Internships with the Decatur Book Festival

Thanks to a collaboration between the Decatur Book Festival (DBF) the Agnes Scott College English Department, and the Office of Internhip and Career Development, junior and senior English majors now have the opportunity to learn about the book publishing industry first-hand by working with DBF Executive Director Joy Pope on planning, organizing, and promoting the yearly festival, which is held on Labor Day weekend and draws some 60,000 people to Decatur Square and nearby author presentation venues (including Presser Hall at Agnes Scott).

This year, in light of the global coronavirus pandemic, the three interns (Taylor Drake, Anna Dodds, and Siuloong Englander) have risen to the challenge of helping the executive director reimagine the festival, moving to virtual author presentations and keeping options open as the state and the country adapt to changing conditions.

Academic credit is available for these internships (through the English 450 course designation), and I have enjoyed supervising Anna Dodds’ for-credit internship from January through May of this year.

Below is a section of Joy Pope’s DBF Newsletter describing her work with these three excellent interns:

Decatur Book Festival Logo

May 2020 Letter from the Director–Joy Pope

Meet our Interns

This spring, we began what we hope will be a permanent fixture in our programming season–a Decatur Book Festival-Agnes Scott College internship program. It’s been a delight to work with the first three students: Taylor Drake, Anna Dodds, and Siuloong Englander. They quickly learned our systems and began interfacing directly with publicists as we started confirming authors for the festival. Drake recently reflected on her experience so far with the DBF:

“Underlined in my copy of Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird is when she tells interviewers that ‘Other than writing, I am completely unemployable.’ Fortunately, while my pedigree as an English major is what snagged me this job, I’m learning far more than writing–how to pitch on event grids, how to navigate the complex web of imprints and publishing houses and nonprofits, how to work on a team that is an actual team and not merely three people coasting off the fourth’s neurotic bid for valedictorian.”

After the virus closed colleges, our three interns moved into remote work–from their homes in Lawrenceville, Fayetteville, and New York City. With the help of Agnes Scott’s Pepperdine Fund and the “Sally” Wilson Glendinning Award, we are able to keep on the seniors, Taylor and Anna, as paid interns for the summer.

The Pepperdine Award is in honor of the late Jane Pepperdine, a professor and chair of English for many years; the fund supports English majors doing research and internships. The Glendinning Award was established by Anne Glendinning to honor the memory of her mother, Agnes Scott College Class of 1933 alumna, Sally Glendinning, who was an accomplished writer and journalist during an age when women were often relegated to the sidelines.

By August, Tayor and Anna will have learned how virtual author programming works, how to write complex grants, and what a great community Decatur is to live and work in.