Reflections and Alternative Perspectives

This week, I got the chance to defend my thesis in a presentation for my adviser and committee member. This was a fascinating and enlightening opportunity for me, and I’m glad I was able to present my work in front of a captive audience. In my final blog post here, I also have the chance to reflect on my experience both with my internship and with this thesis overall. In my previous post, I synthesized what I’ve learned throughout the semester and the most important and widespread observations I made at the Greyrock Review so far.

In this final blog post, I’m going to incorporate some of the feedback my thesis committee gave me following my presentation. They encouraged me to take some time to reflect on the opportunities and tools the project has provided me with for my future after I graduate and leave the world of academics.

A committee member asked me why I chose to use a blog/website format for this project instead of a traditional research paper-style thesis, and why I wanted to incorporate multimedia aspects, like a video blog. I wanted the opportunity to supplement my experience with print media at Greyrock (a completely print literary magazine) with some different forms of online content. I’m excited that this thesis project will be useful beyond the university setting because I can show this website to future employers as part of my professional writing and media portfolio. The skills I’ve learned through the creation of this website — video blogging, interviewing, blogging, profiles, double-entry field notes, and more — can serve as a demonstration of my ability to work with traditional forms of media and adapt to new forms of technology in today’s ever-changing media landscape.

At my presentation, my adviser also asked me what I would do differently if I could redo this project or if I had more time to continue observing this team of interns. I think that when I’m making ethnographic observations in the future, I will take demographics into consideration more seriously — gender, race, age, etc. — which I didn’t have much time to work into my field research in such a short span of time (less than one semester). In addition, if I had more time to work on this thesis, I would take more time to incorporate double-entry field notes into my meetings with the team and my overall research tactics. I would also get more direct quotes from other interns about their experiences throughout the semester if I could do this project over again.

I genuinely appreciate the things I’ve learned during this experience — both at my internship and while creating this thesis throughout the semester. I’ve had the opportunity to learn leadership skills through my position as the managing editor of the Greyrock Review, communication skills by working with both fellow interns and writers/contributors, media skills by creating this multimedia blog site, and collaboration experience by getting and giving feedback to a team of advisers and committee members. This Honors thesis project has given me the chance to think differently and more deeply about my impact and experiences at my publishing internship, and how I can learn more and use this education for my future career in publishing.

In addition, I got the chance this week to take a step back and get a different view of this experience through testimonials from other Greyrock team members. I gave several of my fellow interns the opportunity to read some of my blog posts — especially my most recent post synthesizing my experience of the semester. I also interviewed my team members, asking three deliberate questions. The first question was: What has been the most valuable thing you’ve learned so far in this internship? Our poetry editor, Geneva, said, “I think the practical applications of the day-to-day running of a journal are quite invaluable in preparing and investigating a career in publishing, especially as English degrees are elusive in terms of securing a position in the ‘real world’ for some.” Our associate fiction editor, Eileen, then told me, “I feel like teamwork is something that can be found in a myriad of extracurricular activities and internships, but Greyrock has taken what I know about teamwork and caused it to evolve into something more involved and professional. I find myself observing the way we work through things like layout, design, fundraising, promotions, and even the act of writing and copyediting, and I see open-minded discussion, well-articulated reasoning, and an honest commitment to creating our magazine.”

I then asked: What makes Greyrock unique as a literary journal? Our associate nonfiction editor, Bergen, replied, “The fact that Greyrock publishes undergrads is so great! I actually got my own work published in it last year, and being able to say I’ve been officially published in a literary magazine is such a big step towards making a splash in the literary world. It’s a perfect outlet for the niche of CSU undergrads and the perfect stepping-stone to being published in more and more places.” Eileen agreed and mentioned, “I think our focus on undergraduate work as well as our ever-changing ‘aesthetic’ are what make us unique as a literary journal. Because the Greyrock team has the chance to remake the journal every year, it gives us the opportunity to envision new voices and new representations, and because we focus on undergrads as our contributors, it gives writers a voice and a beginning in a very competitive industry.”

Finally, I asked them: How do you see the publishing industry changing/evolving over the next five to 10 years? Our fiction editor, Ashlyn, mentioned, “I think the publishing industry is still moving towards more ebooks and electronic formats in terms of production (though I think we’re still pretty far away from going mostly digital), and in terms of content I think independent publishing houses are growing in influence because they are putting out material that challenge social norms, deeply rooted ideas, etc. and really try to focus on what literature is meant to do — change lives.” Then, Geneva said, “The direction of publishing … is difficult to predict, particularly in light of recent changes in a global sense. I’d have perhaps answered this differently if the vision of America were not so divided. I think I might expect a fracturing in artistic endeavors — one that will crystallize in new directions. Perhaps some will be ‘revolutionary,’ perhaps some aimed at healing, and still more that manifest in ways yet unforeseen.”

It was nice to get a different perspective from others involved in this internship and in different positions on this team. My fellow interns echoed many of my own thoughts and observations on Greyrock and publishing internships in general — especially in the way publishing is being pushed to adapt to new technologies and the value of a publishing internship for a future career in publishing. This has been a fantastic experience and I’m excited to continue working with this team to create something truly unique at the Greyrock Review this year.

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