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Student Spotlights

Merlin Blanchard: Editing and Publishing

Merlin interned for BYU Research and Writing Center as a writing consultant during Winter Semester 2022.

Describe a day in your life as an intern.

Clock-in as I grab my name badge, find a table to sit at, and then quickly pull up my WC online to check if I have any student appointments. Then begins the rollercoaster-sometimes, when it was quiet, I had a chance to work on readings for learning about tutoring and grammar. But when I had appointments, it was all pistons pounding as I did my best to focus on their specific state as a writer, and see what I could do to help them see the potential they had brimming inside them

What industry/job specific skills did you learn?

I learned effective communication and mentoring when working with authors, along with gathering copy editing and substantive editing tools to better diagnose potential issues in a work.

What are three things that you learned from this experience that could be applied to other settings?

I learned a lot of patience. You need to allow the student the space to feel comfortable, and you also need to learn how to prioritize the most important things in the consultation. As such, it doesn't help to rush through everything to "fix" all the mistakes they may have made on their paper. If they learned something they'll take with them to the next paper they write, then the session was effective.

I also learned how to rely on my coworkers. Sometimes we get trapped in the need to be all-knowing and all-capable, but when I was working there I came to understand that sometimes we don't know enough, and in order to help the student we need to find someone who can provide a specific detail or tool that we don't have.

I also learned a key writing principle of cohesion: when you're writing a sentence, start with old information and end with new information. Not only does this tactic keep the reader interested, but it keeps them from getting confused.

What was your favorite part of your internship?

Working with students and the student admins!

How did this experience affect your future goals?

It's made me more certain of my back-up plan of being an editor. I'm now certain I'd be effective and that I'd enjoy it. It's also made me more cognizant of what effective and ineffective writing looks like--and it's not as clear-cut as we'd all like to think, which has changed how I look at writing forever.

How did you get your internship?

I applied to the Research and Writing Center in Fall Semester of 2021, during the application deadline. I found out about it through a friend, but there are posters placed around the HBLL around that time.

How did this experience contribute to your growth?

It's made me a better writer, a more understanding and compassionate editor, and it's enhanced my capacity to critically read and think as I study texts for my classes.