This past January, I was able to live out a lifelong dream of mine: wearing business casual clothes five days a week. I own so many sweaters and I was ecstatic to finally be able to do something with them.
But this past month was more than just a chance to try out my office fashion. January 2019 was also the month I interned in the UNC Press Publicity Department.
I applied to the one-month internship through my school, Hollins University in Roanoke, VA, so I could get a taste of the kind of real-world jobs that English majors like myself regularly seek out. The short timeframe for the internship is due to Hollins’ month long J-Term, in which students can partake in a wide array of activities, such as taking classes or going abroad. I decided to intern in breezy little Chapel Hill to learn a little bit about a mysterious industry. Since I’m a senior, it was my last chance to take advantage of a January Signature Internship, and I sure am glad I didn’t chicken out.
Before going into the internship, I knew very little about publishing. I supposed the employees worked in offices and cubicles; I suspected that there was a lot of paperwork. That’s about as far as my knowledge went. Honestly, all of the information I knew about publishing came from the movie The Proposal, but I barely even paid attention to that until after Sandra Bullock went through at least a little character development. Needless to say, I didn’t know much.
Obviously, I was a little worried about my first day. Being an absolute industry newbie was frightening, even despite the fact that I knew deep down nobody expected me to be an expert. Thankfully, when I walked through the doors, I was greeted by a whole slew of people who really love books, and I felt right at home. I strained my neck trying to read all the titles on the various shelves as I was led through the building, impressed by the variety of subjects and the quality of covers.
I quickly came to realize that my initial thoughts about publishing were pretty much on point, but that there was more to the industry than what I had imagined. Every department, from Marketing to Production to Editorial—Acquisitions and Manuscript—worked together to create a singular organism of book creation and distribution. The constant moving through various departments meant that I learned a lot of faces, but, unfortunately, not as many names.