Making the most of the ACES conference

March 12, 2012|By John E. McIntyre | The Baltimore Sun

A month from now, editors will be converging on New Orleans for the sixteenth national conference of the American Copy Editors Society. If you have been before, you know what to expect. But if this conference is your first, let me offer some advice.

As alluring as the fleshpots of New Orleans may be, you can expect that most of your colleagues will conform to the dorkish stereotype of our craft and actually attend the sessions. This doesn't mean that you should forgo cafe au lait and beignets at the Cafe du Monde, but you should study the schedule carefully to see what sessions most interest you, and check out the buzz when you arrive. There will be a lot of learning to carry home.

As a newbie, particularly if you are a student, you may be tempted to hang back. This is a mistake. Some of the ablest editors in the country will be on hand, and this is an opportunity to make yourself known to them, particularly if you imagine that you might ever want a job. Don't be shy about asking questions during sessions or buttonholing presenters and participants afterward.They will be flattered by your attention and eager to be of help.

Find people to go to lunch with. It may be tempting to stick with people you already know, if any, but lunch is one more occasion to meet people and talk.

On no account should you neglect the bar. When the grizzled veterans gather for the glass that cheers and the exchange of war stories, they will appreciate an audience. And the stories are worth hearing. 

ACES conferences are invaluable for professional development. You should understand that even veterans learn things by attending, particularly now that the entire craft is in flux. There is no single place where you will be able to learn as much about it in three days as at these conferences.

But these conferences are also vital for morale, for those of us whose work is solitary, or unrecognized, or outright scorned by the higher powers. You will be among your colleagues, your people, your tribe. You will not be alone.

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