Interning at Purdue University Press – with Hannah Spaulding

Purdue English majors have the perfect publishing internship opportunity available to them right here on campus. A member of the prestigious Association of University Presses, Purdue University Press publishes scholarly books, journals, and e-publications in a range of fields, including, according to its website, business, technology, health, and veterinary sciences, as well as the humanities and sciences. It is conveniently located in Stewart Center, next to Purdue Memorial Student Union and across from Heavilon Hall, the home of Purdue English. Each semester, the Press interviews and selects undergraduates for internships in editing and production. It even prefers students in English or other related fields!

Below is an interview with Hannah Spaulding, a senior in English Literature and Creative Writing, who recently completed a semester-long internship in Editorial, Production, and Design at the Press.

How has your internship helped build skills and clarify your career goals?

First and foremost, interning at the press has helped me develop my editing skills. I’ve had the opportunity to practice copyediting, sharpen my proofreading, and review completed book manuscripts. I also was taught to use Adobe InDesign for typesetting manuscripts, which is a skill I had wanted to learn. Working at the press has given me more confidence in my editing ability, a confidence that I hope to translate into starting my own freelance editing business before I graduate. As for my long-term career goals, I know editing is a strong skill I can bring to the table in any setting. One of my goals is to work as a grant writer for a nonprofit organization. The ability to edit my work will allow me to develop clearer arguments and better grant proposals.

How do you apply your Liberal Arts skills in your internship?

My skills as an English major have been invaluable to my work at the press. Being a good editor requires a high level of reading comprehension, attention to detail, and familiarity with the mechanics of quality writing. My studies in English literature have equipped me not only to pay attention to the details of a text, but also to understand the big picture. As an editor, this allows me to address sentence-level and paragraph-level concerns, while also offering feedback on the larger structure and meaning of a text. Many of the manuscripts I worked with at the press were essays for academic journals about subjects not in my field of study. Because of the high level of reading comprehension developed through studying literature, I was able to understand and edit these pieces, even those in fields such as engineering. My studies in creative writing have also helped me be a better editor because I know what it’s like to be on the receiving end of editorial feedback. Knowing the experience of authors—of developing and crafting a work for others to review—helps me give more thoughtful comments. I also am able to address grammatical or structural issues from the lens of a reader. By focusing on the reader’s experience of the text, I am able to better communicate my editorial suggestions to authors.

What is the typical day like as an intern, any challenging or exciting aspects?

A typical day involves going to the Purdue University Press office in Stewart and working on my assigned projects in the office. I could be proofreading, copyediting, typesetting, or doing some other task that my supervisor, Katherine, assigned me. I work independently on all my projects, and update Katherine about my progress so that she knows how soon to expect a finished project. Katherine is always willing to help, however, if I have questions. This semester, I was one of two interns under Katherine, so sometimes her other intern and I would collaboratively on larger projects.

One challenge I experienced during my internship was learning all three grammatical styles—APA, MLA, and Chicago. I already had experience with MLA and Chicago, but I had never used APA before, so proofreading or copyediting in APA style was interesting. Whether I was using APA, MLA, or Chicago style, I felt like every day I learned a new grammatical rule or stylistic rule, which was fun to discover and then apply to my own writing outside of the internship.

Another challenge, which I mentioned earlier, was editing journal articles in subjects I am not familiar with, such as engineering. Although I didn’t understand the complexities of the subject matter, I did understand the way a research paper or journal article is supposed to be structured, and that knowledge helped me edit not just for grammar, but also for organization and clarity of thought. Editing essays with difficult subject matter boosted my confidence in my editing ability and helped me apply my skills to new situations.

Hannah Spaulding is senior in English Literature and Creative Writing at Purdue.