Another Summer in the Books

Smart networking helped this rising senior find—and land—an internship in the publishing field.

By: Meghan Kita  Wednesday, August 1, 2018 00:18 PM

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Julia Baker '19 in front of a wall made from unbound books at Oxford University Press. Photo courtesy of Julia Baker.

When most people think “book publishing,” they think of trade publishing houses, which produce most of the titles you’d find at a place like Barnes & Noble. Julia Baker '19, who aspires to work in publishing, was one of those people. But then, a helpful alumna—whom she met through a helpful professor—opened her eyes to the world of academic publishing houses, which produce most of the titles you’d find at The 'Berg Bookshop.

“I knew I wanted to intern in New York, the publishing house hub, so I applied everywhere—in trade publishing,” says Julia, an English and theatre major. “It’s really hard to get your foot in the door at those companies with no editorial experience.”

She knew theatre professor Jim Peck was approaching a year-long research leave (funded by the Class of '32 Research Professorship) to work on a book, so she asked him if he could connect her with anyone in the publishing industry. He put her in touch with Sarah Sidoti ’09, who was an English major at Muhlenberg and spent seven years in academic publishing before getting a job and starting to pursue a master’s degree, both at the University of Pennsylvania.

“I was impressed that Julia had the foresight and motivation to reach out and network with alumni as a junior in college,” Sidoti says. “She wanted to have a sense of her career possibilities long before she entered the job market. I was more than happy to help her with that goal by giving her an overview of the industry and possible career paths, and point her in the direction of key companies to look into.”

This first connection helped Julia find a whole avenue of opportunities she hadn’t previously explored; the next, with Colleen Scollans ’93, helped Julia land her paid, 28-hour-per-week marketing internship at Oxford University Press.

After Julia had applied for the internship, she used LinkedIn to see if any Muhlenberg alumni worked there. Scollans is Oxford’s Chief Marketing Officer, and she agreed to speak with Julia about the industry. The conversation went well enough that Scollans offered to pass along Julia’s resume to the internship’s hiring managers. The following month, Julia interviewed for the position, and the following week, she was offered the gig.

At her internship, Julia works with Oxford’s product marketing team. She’s learning to use a range of platforms—from Google AdWords to Adobe Photoshop—that are used in various facets of the publishing industry. “If I want to someday move from marketing to editorial or advertising or copywriting, I have the flexibility to learn some of those skills,” Julia says. “The internship is very oriented to what I want to learn about the field.”