McRae Intern Says Summer at UPM was 'eye-opening and informative'

The following is a guest post from Dakotah Daffron. Dakotah worked with UPM this summer as the McRae publishing intern. The McRae Publishing Internship, supported by the Richard and Selby McRae Foundation, offers a singular educational opportunity to young men and women interested in book publishing to start their careers as interns and gain valuable practical knowledge about the publishing industry.

Below, Dakotah talks about his interest in publishing and his experience this summer at UPM.

My interest in publishing stems from a deep appreciation for the craft of writing. As someone who has chosen to pursue a degree in English, I believe it is important to pay attention to not only what is being written, but also to consider how it is being written. When I entered Mississippi State University, I was a Chemistry major with a minor in English. After three semesters, I realized that I enjoyed and excelled in my English classes more than my Chemistry classes. I dropped the Chemistry major, and I decided to follow the English route.

Originally, I had no idea what exactly I wanted to do with my degree. I knew that I did not want to teach, and I knew that I wanted to be in a fast-paced environment. When I joined MSU’s creative arts journal, The Streetcar, it became more clear what I wanted to do. I realized that I liked working with authors and artists, so I began to think about publishing. I discussed this with a few of my professors who were extremely supportive of my decision, and we talked about the different options within the big world I simply call “publishing.” That is actually how I learned about this internship with University Press of Mississippi, and I am incredibly happy that I did.

My summer at UPM has been eye-opening and informative. I believe that because I was a publishing intern rather than an editorial intern, I was able to see how the Press works through more than one lens. However, I did work closer to the Editorial Assistant, Katie Keene, and the Assistant Director/Editor-in-Chief, Craig Gill. I also worked a good bit with the Production Manager, Shane Gong-Stewart, and the Acquisitions Editor, Vijay Shah.

As the McRae intern, my responsibilities were vast. In any given week, I would prepare a contract, read an index, scan page proofs, write email rejection letters, contact authors, and many other tasks. Of my daily tasks, I was solely responsible for contacting and keeping up with readers. This required me to email professors and professionals every day requesting their services. I also helped to prepare for launch meetings, editorial meetings, and board meetings.

The best part of this internship, other than it being a very educational experience, was working with the staff. Since I had previous experience working in an office, I feel like I hit the ground running and was integrated into this machine very quickly. It did not take long for me to learn the procedures, and I have Katie Keene to thank for that. She made the initial learning experience extremely easy. Working alongside Craig Gill was really nice as well; seeing his workload and what it is like to be an Editor-in-Chief only confirmed that I am pursuing the right field. His work may be difficult and he may have a lot of it, but he works with many different authors and editors whose books are about various subjects. 

As I write this post, I am getting ready to head back to Mississippi State to complete my English degree, and I could not be any more sure of my career choice. I thank the University Press of Mississippi staff and the McRae Foundation for that. When I finish college, I want to try my hand in a trade press, hopefully working with YA novels in New York. I do, however, really enjoy the life in a University Press, so I may end up working one. For all I know, I could end up working for UPM again!