Intern Reflections: Adriana Obiol and Hannah Zuckerman

Each summer, Penn Press welcomes a set of interns to come and learn about scholarly publishing (and help us do a lot of work!), and we asked if any would be willing to write up some reflections on their time here. We are featuring them this week. Yesterday we had Zoe Gould and Katarina Troutman. Here's our next set.

+   +   +

More than the sum of its parts

On my first day at Penn Press, all of us interns received a tour of the building. We went up and down three floors, being introduced to and quite awkwardly shaking the hands of at least fifteen different people from what seemed like twenty different departments—including (gasp!) the director of the Press—and generally shuffling around in an awestruck daze (although that might have just been me, come to think of it). The whole thing only took about thirty minutes.

When I was back sitting in what has been my room this summer, trying to slowly digest all that information, I felt a little overwhelmed. What was the difference between a Managing Editor and an Editing & Production Manager? How did the Journals department operate in relation to the rest of the Press? What did the people in Acquisitions do? How could I possibly remember all these people’s names?

Most of all, however, I wanted to understand how the different parts of the Press interact with each other as well as with the world of academia to engineer the content that helps shape scholarly thought and discussion. Over the course of my time here I tried to pay special attention to information that was relevant, and I certainly think that the internship made it readily available. Attending the various informational seminars offered by each department proved to be extremely useful for me. Transmittal meetings, in which manuscripts are officially handed from Acquisitions to Production, also provided very concrete information about the specific tasks that are carried out in the production of a book.

As I look back on the past ten weeks, I think that gaining this kind of knowledge is what I value most about this experience. The opportunity to get an insider’s view of the Press has allowed me to understand this industry better as a whole, and while other publishers might not go about things in the exact same manner, I have the comforting security that, if I decide to work in publishing, I won’t be completely in the dark when I start. Moreover, having detailed knowledge of the inner workings of the Press puts me in a great position to make more specific, informed choices about the place I would like to occupy in the industry in the future. I am, of course, very thankful to all the people I’ve met here for making this internship a priceless experience. At the risk of sounding cheesy, I feel that at the Press I finally understood what it means to say that the whole is more than the sum of its parts. —Adriana Obiol


Teams and individuals

During my experience at The University of Pennsylvania Press, I witnessed the relationship between teamwork and independent work in a professional environment. I was used to an academic environment where people sometimes work in groups to complete projects but usually work alone on assignments and papers. However, I soon discovered the connection between the two types of work.

During the first session, I worked in the Business Department as an Awards and Rights Assistant. I experienced working independently on various large projects but most especially when my supervisor—the Press’s Rights Administrator, Jaime Marie Estrada—went to a conference for one week, leaving me and the other intern, Zoe Gould, in charge of her work. While she was away, I sent out award nomination letters to award committee members, sent out books to the committees, and then corresponded with the Penn Press authors whose books the Press had nominated. In the transmittal meeting that week, I spoke in her place about potential award nominations for the book in discussion. Throughout that experience, I was able to work on my own but was also aware that I had responsibilities that impacted the larger goals of the Press.

Similarly, when I moved to the Acquisitions Department, I worked for one week on preparing a manuscript for transmittal by fixing the formatting and layout of the text to the Press’s specifications. Before working on it, one of my supervisors, Hannah Blake, told me that in Acquisitions your job was not to fix grammatical or illogical problems in the manuscript, but rather to focus only on the formatting. When I went through the manuscript, I fixed and corrected the font, indentations, and page numbers, but noticed the wide variety of other issues that arose. By observing but not correcting them I saw how the departments each focused on their specific parts of the manuscript, but all came together to turn that one manuscript into the best possible scholarly work.

In the Acquisitions department, I was also able to work alongside another intern, Adriana, unlike in the Business Department, where the interns worked on separate projects. Together, we worked on certain projects like making copies of memos for meetings, working on contributor release forms, and organizing manuscripts for the managing department. The projects were relatively simple and either one of us could have done them alone, but by doing them together we moved through them faster and acted as the second pair of eyes for each other’s work and progress.

As interns, we had specific projects we worked on over our time at the Press, but we also worked alongside both our supervisors and each other so that the Press could run smoothly as a whole. —Hannah Zuckerman

Forthcoming Events