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!