By contributor Vinci Lam

Whether a creative writing, digital media, or business student, there is an opportunity for you to play a part in the creation of a magazine, before you even complete a degree. Portal magazine is VIU’s very own student-published literary magazine, with 100 percent student-created content, including fiction, non-fiction, poetry, art, and book reviews. Maybe a less known fact to those outside the Creative Writing program is that the creation of the magazine is done through a year-long process with an instructor, as course requirement for CREW 430/431 (Publishing Workshop I & II).

As a creative writing minor with interest in becoming an editor, I took the opportunity to learn more about the publishing industry and the workings of the editorial process. At this stage of the process, the magazine is completed, and the feeling of accomplishment is incredible. The course requires a lot of commitment but leaves you with a rewarding result. The magazine itself is an achievement, but the process of getting to that print material is just as fulfilling.

Working for Portal is like riding a bicycle with training wheels, or ice-skating with a traffic cone in front of you. You experience first-hand the autonomy to make decisions such as what image to put on the cover, which pieces to select and reject, how a poem may be improved, and minor details like the color theme for the launch. You have the opportunity to freely discover and explore new experiences and skills of your choice. At the same time, you work under the safety of knowing there is a fallback, an accomplished instructor, to guide you through it all and make executive decisions if you feel like you’re losing control. This is the perfect opportunity to make the most of the experience and go out of your comfort zone to explore everything and anything that crosses your mind. You can do so without the risk of failing or making a fool of yourself. You can do so before you step into the reality of the industry, to practice the farfetched, and suggest the “silly” ideas you hesitate to put forward. This is the time to test all your plans and find out the boundaries and plausibility of them in a safe space.

In Portal, you aren’t just offered a creative writing experience, but you are also encouraged to take up responsibilities that have nothing to do with writing or editing. All Portal team members participate in fundraising and ad sales, which are essential business components that play a part in the success of a magazine. While all of us had shared responsibilities, each one of us also carried a unique role to the table. Mine particularly was social media. I strongly encourage any kind of participation in the social media realm in this day and age. Any experience you have, especially in a professional setting, will be valuable and worth mentioning on your résumé since every business is expected to have an online presence nowadays. During the year, I’ve learned how to work alone, as well as with others, to delegate work, as well as volunteer for positions I have no experience in. Communication is key. Everyone in the team has his/her own expertise. The opportunity to learn from each other and improve together makes this experience more powerful, and it improves the quality of the final product.

It’s important to remember that you don’t have to know everything about a role before you apply for it. Obviously, prior knowledge is an advantage, but the best thing about Portal is that you can take the initiative to argue for a role you want and learn on the way. You may realize you have skills you’ve never exercised and opinions that others have never dreamed of.

The Portal class is one where each student shapes their experience the way they want it and designs their course to be useful for their specific career after graduation. Receive hands-on education and a glimpse of the real world through this enriching course. Learn the way you want, and create opportunities for your future.  

Come to the Portal 2017 launch on April 6 to celebrate our hard work with us! From 6 pm to 9:30 pm, we will present the final product of our year-long effort and authors will perform readings of their work at the Cavallotti Lodge. For more information, keep an eye out on our Facebook page.