By: Meg Gildehaus –
In the fall of 2010, Anna Gilligan (’14) stepped onto campus at Rocky Mountain College fresh from Dubuque, Iowa. Four years later she found herself, fresh again, working as a copy editor for the Rapid City Journal, a daily newspaper in Rapid City, S. D. Gilligan’s hire is noteworthy because, “Only 24.4 percent of college students who apply for jobs can expect to have a job ready for them upon graduation”, said Sandy Florez, a journalism and English literature senior at the University of Miami, in an article specifically regarding the job market for journalism graduates.
Upon graduation, Gilligan did not have her editing job. She went home and worked a temp job for a month at McGraw Hill, which Gilligan explained as “a publishing company that produces a lot of customized textbooks,” while applying to any available jobs. Gilligan said, “I was open to going anywhere. I applied for jobs from Alaska to New York City.”
Twenty-two years old and thrilled about her new employment, Gilligan shed light on her journey to and through Rocky that eventually led her to work as an editor. She says, “I wanted to go to school somewhere out west and Rocky and Carroll were the two that I narrowed it down to. I came out and visited both, and I decided on Rocky.”
Explaining her choice to be an English major, Gilligan explained, “I told people I either wanted to major in physics or creative writing. I realized physics was a lot harder than I thought it was! So I decided on English.”
She said, “When you are an English major, people always ask, ‘What are you going to do with that degree?’ and towards the end of my sophomore year, I realized I loved grammar and I’ve always been good at it. So my answer to that question became, ‘I want to be a copy editor.’”
Today, copyediting is exactly what Gilligan is doing. Her job consists of completing the readthrough of her assigned stories before they go to print. She says, “All the stories are put into a program, then we take all the content from this program, and put it on the actual pages. We collaborate with the design center to make sure all the headlines fit and that everything that’s supposed to be on the page is there. “
Gilligan’s Rocky experiences that helped prepare her for her copyediting job included blogging for admissions, editing and writing for The Summit, and editing Sun and Sandstone, a literary journal published on campus.
One unconventional experience that particularly impacted Gilligan’s preparation for applying to her copyediting job? Taking Professor David Crisp’s journalism class…twice.
Light hesitation lingered in Gilligan’s voice as she explained, “So, I failed journalism class the first time I took it. It’s not because I wasn’t good at it; it’s because I am really bad at writing things on deadline. I did well on the quizzes and the articles that I did write, but there weren’t too many of them.”
She continued explaining, “The next fall, I took it again, and through taking it twice, AP style was really drilled into my head. While I was applying for my job, I had to take an eight-page AP style test. The exercises on the test were the same kind of exercises that we did in class. Being in Professor David Crisp’s class twice really prepared me for work, and I did very well.”
Contrary to the popular belief that failing a class is a negative thing, Gilligan said the twice-taken class truly benefitted her in the end. She says, “Honestly, it’s probably the reason why I got the job.”