Interning at IPI

This summer while all my friends were lounging on the beach, basking in the last days of summer before facing the tremendous monolith that is college, I began my internship at Idea Platforms. Going into it, I wasn’t sure what to expect—would I just be reading email and answering the phones? Getting the mail and organizing file cabinets? I ended up doing all of these things this summer, but thankfully they were a small part of the whole of my incredibly busy and wonderful experience at IPI.

Most of the work I did this summer was supplementary research and copy-editing. I also got to read manuscripts from prospective clients and design the prototype of a soon-to-be-announced IPI media venture. I’ve always loved research and reading so this job has been pretty much perfect for me.

The first day was pretty intimidating, though. I felt like I was stepping into this fast-paced, foreign, hyper-academic world, like nothing I had ever really experienced before. During the staff meeting, John and Anna went through a long list of names of people and books that I didn’t know and announced imminent deadlines while Hannah cupped her hands in the shape of parentheses at random points in the conversation. What is she doing?  I wondered. Turns out she was using IPI code to illustrate going off on a tangent, a gesture that I would come to see so very often over the next few weeks.

Coming to IPI having never worked in publishing before, it’s been interesting for me to examine the process that goes into bringing a book to press. I draw a lot in my free time, and over the course of this internship, I’ve come to realize that publishing and art-making have a lot in common in terms of what it takes to create a finished product. In both art and publishing, you experiment with ways of presenting ideas and explore different mediums. A lot of time and patience is required, but in the end you make something wonderful just by virtue of the intensity of the process. So at IPI when we copyedit manuscripts, research supplementary material and outline chapters of books, we are, in our own sort of way, making art.

It was always odd explaining my summer job to my friends. No one really understood the concept of being a research assistant. “So you just look at Google for hours?” they asked. “No! Of course not,” I said. “Google is just a starting point. There’s The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, LexisNexis and all these other really cool search engines, too!” Cue my friends’ eyes glazing over. But whatever, I find it all really interesting.

Probably the biggest lesson I’ve learned while interning at Idea Platforms was not to be afraid to share my ideas and not to feel self-conscious about being intellectual.  Being just fresh out of high school, it’s motivating to work with people who don’t hide their intelligence and work together to gain new knowledge. So while I might have missed out on some good days at the beach with my friends before heading off to school, the 2 hours plus I’ve spent commuting each way from Newton to Concord to get to work every day (yeah, I know, I need to get my license) have been worth it to me because I get to be around people who are not only smart, but actually care about what they are doing.

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