How a gathering of editors in Ohio sparked renewed career passion and unexpected life lessons
By Kelly Ehasz and Megan Wojcik
We were glowing. And we couldn’t cover it up if we wanted to. Colleagues even remarked on it. Our secret was out.
No, we hadn’t returned sun kissed and relaxed from a girls’ trip to the beach. We had actually just spent three days with 500 writers and editors in landlocked Columbus, Ohio, in March.
What we had was the “post-conference glow.”
It started with a Teams message: I’m thinking of going to the ACES editing conference in Columbus in March. Would you be interested in going, too?
With that, we started poking around the internet checking out everything ACES. A deep love of language? Check. Applicable real-world trainings? Check. A group of nerdy editors who get jokes that lament the missing period in Dr Pepper? We couldn’t be totally sure, but our instincts told us we would fit in.
As soon as we arrived in Columbus from our homes in Pittsburgh and entered the Hyatt Regency ballroom, we knew it was going to be a great few days. Why? Our conference gift was a reusable mug emblazoned with “Edit, Breathe, Hydrate, Repeat.” Yes, these people spoke our language.
We were all smiles upon arrival.
Professional development opportunities like ours don’t just happen. They take money and planning. Days off work are usually needed. The only reason we were able to attend the ACES conference was because DCG encouraged it.
Every year, DCG offers each employee a professional development benefit package that includes generous financial support and five paid working days.
So, we got to learn about maintaining a style guide, fact-checking, and editing for government clients. We got a behind-the-scenes look at AP Style from its editor, Paula Froke, and a sneak peek of the latest updates before they were posted online. We also met some incredible people from around the world (Canada was in the house!) who care as much about words as we do.
But taking advantage of DCG’s professional development benefit doesn’t always mean going big. DCG is pretty open-minded about what constitutes a professional development opportunity. In the past year, DCGers have taken online classes, participated in in-person learning sessions, and have used the benefit to purchase tools, books, software programs, and industry memberships to aid in developing subject matter expertise and to learn new skills.
A souvenir for the kids
So where does “whining” and the “yacht” come in? On the last night of the conference, we were treated to a keynote speech from Connie Schultz, Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist for USA Today and acclaimed author of several books.
She spoke about how editors have influenced her life and career. She shared one conversation between her and an editor that went something like this (Connie’s politician husband had just won a highly competitive race and she was writing about it):
Connie: I want to include information about what the other side did.
Editor: I don’t think it’s necessary.
Connie: But people need to know about this.
Editor: You won. Be happy. It’s over. No whining on the yacht.
As editors, we would’ve laughed about this and moved on. But we’re also mothers of teens. We pocketed that conference gem for future use at home. What a great comeback when our kids complain about, well, everything.
An experience worth sharing
For us, what happened in Columbus doesn’t stay in Columbus. We’re busy prepping a presentation for our colleagues about what we learned and why we would encourage anyone to take advantage of DCG’s professional development benefit.
Yes, it was a little hectic getting everything prepped―both at work and at home―for our absence. But it was worth it. We came back reinvigorated and reenergized. And glowing. No yacht necessary.