Want my job? with Content Editor Mary McGowan

Mary McGowan discusses her work as an editor for publishing departments within tech and law companies.  

Want my job? with Content Editor Mary McGowan

Could you first introduce yourself to the reader? 

I am a content editor for a legal publishing company.

What does your role as a content editor involve? Give us the typical outline of a day? 

My role involves a lot of hands-on work with authors, who are usually practising lawyers in a particular field. I work on weekly legal newsletters, so a lot of my time goes into planning and scheduling content. I edit articles daily; this involves looking at clarity and fact-checking, as well as correcting any typos. Many of the authors I work with are not native English speakers, so there is a certain degree of ghost writing as well. I also support authors by producing article templates or coming up with topic suggestions based on my research of what is trending or any new legal developments. 

What are the bits you don’t like or find challenging? 

Because the newsletters I work on publish weekly, there are a lot of tight deadlines, which can be difficult to manage when working with busy lawyers. Every publishing job I’ve worked in has been different in terms of the pace at which editors are required to work – this one is particularly speedy!

What are the highlights of your editing career to date? 

I think I’ll always remember seeing the first publication I edited in print – and the nerve-wracking moment of sending it to the printers!

What was your path into your job in editing? 

I have always been interested in publishing – I even volunteered to create my school magazine! When I went to university, I got involved with a multilingual magazine society, first as a writer and then as an editor. I also did a couple of media-related volunteer placements. I became chair of the magazine society in my final year at university, which was a really valuable experience. That led me to my first full-time job as a language support editor for a tech publishing company.

Do you have any advice for young people interested in pursuing their own editing career?

Get some work experience – publishing is a popular career at entry level, so it’s helpful to have something interesting on your CV. If you have been involved in publishing something in print, bring that along with you to an interview. It’s great to be able to show off something you’re proud of and can help you to really highlight your skills.

Also, think outside of the box – lots of people think that publishing is just about novels and magazines, but there are a whole range of different industries that require publishing skills. It’s worth exploring the job market to see the range of opportunities available.

Header Image Credit: Mary McGowan


Claire Jenns

Claire Jenns Kickstart Team

English Literature graduate, loves reading, writing and travel.

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