Book Launches and Benchmarks

I know I’ve said it before in a previous post, but I can’t believe that it’s already (and only) Week 3 of my intern abroad experience. This week is a pretty exciting one in the world of books and publishing, because this week (and specifically June 16th) is the celebration of Bloomsday and the centennial of James Joyce’s Ulysses. Because of this, there are lots of Bloomsday related events happening in Dublin. For my publishing internship, I’m getting to tag along to two book launch events already – one this past Tuesday and one on Thursday. As an English major, it’s been so amazing to attend events where academics and experts discuss Joyce’s novel. The Tuesday book launch event was held at the bookstore Hodges Figgis and was celebrating a new facsimile edition of Ulysses. UCLA professor Catherine Flynn, the editor of the facsimile, spoke about her experience editing the text and compiling essays for the new edition. Being at the book launch with other people who were there to celebrate literature and Irish culture was such a rewarding experience. Hearing from academics and professors also reminded me of my Pitt English classes, too.

In addition to attending these book events and launches, I have also been continuing work at my internship office. So far, I’ve been primarily working on social media outreach and editing the New Island website. One of the jobs that I’ve had is creating social media graphics and posts for Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. Although I enjoy these tasks, they often involve some degree of ambiguity. Essentially, creating social media posts involves a significant amount of creative judgement and individual decision making from the post creator. Although my supervisor will ask me to make a post and will give me the information that needs to be in a graphic, the other stylistic and formatting decisions are essentially up to me. Even though each post is approved before it is sent out to New Island’s social media accounts, I still have to make subjective decisions while drafting each post. Because some of these creative decisions are really up to my judgement, I’ve navigated this ambiguity by looking at previous New Island social media posts for guidance. Going directly to New Islands social media pages and learning how New Island has established its social media presence so far has been really helpful for informing me how to structure and design my social media posts. Instead of only asking direct questions when I’m facing some instructional ambiguity, I’ve found that some research and individual effort on my part can give me a better idea of what the expectations are for my work.

Another task at my internship where I experienced some uncertainty is in pulling quotes from book reviews that New Island can use in their promotional materials. When my supervisor sent me a review of a book and asked me to pull out and compile short, positive quotes from the review, I again used previous examples to guide my work. I looked at which types of quotes had been pulled from reviews for promotional materials in the past and kept this model in mind while reading the new review. Again, I navigated this ambiguity by using previous examples to fill in any gaps or questions that I had. At my current internship and in other work environments going forward, I will definitely remember that studying examples of work and projects that have already been done can be really helpful for the learning and onboarding process. More broadly, this also relates to a general internship and business lesson that I’ve been learning during my time at New Island: as an intern, I am walking into a pre-established environment and “machine.” Observing and paying attention to everything that was going on before I joined the team can help me situate myself within the already established structure and routine of the workplace.

I’ve also had to navigate uncertainty at my internship in the form of not knowing how long I should be working on certain tasks. Some of the jobs that I’ve been asked to do involve compiling information and documenting research on specific topics. One topic that I was asked to research were book bloggers and literary online influencers. Since this assignment was open-ended (I didn’t have a quota to meet or a specific number of new potential social media figures to find), I wasn’t sure how long I was supposed to work on this project. The main way I’ve dealt with this ambiguity is directly asking and checking in with my supervisor to see if I’ve reached a satisfactory level of progress on a task. From here, my supervisors will let me know if they would like me to do more research or work on that project, or they will direct me to a new task to complete.

Now that I’ve settled into more of a routine at my internship site, I’m looking forward to the coming weeks and learning even more about the publishing industry!