Creative Writing

UNCW Students Land Coveted Publishing Jobs and Internships

For many college students, the beginning of summer recess signals a break from the challenges of the academic year. For students hoping to secure careers in the highly competitive field of publishing, however, those challenges—and rewards—continue. This year, four BFA and MFA students have taken the next steps toward their goals by landing coveted positions with publishing companies across the country.

Caitlin Taylor, a third-year fiction candidate in the MFA program and Publishing Assistant for in-house imprint Lookout Books, currently serves as an intern for the independent press Milkweed Editions in Minneapolis. Among the highlights of her internship: being caught in the act of reading Dalia Rosenfeld’s short story collection, The Worlds We Think We Know, by the author herself. “There’s nothing quite as thrilling as having a writer walk up to you when you’re in the middle of reading her published work,” says Taylor. “It was such a lovely moment, and it reminded me of Milkweed’s mission as a small press, which echoes that of Lookout: to prioritize the authors.”

Tess Duck, a senior majoring in creative writing and communication studies, is an intern at Imprint, a subdivision of MacMillan that publishes children’s and young adult fiction. Based out of the publishing giant’s offices in New York City, the internship focuses on book design. It also provides a window onto the country’s ever-changing publishing mecca. “Two of my roommates are working for literary agencies, so we are going to swap some writing and explore the literary scene,” says Duck. “There are a lot of things I’m looking forward to, but just being in New York is the most exciting!”

Recent MFA graduate Megan Ellis, former Ecotone designer, Lookout Books staff member, and Publishing Laboratory teaching assistant, has accepted a position as Production Editor of Red Line Editorial, a Burnsville, Minnesota-based company that provides publishers with an array of editorial services, from sports writing to copy editing to graphic design. She will be designing and typesetting K-12 nonfiction books marketed to school libraries, as well as lead editing several of those titles. “At every stage, the people interviewing me were impressed with the amount of experience I had, given that my MFA is in creative writing, not graphic design,” says Ellis. “I think that speaks volumes to how much UNCW prepares its students for ‘real world’ careers post-graduation, especially in publishing.”

In the fall, Elle Drumheller, a recent MFA graduate and former Ecotone nonfiction editor and Lookout staff member, will begin work for Sarabande Books in Louisville, Kentucky. As an intern, she will work on a range of projects for the publisher, including working directly with manuscripts. It’s a process she feels well prepared for after three years studying publishing arts at UNCW. “There’s some overlap between Ecotone and Sarabande authors, so it feels like a natural transition,” Drumheller says.

These current and former students join recent MFA graduate Kate McMullen, who began work as the Assistant Director of Hub City Press in Spartanburg, SC, in May. “Without the publishing program at UNCW, I absolutely would not have this job,” says McMullen, who also served as Lookout’s most recent Publishing Assistant while at UNCW. “I'm the second UNCW alumna to work full time at Hub City, which says a lot for the program’s ability to foster well-prepared literary citizens.”

Ecotone magazine and the imprint Lookout Books are the centerpieces of the Publishing Laboratory, and provide students engaged learning experiences in publishing arts. Through various course offerings, students read and recommend manuscripts, undertake apprenticeships in editing, design book and magazine spreads, develop marketing strategies, and plan and staff author book tours, trade shows, and conferences. 

From left: Elle Drumheller, Tess Duck, Caitlin Taylor, Megan Ellis, Kate McMullen