Alissa McArthur

Alissa McArthur 2016When I first joined Canadian Literature as an office assistant in the summer of 2010, I knew I had come to a special workplace. The staff is friendly and enthusiastic and everyone is given an opportunity to play to their strengths. Although my role was primarily administrative, I was not confined to simply filing and scanning. From time to time, I was able to assist the co-op student with their editorial assistant duties—giving me valuable insight into the editing and publishing process. I was even given the opportunity to interview the guest editor of an issue—the video of which was posted to YouTube. It was an exciting and stimulating summer.

In the fall of 2011, I was lucky enough to return to Canadian Literature to join the team working on CanLit Guides. As an MA student in the English department at UBC, it was exciting for me to work together with fellow graduate students, Canadian Literature staff, and the journal’s editors on an innovative digital project. As part of the CanLit Guides team, I gained invaluable hands-on experience with writing, editing, proofreading, and HTML markup. My fellow graduate students and I worked collaboratively to organize the project, generate ideas, edit each other’s work, and put together a polished final product. We delved into the Canadian Literature archive and learned about the history of the journal and literature in Canada. The research skills I gained at Canadian Literature helped me confidently write my papers for my own graduate work.

I received incredible mentorship while at Canadian Literature. The managing editor, Donna Chin, was always patient, supportive, and receptive to new ideas. The CanLit Guides editorial team, Margery Fee, Laura Moss, and Kathryn Grafton, provided dedicated and enlightening leadership and feedback. From the webmaster, Matthew Gruman, I learned about web design and HTML. As a Master’s student, working alongside PhD students taught me about academic professionalism and research methods. Seeing other students’ writing process was a rare chance that completely transformed my perspective on writing and editing. From the undergraduate co-op and Work Learn students, I learned about journal production, copy editing and proofreading, and graphic design. Working on such a talented and committed team was truly rewarding.

As well, I was given the opportunity to pursue my own interests and take advantage of my background in journalism while working at Canadian Literature. In spring 2013, I interviewed Governor General’s Award-nominated author (and former Canadian Literature employee) Tamas Dobozy for And in the fall of 2013, I began writing news updates for,, and managing the journal’s social media accounts. This expanded role helped me further develop my digital communications skills.

Working at Canadian Literature has been an amazing learning experience. I developed wonderful friendships and will always remember my time at CanLit. I know the skills and experience I gained during my time here will benefit me immeasurably in the years to come. Thank you everyone for a great three years!