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On Interning at Island Press: A Valuable Interdisciplinary Experience

In this installment, Kevin MacWhorter, Editorial Intern, writes about approaching publishing from a legal perspective.

I applied to intern at Island Press in August with law school applications in mind. Having graduated from William and Mary with a degree in History, I’ve studied the creation and evolution of the environmental movement; and, hoping to study environmental law in the future, I decided that an internship here would be helpful in achieving my ultimate career goals. It’s only been a couple months since I started working here, but I can say this experience has been very rewarding. Not only have I been able to witness first-hand the slow and sometimes frustrating process of publication, but I’ve been able to watch people who are passionate about the industry do what they love to do. I’m certainly a bibliophile, and I was even an editor of my high school newspaper, but I had never really considered the book creation process before.  On my first day, I sat in on a meeting with people I had just met (or hadn’t even met yet) arguing over the fate of several manuscripts and whether or not they should be published.  Watching such a dedicated group of people discuss books whose subjects were intended for professional and academic audiences, with a tremendous grasp of the issues the books present, was a great experience. Of course, it was also fairly bewildering considering I was entirely new to the process. Nevertheless, I was able to pick up the job fairly quickly. The editorial department was nice enough to tailor my projects specifically to my legal ambitions. My first task was to read through a long list of publishing contracts in order to determine whether IP had the right to publish those works as e-books. Though the task took a while, and could be fairly tedious, it was interesting to consider the implications of what I was doing. Working at Island Press now, I’m able to participate in an important technological development of an industry – specifically, in accommodating new conceptions of the printed word, from paper to electronic devices. In addition to reading contracts, I’ve been able to read various book proposals and evaluate them. Ultimately, my position as an editorial intern has satisfied my love of reading, writing, and learning about the environment. Basically, interning at Island Press is a good experience for anyone, whether he or she wants to continue in publishing or not, since publishing is at the crossroads of a number of different fields. And since IP focuses on environmental issues and solutions, interning here is a chance to be involved with a non-profit organization dedicated to necessary change. An Island Press internship provides experience for any number of future career paths.