College forms new Chicago partnership for print and digital publishing interns

When Briana Shemroske ’14 Googles her name, she finds evidence of the work she completed as an intern at the pre-publication literature review journal Booklist, a division of the American Library Association in Chicago. It’s a pretty cool feeling for the English major, who wrote three book reviews for the journal last semester. As a result of that experience, she continues to write for the publication as a paid freelancer and has new ideas when it comes to her career prospects.

Shemroske and Katie Schleff ’15 are the first Lake Forest College students to intern at Booklist thanks to a recent partnership made possible by Davis Schneiderman, Director of the Center of Chicago Programs. It comes at the heels of the approval of a new print and digital publishing minor at Lake Forest College. Schleff’s stint at Booklist, in fact, inspired her to take the new Introduction to Editing and Publishing course at the College.

“I am an English major, and before my internship at Booklist, my dream was to become an English professor, and to a large extent it still is. But my experience at Booklist has led me to consider other paths as well…,” she said.

Schneiderman calls the new minor a “complete experience. In our courses and beyond, students have the opportunity to create books with Lake Forest College Press / &NOW Books. With our distribution through Northwestern University Press, we provide an opportunity for students to understand the entire system, from inception of an idea, to production, to sales and marketing, to supply.”

Like Schleff, Shemroske had never considered a career other than becoming an English professor and published poet. Then, she spent 12 or so hours a week at Booklist, which exposed her to the different publishing houses and their imprints, and practical experiences such as managing email inquiries and updating and digitizing the archive of reviews. She found amusement in some of the submissions that crossed her desk, including a book connecting the popular television sitcom “How I Met Your Mother” to philosophy as well as a 15-year-old’s science fiction novel.

The senior also greatly improved her writing and editing skills with the help of coaching from Booklist editors. Keeping a review to less than 175 words is no easy task, after all.

“Everyone there was so helpful. I feel so lucky I was able to intern there,” she said. “It made me reconsider what I am interested in and question why I would limit myself if I have this opportunity.” 

Keir Graff, editor of Booklist Online, says he intends for his interns to gain an understanding of the tasks performed by an editorial assistant at a book review journal and some basic insight into the way the book publishing industry works.

“I used to half apologize to interns that opening the mail was part of their job, but I stopped after several of them told me how much they enjoyed it. If you’re a book person, handling books that haven’t even gone on sale yet can actually be pretty exciting. And knowing which publishers are publishing which books is essential if you hope to work in the industry,” Graff said. 

Chicago is an important resource for print and digital publishing minors, Schneiderman said. 

“Chicago is a publishing stronghold, not only for large trade house and university presses, but for the thriving independent press scene,” he said. “We have print and digital publishing-focused students working with everyone from Booklist to the University of Chicago Press to a small magazine that services a few hundred readers.”

Just being downtown was an experience in and off itself for Schleff, who commuted by train from Mundelein, Illinois two or three days a week. 

“There is definitely a different mindset in the city, and it was interesting and refreshing to work in an environment a little bit different from what I’m used to,” she said.

Graff expects the relationship with Lake Forest College to continue.

“Briana and Katie were more than satisfactory—both of them excellent, really—and I’m happy to report that another Lake Forest College intern, Biz Hyzy ’14, recently started with us,” he said. “We’ve been very pleased by the poise and professionalism of the Lake Forest College interns so far. I look forward to working with more of them in the years to come.”