As our 2021-2022 Griffis Intern heads out the door, we asked her a few questions about her experience at OSU Press. For our part, our experience with Sierra was delightful. We will miss her keen intelligence and wicked sense of humor. We wish her all the best as she continues her studies at OSU, and we look forward to welcoming a new intern in the fall.
Tell us a little about yourself and why you wanted to be an intern with OSU Press
I’m Sierra and I’m a senior at Oregon State University majoring in English!
I wanted to intern at OSU Press because as someone who has always been interested in books, publishers have always seemed like mysterious impermeable places where books magically appear eventually. I was really interested in learning how a manuscript becomes an actual physical book. I also didn’t really understand the difference between a university press and any other publisher, so I was eager to learn more about that.
What did you learn during your time as an intern?
I definitely learned what publishing actually was, which really demystified it. Turns out it’s an industry like any another, just a very opaque one! I feel like there is this
idea that the author is the sole creator of a book, but it takes a whole team to get that book ready for production and into the world!
It was also interesting to see how books are discussed in terms of acquiring them for a press; it’s quite different than the way we discuss books casually or for an English class. The
re are so many other things you have to think about when reviewing a proposal besides just a book’s quality or how much you like the prose.
I think what was really interesting to learn about was the difference between university presses and other publishing houses, and how the university press ecosystem works. I really enjoyed discovering how university presses are more mission driven, and aim to publish work that is important but might not be a best seller.
I also learned a lot about professional communication and project management. It turned out that getting a manuscript to actually take shape into a book takes a lot of coordination and organization between a lot of different people with a lot of moving parts!
Outside of publishing knowledge, I learned so many interesting facts and tidbits about the Pacific Northwest, environmental history, land management, and many, many things about birds. Working in a university press, especially one like OSU Press that is really focused on regional work, gives you a glimpse into so many different fields and areas of knowledge.
What was a highlight during your time at OSU Press?
I think the biggest highlight was the amazing people I got to work with. All of the staff at OSU Press are so experienced and I was able to learn so much from them.
It was also so satisfying to work on a project from the very beginning of the process to the end, where it is getting prepped for production. It makes you feel like a proud parent to see it finally out in the world. I loved getting to go to Powell’s and show my friends OSUP books and be like “this is our book!” or “I’m working on the new edition for this book!”
Another highlight would be getting to attend the Oregon Book Awards. It was really exciting to meet some of our authors and get to know them, and get to see the Oregon literary community!
What do you think you’ll be taking away from the internship as you move towards graduation and onto the next chapter of your life?
I think there are too many things to list! I think this internship developed so many professional skills and expanded my knowledge in so many ways.
I also think as an English major, I’ve struggled with how to translate the skills we acquire into the real world in a way that feels actionable towards creating a more just and equitable world. Working at OSUP, which is mission driven, showed me that there are different ways to affect the world that are meaningful. Helping to communicate critical research or important stories is just one way of many ways to help create change.
We’re excited to introduce Sierra Sherland, our George P. Griffis intern for the 2021–2022 school year. Get to know Sierra and the books she’s diving into as she joins the OSU Press team.