as ad hoc mentors, giving me career advice and editorial guidance, and some who have served as professional role models to emulate at work.
Would you change anything you did in the past concerning your career?
Hmmm…one thing I wish I had changed was to work at more diverse places. I was at Beliefnet.com for about 6 years — a long time for a first job out of college — because I loved my coworkers more than aspects of my day-to-day responsibilities. I had applied for different jobs here-and-there, but nothing ever seemed like a better fit, so I stayed and eventually worked my way up the editorial ladder. Even though I did learn a lot being in a small work environment, I wish I had gotten a feel for and a stronger sense for how other companies were managed.
What is the best piece of advice you have for young women trying to find out who they are and what career they want?
During college, internships are vital for career exploration, so definitely connect with the school’s career center. Look at posted internships and make time to pursue ones that catch your eye to see what job responsibilities and work environments are a good fit. Recent college graduates should definitely keep in touch with the career center and find alums who work at interesting companies or have interesting career titles – it never hurts to reach out and request for informational interviews. Also, attend alum networking events or industry networking events to see where those interactions lead. Ed2010 and Mediabistro.com are also great resources for young women looking to break into the publishing industry (online, magazine, and book).
Disclaimer: All opinions and experiences expressed in this interview are personal and not representative of anyone else.