For many students, landing an internship in the publishing industry requires packing their bags and venturing off to a large urban center. I thought I would have to do so, too, until last summer when the Sigma Tau Delta Summer Internship Stipend afforded me the opportunity to participate in an editorial internship in my own backyard.
Earlier this spring, I researched and applied for internship programs across the country, planning to sail far away from the University of Louisiana, Monroe in order to gain experience. Most of these programs took place in cities such as Nashville, Atlanta, and even Manhattan. However, when my English professor and advisor, Dr. Jana Giles, informed me of an internship right here in Monroe, LA, I closed down my Google Search engine and filled out the application.
Dr. Giles serves as the Managing Editor for Conradiana, the nation’s premiere academic journal for all things Joseph Conrad. While I did not have much knowledge about his works before beginning this internship, his style peaked my curiosity, and I figured editing papers from some of the most notable Conrad scholars of our time might be an effective way to learn more. To better understand the papers we were editing, Dr. Giles suggested we read Heart of Darkness and accompanying analyses, which led to several discussions about racism, imperialism, and the use of impressionism in writing. Studying Conrad not only improved my editing abilities, but also expanded my literary repertoire.
During the editorial internship, we also read selections from The Copyeditor’s Handbook and The Chicago Manual of Style, in addition to referring to the MLA Handbook 8th Edition as necessary. Switching to the new MLA edition challenged us, but we worked together to learn and apply the new rules. Modern editorial work extends far beyond the stereotype of maniacally inserting commas and marking up papers with red pens. Most of the edits we made actually dealt with the slight innuendos of style—where to use a colon instead of an em-dash, where to use an em-dash instead of a hyphen—the choices that set professional work apart from undergraduate essays. Before this summer, I had a good understanding of grammar, but now I find myself going beyond a simple spell-check and scanning for even the minutest of details.
We also spent a good portion of our time on the Microsoft Word help page because dealing with finicky footnotes turned out to be a more complicated task than at first glance. For our works cited pages, we toyed with a software program called Zotero, which, as one might imagine, also led to several hours of scrolling through help forums. As it turns out, editing in the 21st century involves more than loose-leaf paper and a hard copy of the dictionary.
Overall, I consider this summer an invaluable experience in literary analysis, editorial style, and even computer proficiency. I have no doubt the skills I sharpened will prove useful in the years to come. While setting sail can indeed expand one’s options, as it turns out, there’s plenty to learn in the harbor too.
Sigma Tau Delta Summer Internship Stipend
Sigma Tau Delta offers funding for current undergraduate and graduate student members accepting non- or low-paying summer internships. The Summer Internship Stipend is a competitive program providing a limited number of stipends of up to $1,500 each
The internship must involve working for an “organization” while being directed by a supervisor/mentor within that organization, and the internship’s duties must be consistent with the applicant’s level of education, area of study, and career goals. Financial need will be taken into consideration in addition to internship length. Applicants are responsible for obtaining and providing verification of the internship. Please review the application guidelines for additional information.
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