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Publishing Intern Expands Horizons at PDA

Madeline Cusick

Before I arrived at PDA for my first day as the 2019 summer intern in the Publishing department, I anticipated the bulk of my days would be spent assisting with copy editing articles for the PDA Letter. To a certain extent, my expectations were accurate. While working under Rebecca Stauffer, Managing Editor of the PDA Letter, I gained invaluable knowledge about editing through both one-on-one tutorials and opportunities to work independently. However, the skills I will take away from this summer include far more than just how to adhere to AP style, make a paragraph more coherent or catch serial commas.

Most of my responsibilities involved assisting with the preparation for the July/August issue of the Letter. Although this involved plenty of copy editing, I also gained a more holistic insight into the preparation of a magazine, from mapping out the layout (on an actual map that hangs in Rebecca’s office), to collaborating with Katja Yount, the Letter’s graphic designer, about artwork accompanying the stories and going through the various “proofs,” or stages of editing, leading up to the final, ready-for-print edition. Living in a world where media is increasing consumed online, I also saw how stories are promoted through email newsletters, like the PDA news uPDAte, and, sometimes even posted to the website ahead of print.

In addition to working on one particular copy, and perhaps more importantly, I witnessed how PDA is working to ensure the Letter remains invaluable to its readers by making changes to its format that reflect the world’s rapidly changing patterns of media consumption. I was lucky enough to attend meetings where discussions took place on how the number of annual print copies would be reduced from ten to six in 2020 while at the same time increasing the frequency and quantity of online content. Witnessing changes like these unfold taught me the importance of keeping the big picture in mind.

Some of my other assignments included researching upcoming articles or preparing for interviews. One of these tasks focused on another popular trend in media: podcasting. Initially, I researched a variety of recording tools and software. I also listened to a variety of popular podcasts to compare the difference styles and brainstorm what would be best for a PDA audience. Finally, I helped Rebecca with recording a sample podcast through the Anchor podcasting app.

Aside from working on the Letter, attending a training course broadened my perspective about the scope of PDA’s work. I was lucky enough to sit in on “Fundamentals of Aseptic Processing” and learn from both lectures and tutorials, including gowning demonstrations. It was fascinating to discover the level of detail that goes into keeping manufacturing environments sterile, especially because I could compare these practices to my work in EMS. When I am not at work or school, I spend my free time volunteering as an EMT, which required going through a HazMat operations course. During these classes, I learned how to suit up to protect myself from contamination, so I confess that I went into “Fundamentals” thinking I knew what to expect. Instead, I discovered the vast difference and heightened complexity between protecting an individual from contamination and keeping every aspect of an environment free from contamination.

For all the things that I learned, I also feel fortunate that I was offered the opportunity to make some contributions to the PDA Letter. For instance, I received a byline for an article and helped draft a few other short pieces. In addition, I assisted with writing a few press releases. Completing tasks like these helped raise my confidence in my writing skills.

As I head back to school this fall, I’m excited to return to the classroom armed with the lessons I have gathered from my summer at PDA.