Love of language leads to rewarding career

Natalia Iwanek’s mission as an editor is to make communication pieces clear and accessible to all. 

“As editors, we help with communication in the world and help clarify meaning,” she explains.

Growing up in a multilingual family, Natalia had always been fascinated by the written word. After immigrating to Toronto from Poland as a child, from an early age she served as the bridge of communication for her parents, who arrived knowing little English. It came as no surprise to her that her passion for clarifying meaning would one day lead to a career in editing.

“Everyone told me to become a writer,” Natalia says. “Honestly, I never thought of that. I always wanted to edit other people’s work.”

While completing the remaining courses in her bachelor’s degree in English online, Natalia came across SFU’s Editing Certificate and decided to tackle another credential. Her instructors recommended she look into volunteering for Editors Canada, which served as her first introduction to the world of editing. She now volunteers on several of the organization’s committees and has copy-edited a few articles on the Toronto chapter’s blog.

As Natalia progressed through her courses, the concept of plain language principles—making texts clear and accessible to all—reminded her of how her parents struggled to read documents as new immigrants to Canada. She decided to expand her skills by enrolling in SFU’s Plain Language Certificate program.  

“People judge immigrants on how they speak English or write, which has nothing to do with their education level, and sometimes texts in Canada are needlessly complicated,” she says. “The need for plain language means so much to me. I didn’t realize that something I love is in demand and could add to my editing career.”

Learning from experienced editors gave Natalia the confidence and expertise to freelance when she completed the program. She now edits work for clients around the globe, many of whom are non-native English speakers. Although she has now established herself in her career, she constantly refers back to her notes from the program to ensure that her editing is up to standard.

“No matter how well you think you know grammar, there’s always more to learn,” she says. “Editing is a lifelong learning process.”

By Bernice Puzon