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On Interning at Island Press: CAKE and the Development Department

What's it like to be an intern at Island Press? Nathalie von Veh gives you an idea in our first in the series: On Interning at Island Press.

I came to Island Press with enthusiasm and excitement. Island Press bridged both my academic and personal interests. I was inspired by the organization’s commitment to initiate change with ideas. I started as an intern in January 2012 to work with CAKE (the Climate Change Adaptation Knowledge Exchange) and the Development department. CAKEAlthough I had been taking environmental science and policy classes at American University, I initially knew very little about climate adaptation. With time, my confidence and knowledge on the topic grew. I found that my writing and ideas were both welcomed and well received by my colleagues. My understanding of climate adaptation improved the more I came across conferences, job opportunities, and discussion topics to post on CAKE. Working with the directory, I was continually impressed with the diverse and interesting adaptation work that I found taking place around the world, from dignified migration programs in the Pacific to forest resiliency in Montana. In a field that is often bogged down by depressing statistics, my window into the adaptation community reminded me how devoted people are to redirecting the environmental crisis. Eventually, perusing climate adaptation topics became a part of my daily routine. A few notable projects also kept me motivated throughout the semester interning at Island Press. Editing video interviews with adaptation practitioners was inspiring and it articulated how significant the climate adaption field is and how important projects like CAKE are for networking and capacity building. It was rewarding to be included in the Editorial Department and Development meetings. I had never realized before that publishers have to consider the intended audience as much as the author in order to create a successful book.  During one meeting, the team sat down to evaluate how Island Press as an organization fulfill its mission. Since it is a nonprofit, Island Press can place the cultivation of new ideas above mere sales. As the publishing field and the environment continue to evolve, it was interesting to see how the structure of the organization also has to change to stay relevant. This is reflected by Island Press’ network cities program, their increasing emphasis on e-books, and online projects like CAKE. The central lesson I took away from my semester with Island Press was the importance of communication. In order to bring about change and progress, ideas have to be disseminated among practitioners, scientists, policymakers, and the general public. Island Press has an important role in this movement because they act as a bridge between ideas and people. CAKE is an example of Island Press fostering communication. Each job opportunity, published document, or directory addition was helping to fuel an emerging and significant field. Interning with Island Press was an invaluable experience for me. I will forever feel a part of the Island Press community and my experiences and relationships will continue to enrich my endeavors in the future.