Name: Ava Russell

Major(s): English Literature

Minor(s): Studio Art

Hometown: Lodi, N.Y.

Graduation Date: May 2014

Tell us about your current internship?   Employer, brief summary of duties, major projects.

In the summer of 2013, I interned for Swenson Book Development under book development editor Jill Swenson. Swenson Book Development helps authors, particularly those of narrative non-fiction and memoir, prepare their manuscripts for publication. Alongside Jill and her team, I met with clients, edited and provided feedback on full-length manuscripts, researched and wrote material for a monthly newsletter, and posted on the staff blog.

Is this your first internship? 

This experience was my second summer internship. The previous summer, I served as editorial intern for Fresh Dirt Ithaca, a magazine based in Trumansburg, N.Y. focused on local sustainability and living.

Motivation.  Why did you decide to do an internship?

Internships are a great way to gain skills for a resume, but for me, they’ve also been helpful in deciding my future career path. Before my internship experiences, I had an interest in publishing but knew very little about the field. Now I know for sure it’s the field I’d like to pursue work in.

How did you find this particular internship?

I found my internship with Swenson Book Development through a family connection in the area of my hometown.

Recommendations for other students?

Take full advantage of the connections you have. Even if you don’t know anyone directly in the industry you hope to intern in, you may be surprised what you’ll find if you simply ask around. Also, be open to interning for a smaller company. While the name may not be as shiny on a resume, you’ll be more valuable to the business. You will work more directly as part of a team, be given responsibility over significant tasks, and gain valuable experience instead of being just a coffee-getter.

What did you learn about yourself by doing an internship?

My internship experience gave me more confidence in my own skills. It also increased my understanding of what types of writing I most enjoy editing and what sect of the publishing world I’d ultimately like to work in.

Did you have an aha moment during your internship?

There wasn’t necessarily one moment, but my entire experience opened my eyes to aspects of the book publishing industry that I was previously blind to.

How did the internship impact your career goals?  Have they changed? 

Publishing is not known as a field that’s easy to find jobs in, but my internship with Swenson Book Development helped increase my value as a candidate for employment. My internship didn’t change my career goals but rather honed them through a more clear understanding of my interests and skill set.

How has the internship made a difference in your life, personal goals?

My internship improved my confidence, organizational skills, and communication skills.

Describe a typical day at your internship (or the most exciting day).

The most exciting days, for me, were when I interacted with clients directly about their manuscripts. These days, in particular, I felt my contributions were valued. I felt excited and accomplished when clients appreciated my feedback on their writing.