Thursday, January 21, 2016

UPM Intern Reflects on Experience

Jess Bennett
The following is a guest post from Jess Bennett. Bennett is a student at Delta State and worked last semester as an intern in UPM's satellite office in Cleveland, MS. Below, he talks about his responsibilities, experiences, and interest in publishing. 

My interest in interning for the University Press of Mississippi stemmed from my general interest in publishing. As an English major, I wanted to explore the occupations relevant to my field, and the publishing industry provides one such occupation possibility. Dr. Susan Allen Ford also influenced my interest in this internship. She recommended the internship to me and said the internship would be an excellent learning experience and that my supervisor, Shane Gong, would be a fantastic person to work with. Prior to the internship, I thought the publishing industry was cut-throat and difficult to break into, so Dr. Ford’s recommendation of Shane as a good person to work with was inviting.

I first started working with Shane during July, and from the start she was very agreeable and eager to guide me through the different responsibilities of my internship. The bulk of these responsibilities included proofreading indexes and full type-scripts. The process for learning how to proofread indexes was interesting. UPM uses Chicago style format for indexes and type-scripts. Until then I had only used MLA, so learning to proofread introduced me to Chicago style, which has come in handy for some of my other classes. 

An additional responsibility that I enjoyed learning about was the encoding process. Beforehand, I was not aware that publishers encoded their books for the Library of Congress. Furthermore, I did not know that the UPM had their own coding system that they used along with the Library of Congress’s system. As of now, I have not yet learned the Press’s individual encoding system; I have, however, learned the Library of Congress’s system, which I got to use on a few type-scripts this semester.

Juggling these responsibilities was an educational experience because I learned about my strengths and weaknesses in as far as publishing goes. One such strength that I have developed is my ability to systemize proofreading. For example, when checking an index, I first do a read through to make sure the entries are in alphabetical order. Then I do an additional read through, correcting page numbers that are not in numerical order. The third, and last, check through that I do focuses on page formatting; I try to homogenize any idiosyncrasies like excess line spaces and such. While I view this methodology as a strength, it is closely related to a weakness as well. My meticulous method is useful for identifying as many mistakes as possible, but it can also take up an unnecessary amount of time. Rectifying this weakness is tricky: if I speed through my checking, then the quality of my proofreading lessens. As I continue my internship with UPM, I will have to learn how to maintain high quality proofreading while increasing the speed of my process.

Overall, I learned that my original assumption about the publishing industry was incorrect, or at least not necessarily applicable to academic presses. I am also very interested in the academic content published by the UPM, especially books on comic book studies. As an avid comic book fan, the fact that such a field exists is awe-inspiring and beautiful to me. I am also fond of the conversations series which focuses on interviews with filmmakers and authors. My hope is that I will be able to work on some of the books in these fields during my next internship with the University Press of Mississippi.

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