Find out what it's like to work as an intern at UPM in their own words. Two former interns, Aaron Payne and Jess Bennett, take over the blog to discuss their experiences at UPM. To apply, send a resume and cover letter to Emily Bandy (firstname.lastname@example.org). The deadline to apply for both the McRae Internship and editorial internships is April 10.
When I first heard about the possibility of an internship with the University Press of Mississippi at Delta State University, I was immediately interested. I had been waiting for the chance to see what real editing is like, and this internship has been exactly that. I learned that there are separate fields within editorial—acquiring (bringing in new books) and production (copyediting, proofreading, and indexing books). This internship focuses on production and involves checking a manuscript over and over again to make sure you have caught all of the errors and that everything is laid out correctly.
I went into the internship being nervous and not fully knowing what to expect, but that changed immediately. Project Manager Shane Gong Stewart quickly made me feel at ease, and from there we just started working. There was no rush, so I did not feel pressured to get things done. I was able to work efficiently at my own pace. One of the things I started with was looking at, reading, and editing indexes. I did not realize how much work and attention goes into editing the index for a book. The selected entries are very specific, and there are more organizational rules than one would think. There are many rules to apply at one time—for instance, checking the proper use of dashes and following rules for selecting subentries and cross references for overlapping ideas, all while alphabetizing entries and making sure page numbers are in numerical order. Everything needs to be checked multiple times, and it really helps to read the index out loud to check for mistakes, as tedious as it can be at times.
Another element of production that I learned about was coding manuscripts. After editing several indexes, I was then given a document to code. I inserted codes that would indicate particular formatting cues for the designer, ranging from coding for line spacing, chapter titles, chapter authors, extracts, footnotes, and bibliographies to inserting callouts for pictures. It was an interesting aspect of production to get to work on.
One of the bigger projects that I worked on this semester was an interview book, Jim Shooter: Conversations. One of the press’s series is a compilation of interviews with comic artists (Conversations with Comic Artists). The Jim Shooter book was interesting for me to work on because I enjoy comics-based television shows and movies, so reading about the original comics, especially hearing from the creators and writers of those comics appealed to me. It was remarkable learning that Jim Shooter started writing for DC Comics while he was still in high school and that that was how he entered into comic writing. With this project, I was involved in several different aspects of the editing process: I helped code and format the book, and then I got to read through it, correcting grammar and making sure the text flowed well and maintained the voice of the speakers. (The latter task is what I had been envisioning as editing and what I thought I would be doing from the beginning of a career as an editor.)
Perhaps what has stuck with me most so far from this internship is the moment I actually felt like an editor. I was going through a completed PDF and checking that the chapter titles matched the contents page, the running heads were consistent, dashes were used correctly, spacing was accurate, the text was justified, and any errors in the formatting of the document were caught. After learning of all these elements and the rules to follow, the editing—in particular the difference between a hyphen, em dash, and en dash—started to click in my head. I also noticed that I was starting to apply these rules to the materials I was reading in my spare time. Looking for these attributes was starting to become second nature to me. It was in that moment that I realized I was truly learning these rules and applying them to aspects in my life. It was empowering.
All in all, this internship has been very enlightening. It has helped me grow as a student, but more importantly it has given me ideas for career possibilities. What I have liked most about this internship is the chance to get to talk about life with Shane. Not only have I been able to learn about the process of editing from her, but she has also taken the time to invest in me and share personal experiences about life after college. She has shared her knowledge and has given me valuable information that will be applicable to my life moving forward. This is the kind of advice and guidance that I have been wanting since starting college—knowledge that is truly life applicable and that will help me succeed out on my own in the “real world.” This internship has given me editorial experience with that type of guidance as an added bonus.
Over the summer I had the privilege to work in the University Press of Mississippi’s main office in Jackson through the McRae Internship, an experience that required me to work with each branch of the press from editorial to business and marketing. This internship was very intensive, especially since many positions in the press were changing during that time. Our previous director changed presses, for example, while the head of the design department retired. Refilling these positions consistently altered the work load among press employees, and this fluctuation lasted for the whole summer.
Once I returned to Delta State for my senior year, I anticipated that my work load would be easier, since I would only be working with the editorial department. While my suspicions were true insofar as work load was concerned, the nature—perhaps enormity—of each assignment was quite different than in my previous year. Still feeling the aftershocks of the summer staff changes, the editorial department had lost a lot of time on certain projects. One such assignment, which Project Manager Shane Gong Stewart undertook a large portion of, was The Mississippi Encyclopedia, a lengthy project that, like any encyclopedia, requires fine-toothed combing in order to make sure each entry is accurate.
While Shane dealt with the Encyclopedia, Aaron Payne, my fellow intern, and I helped with many of the remaining projects. Naturally, we felt the same time crunch, meaning that these assignments not only needed to be handled well, but also in a timely fashion. This aspect of the job proved more difficult than last year because I also encountered more challenging aspects of the editorial process. For example, one of the projects I worked on was a book of interviews with the Chinese film director Wong Kar-Wai. Naturally, many of the interviews were translated into English, and though the majority of the book’s content was very engaging, Shane and I found that some passages did not translate clearly. At that point, we were confronted with one of the many difficult questions that editors have to wrestle with: what are the limitations on an editor when he or she works with a translation? Of course, I was under the same time limitations as Shane, meaning that I had to process difficult situations such as translation in a short amount of time.
Despite the difficulty of these challenges, the outcome was still quite rewarding. When I face challenges of a similar nature in a college course, there is generally more time to navigate through each difficulty. This luxury often does not occur in a job. However, I felt a sense of accomplishment through being able to handle these challenges in a short amount of time. While working at the main office, I learned that time, as far as the work force is concerned, is hardly ever ideal. So, in a sense, I feel more prepared to enter “the real world.”
One part of my job that was not affected by all the changes in the main office was the concern that Shane shows towards her workers. This semester I came in with two capstone projects hanging over my head—one for English and one for History—and Shane said right at the start that if I felt like I was getting overwhelmed, then I needed to let her know as soon as possible. Speaking frankly, any worker is lucky to come across such concern. The fact that Shane shows this consideration for her interns exemplifies how wonderful a supervisor she is. Furthermore, a similar level of consideration is present in the University Press of Mississippi as a whole, and I am excited to see where my final semester as an editorial intern takes me.