Jackson Pierce-Felker '18

Jackson Pierce-Felker '18Jackson Pierce-Felker is a double major in creative writing and psychology who came to Bucknell as part of the Posse program. A poet and a rapper, he says turning real-life experiences, thoughts and feelings into something tangible allows him to connect with people on a much deeper level. His mother works as a therapist in his Maryland hometown's county jail, and he grew up hearing stories about vulnerable people slipping through the cracks of the system, which instilled a desire to understand how our society can help disadvantaged populations. Though at first the "stigma" of devoting his life to the humanities scared him, he believes that we can best unite humanity through art and creative expression. He is active in the Black Student Union, the Bucknell Institute for Public Policy, and the student literary magazine, Fire and Ice.

Several internships have distinguished Jackson's student experience. He has been a development and communications intern at a mental health services nonprofit, and a case management intern at Miriam's Kitchen in Washington, D.C., where he facilitated a writing program for the homeless. Most recently, in the coveted role of editorial intern at West Branch, Bucknell's professional literary journal, Jackson read and discussed poems, essays and short story submissions with the editorial staff while also learning about the administrative aspects of the publishing industry.

About his internships, Jackson says, "I've learned about the grittiest parts of the system while also helping people find some sense of relief through art. I've also learned about a whole community of authors and journals that I didn't even know existed. It has helped me understand that if you're doing what you love, the stigma doesn't matter."

Lauren Hudson '18

Lauren Hudson '18 Laur Hudson is a senior creative writing major who recently spent part of a summer studying and interning with Simon & Schuster in London through a Bucknell program. In a Q&A with Bucknell student Sasha Carpenter '19, she talks about her experience.

How did you hear about the summer internship program? Why were you interested in it?

I wasn’t planning on studying abroad during my time at Bucknell, but after taking Travel Writing with Professor Closson Buck and hearing how going abroad impacted the lives of my classmates, I realized that I needed to experience a drastic change my environment and exit my comfort zone. The Bucknell in London program immediately caught my attention – the opportunity to not only study, but also work in London was too good to pass up. I didn’t get placed with Simon & Schuster until after I had been accepted into the program, and that was just the most incredible luck.

What did you do as an intern for Simon and Schuster? For those who may not know, can you briefly explain what Simon & Schuster is? What were some challenges you faced? A highlight experience or moment? Did it make you want to go into publishing?

Simon & Schuster is one of the largest publishing houses globally, with locations in New York, London, and other major cities. This summer, I worked in the editorial department at their London location. Aside from the “typical” intern tasks that came with supporting the Editorial Assistants (making copies, breaking the printer, etc.) I had opportunities to actually contribute to editorial. I read partial and full fiction manuscripts and provided my feedback to senior editors, and also worked copyedited jacket proofs and index corrections for the non-fiction editors.

Many of my challenges arrived as I was given greater responsibilities around the office as the summer went on. One such task was managing TMM, which is a database that aggregates information on different editions and formats of books published by S&S. I spent weeks wrestling with the system, but I was able to prove myself to my coworkers as a result.

The highlight of my work experience was being able to attend editorial meetings, where all of the senior editors came together and discussed acquisitions and new projects. My inclusion in these discussions every Wednesday morning made me feel like a valued member of the team, even as an intern. All of these experiences, but especially the editorial meetings, have made me want to work in publishing after I graduate. I can’t imagine a more enjoyable or rewarding work environment.

Have your creative writing classes at Bucknell prepare you for this experience?

Absolutely. Being exposed to the workshop environment and learning how to be hyper-critical of both my writing and that of others made me feel like the feedback I provided on manuscripts was actually significant. Also, the collaborative environment in the office was both engaging and similar to my experiences in class at Bucknell. I felt comfortable sharing my opinions on pieces of writing because of similar expectations in workshop.

Favorite writerly thing about London?

There are so many things — from cafés that became familiar workspaces to people watching and reading during long commutes on the tube, so much of London effortlessly lends itself to creativity. But the last week that I was in London, I had the chance to read some of my poetry at an open mic night at The Poetry Café in Holborn, which was absolutely surreal. I’ve had plenty of practice reading during various portfolio presentations at the conclusion of the semester, but standing in front of a crowd of strangers and reading was one of the most terrifying, yet cathartic things that I’ve ever had the pleasure of doing. I regret not seeking out similar opportunities sooner during my time abroad, but being confident enough in myself to take that risk reinforced my growth as a writer, and person, during my summer in London.