English majors explore the world of publishing through internships

What can you do with an English major? One great way to find out is through an internship at a major publishing house. A number of Cornell English students have recently completed rewarding internships, usually with support from the Cornell Fellows program.

Jenelle Sombret, Teacher Created Materials

Jenelle working on a manuscript
Jenelle Sombret: "As one who relishes in fixing commas and who had no prior experience with publishing, my thinking was initially very limited to issues of grammar. In reality, editors have to consider factors such as deadlines, product line consistency, and expense. Thus, I have learned to think beyond the details of editing."

In the summer of 2008, Jenelle Sombret worked at Teacher Created Materials, a publisher of educational resources in Huntington Beach, CA. She performed a variety of editing tasks for both print and DVD materials, as well as helping to develop a new reader’s theatre product that gave her a glimpse of the full development process.  Along the way, she gained a number of insights that she feels will give her a leg up in the job market.

“I’ve always known that being versatile, gaining experience, and being able to cooperate are essential skills in the workplace, but I never fully appreciated these realities until I was at TCM,” Sombret says. “I was continuously reminded through my experience that I needed to look beyond English grammar and think about the bigger picture.  Reflecting on the bigger picture helped me to better use my time and skills, and it drove home the importance of hands-on experience.”

She specifically learned that courses in finance would be very beneficial, as would the completion of additional internships.

“I’ve always wanted to do several internships, but now I consider that want to be a need,” she says. “As important as academics are, they will only take me so far.  If I truly want an edge, I need to network and really delve into the field of publishing.”

Jessica Jones ’07, Independent Publishers Group

During blocks seven and eight of 2007, Jessica Jones ’08 worked for the Independent Publishers Group (IPG) in Chicago without missing a beat in her curriculum.

“Working at IPG made me want to pursue a career in publishing, so it had a huge impact on my life,” Jones says.  “The staff at IPG were so unbelievably warm and welcoming. I met some amazing people who really took me under their wing and taught me everything there was to know about the publishing industry and distribution.”

Jones says she worked in departments ranging from publicity to sales to production to the IPG publishing house Chicago Review Press.  Her duties included writing press releases, working with inventory databases, writing catalog copy, reading unsolicited manuscripts, and sending out press packets.

Jones went straight from Cornell to become an acquisitions & editorial assistant at VeloPress, a small book publisher in Boulder, CO that publishes cycling, endurance sports, running, and yoga titles.  Her duties include fielding proposals and acquisitions, working with manuscripts, hiring illustrators, and organizing art logs for all publications.