Every so often, we’ll chat with an alum about what they do and how they got there. Today we catch up with Lauren Bucca ’13, English, who, after an internship in the Medieval Manuscripts Library at the Walters Art Museum and graduate studies at the University of Durham, now works for the Rowman & Littlefield publishing company.
Name: Lauren Bucca
Job Title: Publicity Assistant, Rowman & Littlefield
Major/Minor: English, double minor in History and Medieval and Early Modern Studies
Grad Year: 2013
The world of publishing is a kind of haven for someone with deep literary inclinations. I have always been interested in book publishing, having been intrigued by the way a manuscript becomes a finished product. But I didn’t think I could get into publishing, since I had always heard that it was competitive and had never before interned with a publishing company. I applied to many publishing jobs before I obtained an interview with Rowman & Littlefield, and was fortunate to get the job; I believe that my library and archival experience made me a suitable candidate. Academic publishing seems like the perfect fit for me since it combines my love of learning, writing, and communicating with diverse people.
You went to graduate school at the University of Durham in England. What was that like?
I loved my experience in Durham, England, mostly because it was the ideal location for studying medieval history and literature. Durham is situated on a peninsula, and is an idyllic medieval city with a castle, cathedral, and winding cobblestone streets. The university also provided a unique experience, since it is separated into different colleges which were essentially hubs for social events (including Harry Potter-like dinners, complete with black robe attire). I even joined the graduate rowing team of my college as a coxswain, which was a challenging experience as I attempted to steer the boat away from Durham’s many bridges. I greatly enjoyed living with people from my college, as most of them were from other countries[,] which gave me the opportunity to learn about other cultures and to make life-long friends. In my Masters course, I had the chance to study medieval manuscripts, catalogue 14th century charters, and discover the historic locations in and surrounding Durham. Overall, the academic community and beautiful city (especially the cathedral) provided for an exceptional opportunity to immerse myself in researching the early medieval period.
What stands out to you the most about your UMBC experience?
The academic support from my English and Honors College professors stands out the most to me, besides making wonderful friends and spending three years working at the library. At UMBC, I was never “spoon-fed” information, but [rather] encouraged to ask questions and find the answers through my own research. I was able to do an independent honors study with Dr. Gail Orgelfinger from the English department (she’s amazing), which later turned into [an undergraduate research] project in the UK. This project, supported also by funding and advice from Dr. Simon Stacey at the Honors College, helped me develop into a scholar and gave me the confidence to continue my research at the masters’ level.
Knowing what you know now, what advice would you give an incoming UMBC student?
Besides having fun and not stressing yourself out, this is a great time to take advantage of your professors’ knowledge and
advice. Try to see how your current academic plan can transfer to a job. Also, make sure you have at least one internship, because it is way easier to get a job after graduation if you have some work experience. I am grateful that my advisor, Dr. Kathryn McKinley, provided me with an opportunity to intern at the Walters Art Museum. I worked with the manuscripts and rare books, and loved it so much that I continued volunteering there after graduation. Though my career isn’t in an archive or a museum, the skills I obtained there transferred well into my current job.