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Face Time—Summer Internships

Dara Kagan on the job.

Dara Kagan ’12

From: Croton-on-Hudson, N.Y.
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 arrangements?

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 out!

What is your typical day like?

I'm 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 and thought.


8/7/09   Compiled by Eric Weld
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