Alicia (Sellheim) Gomez
Year of Graduation: 2002
Major(s): Psychology Minor(s): Gender & Women’s Studies
Current Position: Managing Editor, Journals, University of Minnesota Press (Graduate School/Additional Education: Denver Publishing Institute)
Please give a brief description of your current position.
I manage the scholarly journals program at the University of Minnesota Press.
What path did you follow to arrive at your current job?
After graduation, I was unsure of my career plans, so I went back to the job I had worked during summer breaks: medical receptionist at Park Nicollet Health Services. I worked for Park Nicollet for 5 years as I explored various career and graduate school options. I loved studying psychology, but I could not envision myself working in the typical careers associated with psychology. While enrolled in a master’s of liberal arts program at Hamline University, I took a class on the ethics of book publishing. This class sparked my interest in the field, and I began to think of a potential career in publishing.
I attended the Denver Publishing Institute—an intensive, 4-week summer program that provides a broad overview of all aspects of the publishing industry through lectures and hands-on workshops in editing and marketing. This program gave me a handle on the type of publishing work I wanted to do. Once I knew the
direction I was heading, I was able to network my way into a position at University of Minnesota Press. I worked in our book division as Production Assistant (for 3 years) and Production Coordinator (for 6 years) before being promoted to Managing Editor of our Journals division in 2016.
What advice/suggestions would you have for students who might be interested in your career?
Prior experience is key when attempting to land a job in the field of publishing. Educational programs that are geared toward publishing can be hard to find, but they are a great way to get your foot in the door of a publishing house if you have no prior experience. If an educational program is not possible, try to intern with a local book publisher while still working on your undergraduate degree. In addition, do all you can to strengthen your writing skills—understanding the mechanics of the English language is a must for all publishing professionals.
What skills are important in your field?
A keen eye for detail; copyediting and proofreading ability (high reading comprehension and well-developed writing skills); strong interpersonal skills; an extraordinary amount of patience; troubleshooting ability; and above all, excellent organizational skills, including the ability to plan projects, coordinate between people and various resources, and meet deadlines.
What is the most satisfying/rewarding part of your job? Most challenging?
Knowing that I play a fundamental role in disseminating important scholarship is the most rewarding part of my job.
The most challenging part of my job is managing the delicate sensibilities of scholars who contribute to our journals. Authors tend to be protective of their scholarly writing, and they can be sensitive to the decisions we make regarding it—this is where strong communication and interpersonal skills come into play.
What activities/experiences were helpful at CSB/SJU (and elsewhere) in preparation for this career?
The liberal arts education I received at CSB/SJU helped to prepare me for the various types of scholarship we publish at the Press. I consider it an asset to have studied not just psychology and gender and women’s studies (my major and minor), but philosophy, mathematics, theology, science, and the arts. I graduated from CSB/SJU with a love and interest in many areas of study, and I have been able to pursue these interests further through my work.