On Interning at Island Press: Not Just About Raising Funds

Like many college students, I am familiar with the all-too-common rollercoaster: late nights spent thinking about the future, deciding how to leave my proverbial mark on the world. As a rising sophomore, I’m still in the beginnings of my academic career. I haven’t officially declared my major or decided if I will study abroad yet; and applying to grad school, narrowing down a specific career path, and writing my thesis still feel like the distant future. This summer, I wanted to do something that would broaden my ideas of what I can do with my passion for environmental issues. I was drawn to an internship with Island Press as a way to gain practical skills and a wider perspective of what I can do with my future.

As a Development Intern, I was thrown into the work of conducting research on the individuals and foundations that Island Press works with. Through this research, I was able to learn about some of the world’s environmental leaders who are forging new avenues of thought and action and are critical to building a sustainable future. It has been eye-opening for me to learn about the diverse ways that organizations and people around the world are working to helping the environment and the extensive network of people who are committed to environmental issues. Thinking about the ways that Island Press can collaborate with other environmental leaders has been endlessly exciting.

I started this summer with only a vague notion of the field of development. I have learned that development is not just about raising funds to carry on necessary work—it can be a way of connecting and forging lasting relationships with people who share a common mission for conservation and a desire to use the spreading of crucial ideas in the field to lead to change.

Throughout the summer, I have been encouraged to explore the different departments of Island Press. One of my favorite aspects of the internship program has been IP 101’s, where we were given the opportunity to talk with each department about what they do and why they do it. Through these presentations and discussions, I have been exposed not only to the complex book publishing process, but also how non-profits operate. In addition to learning a lot about development work during my internship, it has been so interesting to get a big picture understanding of Island Press and non-profits in general.