Informally, it’s career week here at UGA Press. On Wednesday we are hosting a Careers in Publishing Panel with the English Department and The Georgia Review on the main UGA campus. (Click here to see the event page on Facebook if you’re in/near Athens and would like to attend.) Monday is also the application deadline for spring 2016 internships. Since thinking about the future has gotten us in a reflective mood, we asked a former intern—who is currently the editorial assistant at UGA Press, lest anyone question the value of internships!—and a current intern to write about their experiences in hopes of showing how bright, ambitious young people looking to get into publish can take the first steps.
When I interviewed for an internship back in 2011, I remember being very, very nervous. I didn’t quite know what department I would want to work in, and so I applied to two: editorial and acquisitions. Thankfully, the editorial department saw that I wasn’t a great fit for that role (read: I am a terrible speller and probably tremendously failed the proofreading test). And so, in fall of 2011, I started working in the acquisitions department.
I didn’t even know what “acquisitions” meant at the time, but I soon learned that acquisitions editors are part talent scout/part coach. My tasks started off small: writing decline letters, sending acknowledgements, organizing permissions logs. When the semester was coming to a close, though, my advisor Sydney DuPre offered that I stay on for another term to work more in-depth on a single book project: organizing the art program for The Etowah River User’s Guide.
It was in this second part of my internship that I really saw the detailed eye required by an editorial assistant (my current role at the Press). I was going image by image, confirming that it fit with Press standards. I was closely reading the text to best position each image. I was looking in other Press books to find potential illustrations for the floral/fauna section of the book. I learned about permissions, and how important it was to have a paper trail. When all was said and done, I felt deeply tied to the book.
When it came out the following year, I had graduated and was participating in Teach for America in Oklahoma. Sydney sent me a copy, and we stayed in touch. When she was moving into an assistant editor role, she reached out once more to let me know there was an opening for an editorial assistant and that I might be good for the job.
Now in my second year of working fulltime at the Press, I’m so grateful for all that I have learned and continue to learn as an early career staff member. My internship played a huge role in my motivation to work in an alt-ac career, and in university publishing in general. I can’t stress enough to undergraduate students today how important it is to intern. Things have come full circle, and I now advise the acquisitions interns.
I started interning with the Press in August, at the start of the Fall 2015 semester. Now halfway through the internship, I have come to realize the value of the experience I’m gaining here. The tasks can range from everyday procedures to fresh, new assignments; each new responsibility I’m given teaches me more about the world of publishing. Much more intricate than I could have realized, I consider myself lucky to be learning about the business at the Press. Each step in the process is equally as important as the last and I have benefitted from being exposed to each one, be it up from afar in another department or up close and personal in acquisitions.
Furthermore, my time as an intern at the Press has given me the opportunity to learn more about the books that drew me to explore the field of publishing in the first place. For me, the most valuable experience has been seeing these writings in a new light—one that critically analyzes their true value and significance. Witnessing the staff’s commitment to putting out the highest quality literature and publishing groundbreaking work inspires me to strive for excellence in my own pursuits.
Moreover, the UGA Press has proven to be a warm and inviting work environment where I can realize my full potential and effectively learn about the field. At the Press, I feel that I am valued and respected, no matter how small my contribution may be. I am so grateful for the opportunity to make said contribution and to learn under the leadership of such an esteemed publishing team.