Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Notes from a Godine Intern: Jessica O'Neill

{Editor's note: the internship program at Godine has a more than three-decade–old tradition of fine young people — students or recent graduates, mostly — working with us for three to four months and learning the trade of publishing through real experience; they proofread, edit, opine, write copy, work sales projects, and even occasionally design, along with the myriad daily office duties we require to run efficiently; they're as important to us as a full staff member.}

After interning at Godine for nearly three months, the most valuable acquisition I have made was not that of a book manuscript or a cover image, but the office’s water cooler — or as it’s called in New England, the “bubbler.” {ed: Jess is from New Jersey} This isn’t to say that I have been given dull or meaningless projects; to the contrary: the projects I work on are usually interesting and always meaningful to the company (or at least that’s what they tell me) {ed: it's true}.

I simply want to point out what a rather epic change in the day-to-day life here of Hamilton Place this cooler has been. Previous to its arrival, everyone brought drinking water. It could be considered typical for people to provide their own bottled water in an office setting, if they are being so picky as to require their water in bottles. However, drinking the tap water here is not recommended — in fact, it’s impossible. It’s brown, to be exact.

Within a week of beginning work here, I received repeated warnings to take care not to drink the water, not even for rinsing dishes. I would not have heeded these warnings, as I’m not typically frightened by drinking tap water, but the brown tinge of the water definitely called the consequences of consuming this water into question. Unfortunately, the old charming brick building where our office is located comes with equally old charming plumbing.

For the first few weeks here, life was tough. I lugged an enormous water bottle to the office every day, praying that I would not need more than a liter. Occasionally, someone would venture down to the 7 – 11 on the corner to buy a gallon for coffee, but most of my earlier days here suffered from drought, draft, and decaffeination.

Since the addition of cool, clean water to our office, however, the mood at Godine has certainly brightened: no more parched throats, or cracked, dry voices are heard talking miserably on the phone; no more frigid, coffeeless, winter mornings; no more frost-bitten fingers longing for a warm mug to hold. And that’s not all: our water cooler comes equipped with an extra special hot water nozzle that provides boiling hot water instantly. This hot water nozzle continuously incites excited discussion from David Godine about the ease of making Hot Chocolate, though we have not yet seen any conspicuous empty packets around. Today, while refilling my relatively light-weight 20 oz bottle of water at the cooler, David remarked, “Don’t you love it? Isn’t it just great?” Every time David hears the “bubbler” working its magic, he cannot resist the urge to comment on it.

Thus, despite the ever-varying tasks I have completed since working here (most of which do not include getting lost among a tower of dull paperwork or running out for coffee, as other publishing internships’ might), taking responsibility for bringing water, that staple of human existence, to the staff at Godine, has been my most rewarding endeavor.


  1. I love these intern posts. I hope more are in the works.

  2. Thank you, Jessica!


  3. Could Jessica coax WGBH into showing Lark Rise to Candleford? That seems like a good intern project (and would sell a few books).