On Interning For Island Press: The Editorial Experience

The best career advice I’ve ever received was not in fact career advice at all. It was a tweet, and it said something along the lines of ‘what you spend your time doing when you’re procrastinating, you should do for the rest of your life.’ After a brief google search looking for jobs that would pay me to binge watch Netflix, I moved onto my next, much more logical option: reading. I thought long and hard about jobs that would pay me to read, and how I could tie that love in with other things I wanted out of my career: travel, collaboration, a sense of impact on the world, an opportunity to prove myself and be promoted. What I came out with on the other side was book publishing. After I settled on this, it informed every choice I made from then on: where I went to college, what I decided to major in, what extracurricular activities I participated in, the order in which I prioritized my documentaries, etc. But I would never actually test the waters of this dream career I had discovered until seven years later when I applied for, and was offered, the editorial internship at Island Press.

In many ways I’m thankful that my first experience actually working in book editing was with Island Press. The entire team here outpours a deep passion for the impact of books, an understanding of the care a book should be handled with, and a respect for each stage of the process. I never expected to be thrust into as many projects as wholly as I have, or to see my work actually manifest itself in a tangible 250 page thing I can hold in my hands. It has been extremely rewarding, and I can already feel how formative this experience will be for me in the future. I love giving people my opinion (even when they don’t ask), so naturally reviewing unsolicited manuscripts has been a blast. This experience has also opened my eyes to new things that I value and hope to incorporate into my career. Friday afternoon cover meetings have become one of my favorite hours of the week because they incorporate collaboration and design. Without them, I may have never discovered how important these two aspects are to me, and I may not have prioritized them when looking for opportunities after Island Press.

Interning here has definitely had its ups and downs, but each experience has taught me a lot. The best part has definitely been getting to know everyone on the editorial team, learning about the entire process a book goes through before being published, and watching everyone put their love and passion for both books and the environment into each day of that process. It’s been an honor and pleasure to watch, and to learn from, them this semester.