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On Interning at Island Press: Inner Workings

In this installment, Production Intern Melanie Meanders talks about the importance of hands-on experience.

I love language and literature, and I’ve always dreamed of being a part of the publishing process. That’s how I found myself moving to Washington DC from Salt Lake City, Utah, to get a master’s in publishing from the George Washington University. But as I went through my school courses, I found myself disappointed by the lack of practical experience and application. Everything was lofty discussion about office management, and I began to feel like I’d simply missed the train on learning actual, day-to-day editorial work. Then I found the production internship at Island Press. Finally, I’m seeing the inner workings of a publishing office and I’m getting hands-on experience! As an intern here, I’m not just making copies and fetching coffee (the intern’s worst nightmare); I’m actually contributing to the production process for completed manuscripts and acquiring important skills for my chosen field. I’ve learned all the calculation that goes into determining the length a manuscript will be once it has been converted to a printed book. I’ve learned all about the proofreading process and how to incorporate changes from authors and freelancers. I’ve learned more about the application of style guides and standardization—and I’ve seen the difference it can make to a finished product. I love the experience of suggesting my own changes and adjustments to the language and mechanics of a manuscript and I appreciate that my input is valued and my skills are utilized. At Island Press, I really do feel like part of the team. My favorite thing about working at Island Press is that they are committed to making it an educational experience, not just a work experience. I’m not just asked to perform tasks, but to learn processes, and questions are encouraged and thoroughly addressed. I was especially impressed by “Island Press 101.” This is an entire day set aside for the interns, with a presentation to introduce each department and give a better understanding of how it contributes to the overall strength of the company. This day really shows that an Island Press internship is more than just office experience, it is an introduction to a whole field!