Dara Kagan on the
Major: French and government
Internship: Indexing French periodicals
for the Alternative Press Center (APC), Chicago, Ill.
What are your job responsibilities?
My primary responsibility is
that of Foreign Language Indexer. Each week I read all articles
in various French publications (Le Monde Diplomatique,
Cahiers Marxistes, Alternatives Economiques) to be put
into the quarterly Alternative Press Index, to which Smith
subscribes as an online resource. My job is similar to a
reverse Google search; instead of entering a keyword to find
a specific article, I translate the title, designate a description
for the article, and create keywords that are easily searchable
through online databases. I also do organizational intern
tasks, such as blogging, shelving indexed publications, and
helping out with publicity events.
What are your living
I was lucky enough to find a
beautiful apartment in Chicago's Wicker Park neighborhood,
which I share with three roommates. I love the 20-minute
commute to the office (and having roommates that like to
cook as much as I do!).
Describe the physical
surroundings where you work.
In the true spirit of the collective,
I work in the same room as other interns, the associate editors,
and the senior editor. It's a large room on the second floor
of a building on one of Chicago's rare diagonal avenues.
Because all indexing is done on a computer program, and there
are only four computers, it can be a little crowded. It's
a very casual place to work (any attire is pretty much acceptable)
and it's really nice to be able to run out for coffee at
a moment's notice.
Talk about the people
you work with.
I work mostly with the three
editors of the APC, Chuck, Meghan and Mary. Mary is also
our Spanish language indexer, and a Smith alum, 2007! I found
the internship through the CDO Web site, and was pleased
to discover that the contact for the position was a Smith
alum. When I got the position, I was excited to work with
a fellow Smithie, and it has been a great experience. It's
also good to know that, even though I am not yet a Smith
graduate, the Smith alumnae network is already helping me
What is your typical
usually in the office by 9 a.m., shelving, indexing, editing
press releases or packing up boxes of our old publications
to ship to Baltimore, where they will be archived at the
University of Maryland. If I decide to do a blog post, I
won't get as much indexing done because it's time-consuming
to select a French article, edit and translate it, and format
it for Web publication. Every day is different here. I'm
a pretty fast indexer, so I leave the office when I'm done
with the work I had planned for the day, usually between
3 and 5 p.m. When I'm not working, I love exploring Chicago
and hanging out with my roommates.
What do you like most
about your internship?
My favorite thing by far about
my internship is having access to more than 300 alternative
publications. Not too many people get to make a job out of
reading, but that's exactly what I do. I've had the opportunity
to discover many publications that offer more information
on things that I am interested in, and have inspired me to
subscribe to some of these publications so that I can continue
reading them in the fall. I've discovered this entire subculture
of media and many new and radical schools of thought that
I had no idea existed, as well as a possible career that
I'd never heard of.
What are you learning
from this internship?
I have learned so much about
indexing and the publishing/library industries. Managing
data is hard! I never before realized how much work it takes
to correctly and succinctly summarize articles so that other
students like myself can easily find them and use them as
resources. In addition, I learned a lot about French culture,
politics, media, and economics. Perhaps the greatest thing
I learned was that immersing myself in alternative media
in both French and English gave me an expanded perspective
and an appreciation for non-mainstream political positions