Monday, December 16, 2013

A Semester at the Press

By Kimberly Ring

When you are a junior in college something starts to change. A certain grace period begins to end and you suddenly have to answer the question “What do you want to do with your life?” The answer provided now has to be something other than a rock star, astronaut, or my personal answer--a Disney princess.  It has to be something real, and something with a steady income. This is what society expects of you. By the end of my sophomore year I had no idea what my answer was going to be. All I knew was that I wanted to do something in English and Communications.

I was different than most of my friends at Mizzou. I took classes to which I loved to go. I didn’t want to rip my hair out from confusion and stress in attempting to just pass my classes. I wasn’t in the pursuit of simply having a job that pays well. I wanted a job that I enjoyed. More importantly, I wanted to do something that gave me a reason to wake up in the morning, excited about what my day would bring. I was on the search for a lifestyle, and a career that would make me truly happy to go to work every day.

Last semester I received an exciting email informing me that I was chosen to be a Marketing Intern for the University of Missouri Press. After a few immediate phone calls to my parents, telling them the news, I began to worry. This is something that becomes second nature to a student in college under a large amount of pressure. This happens for multiple reasons, but especially because there are professors breathing down our necks, telling us the economy is bad and that none of us are going to find a job. I started wondering, “Am I going to be able to handle this? Would I be any good? What if I’m terrible and they think I’m an idiot?” After pondering these questions most of the summer, I came in for my first day as an intern in August. In all honesty, I remember thinking: “This stuff is just like school work. I do nothing but read and write the whole time and I’m not even getting a grade!” It took me a few days to remember that I loved school. I love reading and writing. Why am I complaining? I have a passion for learning, and reading and writing about works of literature.

It took me a few weeks to realize that this is the kind of work that I like to do. The hours that I spent there every week flew by, without even realizing that I had just been sitting at a desk for hours. Not only did I love the work I was doing, but my supervisor, Electronic Marketing Assistant Kirk Hinkelman, was probably the most intelligent, quirky, and easiest person to take orders from. I was receiving proper feedback from him about how to revise my writing. I learned what was good, and what needed to be changed, without feeling bad about my mistakes. I was encouraged to bring my personality to the things that I write, which has been mostly discouraged in many of my English classes. This was something new to me, and not to mention incredibly fun!

After a few weeks of writing copy and blog posts, we started having meetings about each step of the publishing industry. These meetings were run by the UMP’s Marketing Director, Kristi Henson. Every Tuesday Kristi would take an hour out of her busy work day to bring her energy, humor, and knowledge that only comes from experience to the table. All of the interns had the pleasure of hearing her input of what it’s really like being in the publishing industry. We learned about the ups, the downs, and the hard work and the dedication it takes to get a book from an idea, to the shelves of the bookstore. We met most of the people who work in the office, and they told us about what they personally do to get those books on the shelves. It was eye opening to see how much work these people do in their own way to serve a single purpose: create a book that is original, intelligent, and that readers will enjoy and purchase.

Throughout the semester, I was reading about books that were very informative and interesting. I was given The Chicago Manual of Style along with a marketing handbook written by publishers about how to use different techniques to sell a book. After learning more than I ever could in a classroom, I now am seriously considering publishing as a career path. I love the idea of bringing an idea to life through the pages of a book. I would love to one day help authors express themselves through their writing. Even though I am a member of the generation that is changing the world from a word based culture, to an image based culture, I want to help keep the world of literature alive. I want to help make sure that people continue to pursue reading as an important part of life, instead of staring at their phone or television screen.

To all the members of the UMP team--thank you for helping the world of literature grow, and for doing what you all do best! It was so great working with you all, you taught me so much!