Behind the Scenes with Emma Page

At Asymptote, you don’t need to live in New York or London to work at a world-class literary publication.

Did you hear? We recently released our first recruitment drive of the year, advertising many newly available openings (from poetry editor to social media manager), offering readers a chance to get involved behind the scenes as Asymptote enters its ninth year of curating the best in world literature. Some of you who might be curious about this opportunity (bear in mind that the application deadline is less than 10 days away!) may wonder what it’s like to work for a dynamic literary journal such as ours, so today, in a weekend special, we are sharing a testimonial by Communications Manager Emma Page, who tells us why she chose to become a part of our global movement.


After completing my MA in Translation at Lancaster University in the UK this past October, I spent quite a bit of time figuring out what to do with myself. I considered looking for a position in publishing, but opportunities appeared few and far between. I eventually landed on freelance business translation, which I love, but the work didn’t quench my thirst for the arts. At a loss and living on the isolated Isle of Man, I started looking for remote opportunities at literary journals and websites.

I had been reading Asymptote since it was a brand-new venture and I was a high schooler just discovering the world of literary translation, but I had never considered working for them. As freelancers and artists in the social-media era, we are often told by our elders to be suspicious of “opportunities” to trade our work for “experience” or “exposure.” It’s a catch-22: If you can’t afford to work for free, you can’t gain the experience to qualify for the rare, extremely competitive paid gigs. I believe this is a real problem in the arts world, and that it directly contributes to the marginalization of non-wealthy voices.

So why did I apply to work for Asymptote? Because Asymptote is different. Everyone on the masthead (including the full-time Editor-in-Chief) is a volunteer. Everyone is here because they love what we do and they believe in our mission. Everyone has work and a life outside the journal, so time commitments are low and flexible.

When I first joined the team, I was skeptical. How could a volunteer organization with over 100 members working across many time zones and continents ever commit to get anything done? As it turns out, they do it through hyper-organization, setting clear expectations, and respecting each and every one of their volunteers equally. The HR department is better than many places where I’ve worked in paid positions, and the sense of camaraderie is impressive given that we communicate almost exclusively via email.

What I appreciate most about Asymptote is that the journal insists on high standards but low barriers to entry. At Asymptote, you don’t need to live in New York or London to work at a world-class literary publication. You don’t need to swap a living wage for a rock-bottom salary just to get your name on a masthead, and you don’t need a long list of prestigious publications on your resume to get your foot in the door.

What you do need are dedication, passion, and a skill set which matches the journal’s needs. My writing abilities and creativity have been pushed to the limit in my four months here, and I feel as if I’ve had a crash course in non-profit digital communications. I’ve made concrete contributions to the success of a journal I love, and I have a new global network of brilliant translation enthusiasts at my fingertips. Perhaps most importantly, I’ve been able to stay involved with literary translation while moving around the UK and exploring a variety of potential homes and career paths. I can’t wait to see what my future at Asymptote brings!

If, like Emma Page, you have a burning passion for world literature, check out our many newly available openings here and send in your application by January 22! Don’t wait!