A New Career in Communication

Editing graduate Megan Rupert pivots her skills post-pandemic

A career in the trades renovating homes, to a new one as a speech pathologist, and then to work in editing. That's been Megan Rupert’s career journey. The commonality is that each requires strong communication skills and attention to detail.

“I had a pivotal experience working on an old farmhouse renovation where the owner was a speech language pathologist (SLP),” Megan recounts. “I was really taken with what she was doing—helping people from all ages, backgrounds and disabilities communicate—and it made an everlasting impression on me. Six years later, I decided to study communication disorders at the University of Vermont (UVM), specifically because of that experience.”

After graduating with a bachelor’s degree, Megan began to work as a speech language therapist in public schools, and soon discovered the need for editing chops for her day-to-day work.

“I learned by sink or swim how to navigate data collection and client performance platforms—all of which required careful documentation and editing for accuracy.

“A few years later, I was accepted into UVM’s graduate program for communication sciences and disorders, which is where my writing and editing skills really began to take shape.”

The Joy in Writing and Editing… Reports

For her almost two-decades-long career in speech language pathology, Megan’s job activities were based in therapeutic communication and editing client evaluations.

“UVM’s communication science department had very rigorous writing demands—not only in our research fellowships, but also in the client evaluation reports we produced for the speech, language and hearing center where we were required to start our clinical training,” Megan says. “I didn’t know it at the time, but the constant rejections and requests for edits and revisions that seemed excessive actually turned me into a highly trained scientific writer!”

Megan’s job and career achievements had kept her satisfied in the field of speech pathology, but as time went on, she was less immune to thoughts of another career change in the future.

“I had been working in a variety of settings such as clinics, public schools and hospitals as an SLP for about 20 years, taking some small breaks for other pursuits and having kids, when I started to experience burn-out,” she admits.

“But I still really loved the process of writing lengthy evaluation reports—something that baffled most of my colleagues who wished writing were less of a daily requirement!” Megan divulges. “I started to imagine the next move in my career and wondered how I could spend my entire days reading and writing for an actual job. I kept coming back to the idea of editing, and when COVID-19 forced me to leave my job to homeschool my kids, I decided to make the change.”

Motivated to Learn

“As a teen I had dreamed of going to UC Berkeley, something that wasn’t an option for me to pursue as a first-generation college student living on the East Coast,” she tells me. “But in the paradigm shift of life as we knew it during the pandemic, I wondered if there was a remote learning program I could consider.

“After contemplating a possible second master’s degree and exploring UC Berkeley’s writing department, the campus informed me of your editing program. I had some really helpful back-and-forth correspondences with your student services team who really reinforced how the Professional Sequence in Editing would augment my skill set and complement the master's degree I already held. I thought this was a brilliant idea, and I promptly enrolled.”

Under direction from one of her instructors, Megan began freelance copyediting not long after starting the program.

“I started by offering free ‘light editing’ to friends for low-stakes projects they had at work, something an instructor essentially encouraged us to consider,” she says.

“That was really excellent advice. The exercises we were doing for coursework were very practical and relevant, but adding extracurricular practice with actual projects was really valuable not only for my confidence, but also for the scope of my experience. By the time I was done with the program, I was able to take myself more seriously with public-facing text and was much more prepared to bill for my services.”

The courses’ online exercises, discussions and assignments were also reflective of what Megan needed to succeed in her freelance editing. Coupled with her work history in teaching oral and written communication in diverse settings, she felt prepared in her new career path.

“The online courses in the editing sequence were well-organized, comprehensive and very representative of the kinds of projects I first encountered—and continue to encounter—in my daily work,” agrees Megan.

“Every one of the UC Berkeley Extension courses I took provided really valuable content, and the conversations among peers and instructors in our discussion forums were a huge asset to the online format—those regularly scheduled chats, both live and ongoing, should be used as an extra resource to take advantage of as much as possible by students. I saved many of them and actually referenced them later when I set out to begin freelancing.

Editorial Workshop I: Introduction to Copyediting and Editorial Workshop II: Intermediate Copyediting probably made the biggest impact on my current career path because specific skills—like how to create project-specific style sheets, the distinction between different levels of editing and how to write effective queries—were explicitly taught to us,” she continues.

Anne Hill, the instructor for Editorial Workshop I, was particularly skilled at bringing a sense of community to the online platform, was tirelessly available, and had passed along so much of her knowledge and advice that, without a doubt, helped me make this career change.”



Megan also followed the advice of our instructors to network and build a peer group by joining the Editorial Freelancers Association (EFA) and ACES: The Society for Editing.

“I attended webinars hosted by the EFA and bought several of their publications written for beginning freelance editors,” she says. “Having those additional tools and making connections within those groups also really helped prepare me to make this a successful career.”

Qualified in Various Industries

In 2021, Megan completed the program, and the following year formed Megan Estelle Rupert, Copyediting and Writing, LLC. She credits our Professional Sequence in Editing and the skills she gained for feeling qualified to start her own editing business.

“The professional sequence gave me credibility, a skill set that I had not previously known and, with the recommendations and guidance from the instructors, a clear path to follow,” Megan asserts.

“The writing skills that I developed in grad school were ultimately fortified by this program; I finished feeling like I was as much of a writer as I was an editor—and I felt very excited about the prospect of pursuing both positions in the world, particularly in STEM publications, which is what I wanted to seek.”

Those fortified skills led Megan to her current position as a tech writer with BETA Technologies.

“BETA Technologies is a leading—and incredibly impressive—electric aerospace company that was founded in 2017 and is based in Vermont,” Megan says. “They are building zero-emission, battery-powered aircraft and propulsion systems, and a multimodal charging infrastructure that will help decarbonize the transportation industry. I feel very lucky to be working with accomplished colleagues with backgrounds from places like The New York Times, Federal Aviation Administration, Boeing and General Electric.”

Lucky, perhaps, but she’s not out of place.

“The high-level of training we were given in the sequence in ‘heavy editing’ and how to effectively develop and rewrite content with an author or subject matter expert (SME) qualified me for my role as a tech writer,” she lauds. “In addition to the professional library I acquired during the program, our practice with collaborative software and the encouragement to become proficient in other industry-standard software was invaluable.”

As Megan continues to utilize her communication background in her work, her career growth now focuses on improving her writing by incorporating what she knows about editing. “My current position requires interviews, research and careful documentation with SMEs, so my goals related to that are to continue to mature the concision and accuracy of my writing.”

And that means keeping professional growth and lifelong learning top of mind.

“I’d always welcome the chance to take more courses with UC Berkeley Extension,” she says. “Anything that can open new ideas and ways of thinking will always spark my interest.”

When asked about any advice she has for others considering a move to editing, Megan replies, “I would encourage anyone looking for a career change to consider this program, not only because of the flexibility it allows while finishing or simultaneously working at another job, but also because of the reputation it has.

“UC Berkeley has the reputation it has for a reason, and the Extension staff and Professional Sequence in Editing live up to its standards. Pursuing a certificate from an institution as highly esteemed as yours is a savvy choice. I am proud to have earned a certificate from you and will always be grateful for the path it has provided me.”