At the finish line

And just like that, it’s mid-August! I’ve finished my internship at 310 Publishing and have a week at home before coming back to campus for pre-Orientation. Having the week to decompress has given me plenty of time to think about what I’ve accomplished this summer, how it fits into my professional trajectory, and what I want to do moving forward.

What I did: This summer, I wrote the text for two features in the magazine, and edited articles for three other departments. I also researched and wrote an original 1,200-word piece that will run in the online edition of America in WWII. In addition, I did some copyediting and captioning work for the print edition just before it was sent to the publisher.

How I used my skills: On campus, I work as a writing center tutor and as an editor on the Dickinsonian. As a result, I spend a good chunk of each day working with writers to improve their messages. I did a substantial amount of editing this summer and was happy to have experience that let me feel confident in my work.

Where I want to go next: This is the second summer I’ve worked in publishing, and both experiences have reinforced my desire to work in journalism instead. My internship search was a valuable learning experience for me this year, since I realized how difficult it is to break into the journalism industry without having some coursework or connections to the field. I’ve started to think more seriously about MA programs in journalism (something I had turned my nose up at before) as a way to sharpen my skills and build my network.

I had a great summer at 310 publishing, and it wouldn’t have been possible without the networking tools and grant opportunities from the Dickinson Career Center. Thank you to everyone who made my internship experience possible!

Ending on a high note

The beginning of August signals the end of internship season for many Dickinsonians. This week, I’d like to share some thoughts on how to make your final days as smooth and impactful as possible.

Tie up loose ends: you don’t want to the office on your last day with anything unfinished. Even if you have to work from home, put in the extra hours to finish any project you started for your supervisors. If there’s anyone you’ve been corresponding with over email, alert them that you’re leaving and put them in contact with a co-worker who will stay in the office. You don’t want any clients to fall through the cracks in your exit from the office.

Keep track of what you’ve done: my internship supervisor last summer asked me to make a report listing everything I’d done over the summer, from my day-to-day administrative tasks to my contributions to long-term projects. I’m glad that I did that exercise while the summer was still fresh in my mind, since I’ve pulled that document up countless times to update my resume or write cover letters for other internships. Keeping a detailed record of your work is a great way to show both you and your employer what you’ve learned during your internship. And if you leave them a copy, it will make it easier for them to be specific when giving you a reference.

Say thank you: Exit with grace and say a big ‘thank you’ to your internship site for hosting you for the summer. As an intern, there’s a good chance that someone in your office took time to train you, mentor you, and gently correct your mistakes. Show your gratitude by giving a hand-written thank you note to your supervisor or anyone with whom you worked closely. If you were part of a small staff, you can also write a note to the staff and leave it in a shared space (bonus points for including a bouquet of fresh flowers or a baked good).

Good luck and congratulations to anyone finishing an internship this week!

Deadline Week – Just Say Yes

The end of July meant deadline week for the staff at America in WWII Magazine, and we sent the pages for the October issue off to the printer on Friday. Like any professional publishing company, 310 Publishing sets its production calendar (which includes editorial meetings, article deadlines, and printer deadlines) at least a year in advance. It’s critical to plan ahead, but even that can’t prevent a last-minute scramble to put the finishing touches on article text and graphics.

 

Deadline week requires all hands on deck, so it’s a chance to whip out skills new and old. I spent most of Tuesday editing and fact checking text, and on Thursday I was able to copy-edit page proofs using Insight, a page-proofing software. I also did some photo research and wrote captions for graphics. One thing I learned this week is that captioning is harder than it seems! You have a short space to give a concise but interesting description of an image, so you have to make every character space count. Having deadline week fall towards the end of the summer was a great opportunity to make use of the skills I’ve been building and try out some new ones, too. As always, it’s important to say ‘yes’ to any task that your supervisor offers you, and to not let the perfect be the enemy of the good.

 

It’s always rewarding to see a publication come into its final form, and I’m grateful to 310 Publishing and my Dickinson Career Center grant for giving me the chance to have a hand in this issue of America in WWII.

Closing the Gap

In the six weeks I’ve been at 310 Publishing, I’ve been lucky to spend many of my days doing my favorite thing: writing! My supervisors at work want to help their interns build their writing portfolios and are generous with delegating writing assignments. So far, I’ve written the text for four of the standard editorial features for the magazine, and I’m currently working on an original feature piece for the magazine’s online newsletter.

Though I’m happy to spend my days researching, composing, and editing pieces, I’d be lying if I said that I didn’t feel a little out of shape. My semester abroad in France last spring was a break from the writing-intensive course load that I’m accustomed to as an English major. As a result, I feel like I’ve forgotten how to use language with any kind of force or precision. When I’m feeling frustrated, I remind myself of advice I heard from Ira Glass, the host of This American Life. I’ve included a video below with Glass’s voiceover, but the gist of his argument is this: the basis of making creative work – whether you’re a writer, a dancer, a visual artist, a musician – is having good taste. The challenge is that your own work never measures up to the standards of your taste. He says that the only way to bridge “the gap” between your work and your ideal is to keep creating, and to do it in large volumes. You might not be happy with what your end result, but you have to push through that self-censoring judgment — failing to realize a vision is a necessary and inevitable part of improving your craft.

 

I’m grateful to my internship supervisors for giving me the chance to get my writing chops back in shape, and for the Dickinson Internship Grant that’s making my summer possible.

Intern tips: reading up on your industry

It’s hard to believe that June is coming to a close and that some of us are hitting the mid-way point of our internship programs. This week, I’d like to share a tip that may seem sacrilegious in the dead of summer: do your homework. An internship is primarily a learning experience, and part of that learning includes staying abreast of trends and current events in own industry. One of the best ways to do this is by reading industry-specific blogs and newsletters. You can find industry publications for just about any field (if you’re skeptical, I offer this blog about the snowplow industry as proof.) You can turn some up with a simple Google search, but it’s also a great idea to ask your supervisor or coworkers for recommendations. Below, I’ve rounded up some resources (from blogs to podcasts to daily newsletters) that I’ve referenced for my work in journalism and publishing.

 

 

Journalism

Columbia Journalism Review

Jim Romanesko

WNYC’S On the Media podcast

Longform

 

Online and Social Media Marketing

Buffer

Content Marketing Institute

Social Media Examiner Podcasts

 

Book and Magazine Publishing

Bo Sacks

Publishers Weekly

Publishers Lunch

 

Confessions of a part-time intern

I’ve finished up my third week at 310 publishing, and I feel like I need to come clean with any readers following along out there. Here’s a confession for you: even though this blog is devoted to my job at 310 Publishing, the time I spend there only accounts for a small fraction of what I do throughout the week. I go into the office on Tuesdays and Thursdays, which leaves me with plenty of free time for other pursuits. Here’s a look at what I’m doing on the side this summer.

Dabbling in political journalism

In the fray of internship application season, I also landed a part-time job with PoliticsPA, an online news site devoted to Pennsylvania state politics. I work for them from home for about 8-10 hours a week . My duties include contributing to their daily news roundup and writing the occasional story. It’s a nice introduction to political journalism, and writing for a digital medium is invaluable experience.

 

Helping a professor with her book project

Last winter, one of my professors asked me if I’d be available to help her with research for her upcoming book project. We both knew my involvement would depend on what I was doing over the summer, and I was happy that being in Carlisle would give me the chance to be her extra set of hands. We’re still outlining my tasks, but I’ll be helping her sort through archival materials and organize her sources. Though it’s unpaid, it couldn’t be a better compliment to my work in publishing — after working with editors for two summers, I’ll get a glimpse into the industry from a writer’s perspective.

 

Starting my own blog

Any young person interested in journalism has received the same advice from a million well-intentioned friends and elders: “you should get a blog!” I’ve known for years that I should be blogging, but I never felt like I had the purpose or authority to do so. I finally caved when I realized that having blog isn’t indulgent or self-important – it’s just good practice if you want to write. Having my own online space will encourage me to write frequently, which is the only way to improve. I haven’t launched my site yet (still fiddling with design and, well, choosing a name), but I’ll be sure to plug it here when I do.

Giving myself permission to do nothing

Being abroad this spring reminded me that Americans glorify work for work’s sake. I was originally disappointed that I’d only managed to secure a part-time internship, but now I’m seeing all the free time as an opportunity, not a void to fill. In an email this week, my advisor (who might also be the wisest woman on earth) gave me some great advice for the summer: “Take time to think and read and just be: it will help you in the coming year!” I know she’s right – I’m entering my senior year, which means writing a thesis and diving into a job hunt. The next few months are the calm before the storm, and it’d be a waste not to take it easy.

Making the most of your internship: attending special events

Last week, my supervisors at my internship site invited me to attend the annual World War II weekend at the Mid-Atlantic Air Museum in Reading, PA. The event is one of the largest WWII events on the East Coast, and brings together veterans, history enthusiasts, and vendors for a weekend of reenactments and exhibits. The proximity is a huge advantage for 310 Publishing – the event essentially gathers their target demographic in one place for a weekend, giving us a prime opportunity to sell subscriptions and promote our brand.

I went to Reading on Friday afternoon to help our CEO, who was manning the booth alone. By total chance, the weekend coincided with the deadline for our August issue. The 310 team usually accounts for the WWII weekend when setting the production schedule and had set the August deadline for the week before the convention. When our art director had a major computer crash, though, they pushed the printing date back by one week. As a result, our Editorial team was finishing captions and page proofs in the wee hours of Friday morning. Needless to say, our CEO was glad to have some backup for the first day of the show!

The event gave me the chance to try out a new (and very important!) area of publishing: sales. The vendors tent is a big attraction at the convention, and I quickly realized that I’d have to develop an effective sales pitch if I wanted to keep customers at our booth and make a sale. What I learned is that you need to know how to clearly distinguish your product from a crowded market: there are plenty of World War II special-interest magazines, but ours is the only one that uses social history to examine the war from the perspective of soldiers and civilians. When I tied this selling point into my pitch, customers were more likely to consider buying a subscription. Thankfully, it wasn’t a hard sell from there: we were offering hugely reduced rates for those who subscribed at the fair, and we were able to process orders on the spot.

 

Working in publishing can sometimes feel like a very solitary venture – both writers and editors spend their days alone with manuscripts, and even publishing offices have become more fragmented thanks to the possibility of telecommuting. Doing in-person sales felt refreshing because I was meeting the people who read (or who will read) our final product. My boss told me that some of the subscribers come by the booth every year for a renewal – even in the short afternoon that I was there, it was clear to me that the company has lasting relationships with many of its readers. I’d encourage any interns to take advantage of special events like this one. They offer great opportunities to see a aspect side of your industry and build new, valuable skills.

Introduction

Hello, everyone! Welcome to my blog. My name is Lizzy, and I’m a rising senior at Dickinson. This summer, I’ll be blogging about my internship at 310 Publishing LLC, a family-owned and operated publishing firm in Harrisburg, PA. They publish America in WWII, a bi-monthly special interest magazine about the American people and soldiers during the Second World War. As their editorial intern, I’ll be responsible for a slew of tasks to get the magazine ready for print.

A bit about me: at Dickinson, I major in English and recently completed a semester abroad in Toulouse, France. I’ve worked for The Dickinsonian since my freshman year, and I was recently elected co-Editor-in-Chief. I also work as a tutor in the writing center and as a Writing Associate with first-year seminar classes. As a result, I spend most of my days writing, revising, editing, and repeating!

My position with 310 this summer will be my second foray into the publishing world. Last summer, I interned at an independent publishing company in Vermont. I learned a lot about a rapidly changing industry, but what I also learned is that I’d rather be writing a manuscript or article than editing one for someone else. My internship with 310 will let be a step towards what I’d like to be doing: it will let me be use the knowledge I built last summer while giving me the chance to build my writing portfolio. I’m excited for the chance to work for a periodical publication, and to learn how writers and editors collaborate to create fresh, well-reported material for their readers.

Which, incidentally enough, is what I hope to do on this blog! I’ll be posting each week to give a view into what I’m doing at work, and I hope to keep posts interesting for students, industry professionals, and Dickinson faculty and staff alike. I welcome any input or questions in the comments – if you have a question about the magazine or publishing in general, please pipe up! Thank you for stopping by.