On Being an Intern

A few months ago I approached Cirque, a literary journal based here in Anchorage, Alaska, and pitched the idea of volunteering for them. Having just being rejected for additional schooling, I wanted more experience with the literary world, so I could boost my resume a bit and not sit around… well… lamenting. Enter Sandra Kleven, the editor. She, along with Mike Burwell (an old university professor of mine and the second editor), gave me an internship with the magazine.

Being an intern is an interesting gig. I like working with Cirque, meeting new literary minds, and forming connections I’d otherwise be hesitant to. I got to make flyers for the readings we’ve done (and even one for our competition, AQR). It’s fun, and it’s also what I expected when volunteering at a literary magazine. After all, that’s what magazine people do, right? Go to events, promote their stuff, hang out with cool people.

WRONG!

Okay, not entirely “wrong” per say, but also not the only facet of being part of a magazine.

These past few weeks I’ve gotten used to the “other side” of this business.

For example, you know how magazines have a Call for Submissions? Well, being a writer, I’m very familiar with the process. Format the manuscript correctly, spruce up the bio a bit, send it in. Done.

Well, for the writers it is. But on this end – the magazine end – the craziness is just getting starting.

As soon as the Call for Submissions goes out, emails start pouring in and, as the deadline looms closer, the emails come faster and faster, until it’s like some giant beast heaves into the inbox, overflowing it with bios, poems, essays, short stories, and artwork. It’s intense. And I only see the Kellie emails in one of our accounts, not every single one that comes in.

Anyway, those emails can’t just sit there and magically be sorted, read and chosen. You have to go through them, one by one, and organize them, or at the very least heap them into more manageable piles. This is known as cataloging. This past week I’ve gone through over 170 submissions. One hundred and seventy, people! And I did it in a single day. A. Single. Day.

It was intense. Crazy. I got annoyed at all the people who submitted multiple submissions in one document, because that meant I not only had to open that one document, but also save all the individual poems or essays or stories in their own individual documents. Then close the multiple submission and move on. (To be fair, it’s not that big of a deal, it’s just more steps. I find it’s faster when the submitter submits each submission in its own individual word document. Click -> save as -> input title -> done.) By the end, I wanted to leave the computer and read a very – very – simple comic book instead. But I didn’t. I cataloged more. Because more submissions trickled in. It’s a long, tedious process of saving the documents a certain way, filling out a table with certain information, and putting all the data in a certain place. It’s important. But it also takes time. (Thank goodness I have a job where I can work on non-work related things… downtime is wonderful sometimes.)

Yet, even though it did take a while, I’m glad I did it. I’m glad I was exposed to an integral part of the system, because, even though it wasn’t very exciting, it showcased the “other side” for me.

Being an intern is fun, it’s also a lot of work, too. And I’m glad for both opportunities.

Warm regards,
Kellie

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