DePaul University Newsline > Sections > Campus and Community > English major goes from intern to managing editor at local independent publication

English major goes from intern to managing editor at local independent publication

Digital Demons: Rising Up Remotely

Chicago skyline
(DePaul University/Randall Spriggs)
A love of literature guided DePaul student Nicole Von Drasek and brought her meaningful work during the pandemic. While quarantining at home, Von Drasek balanced online classes in English and Media Communications, held a campus job, and was promoted as managing editor of Another Chicago Magazine.

“I don’t like focusing on one thing,” says Von Drasek, a rising junior.

On a whim, she applied to Another Chicago Magazine last fall and was pleasantly surprised when the organization hired her as a copy editing intern and administrative assistant.

Faculty member, writer and poet Kathleen Rooney believes internships and jobs like Von Drasek’s are critical experience for a graduate entering the job market.

“Literature is not just books or words on a page, not just a single, static product. It's a whole host of practices and connections that exist among the people who read, write and produce those books. It's a process,” Rooney says. “Nicole's ability to write added to her hands-on experience will make her a more appealing candidate for future jobs, no doubt, and equally importantly is that it makes her a well-rounded literary citizen.”

An inside look at the publishing world in Chicago

Nicole Von Drasek
Nicole Von Drasek is a rising junior at DePaul and managing editor of Another Chicago Magazine. (Photo courtesy of Nicole Von Drasek)
Starting out as an intern at Another Chicago Magazine, Von Drasek assisted with copy editing, organized submission archives and mail, as well as other administrative duties. 

“That led to roles like communicating with the story authors and touching base with the magazine’s editors," Von Drasek says. "When I was offered the managing editor role right before the pandemic started, I was so happy. It was an honor to be promoted during such a hectic time. My flexibility and reliability were immediately put to the test."

Now, Von Drasek manages the flow of stories by proofreading writers’ final drafts, finding artwork to accompany the article, designing the page for publication, and deciding when the page will go live.

“This job has been such a great opportunity for me because I get to meet so many people from Chicago’s large writing community and beyond,” Von Drasek says. “DePaul’s English faculty have done such a great job educating us about how expansive publishing really is. There’s an endless amount of independent publishers in addition to the giant publishing firms. Now I get to speak with those people on a daily basis.”

Von Drasek also appreciates the Another Chicago Magazine’s mission. Founded as an independent publication in 1977, the magazine highlights writing that “confronts injustice and inequality” and values work that “pushes the conventions stylistically.”

“We are willing to collaborate with authors ranging from those with a Ph.D. to newfound writers in our quest to provide as many global perspectives as we can,” Von Drasek says.

Pivoting during the pandemic

A highlight of her experience as managing editor was working on a story titled “Words, Death, and Rock ’n’ Roll: The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Contemporary Poetry in Catania, Sicily” by Ana Ilievska, a Ph.D candidate at the University of Chicago. The piece was ready for publication right as Italy was shut down due to the coronavirus pandemic, causing Von Drasek and Ilievska to reevaluate the timing of publication. The two ultimately decided to march onward, but not without a powerful and honest forward from Ilievska, which reads in part:

“The playful title of this piece has now literally come to describe a real-life situation as the twelfth day of full national lockdown begins for me in Sicily: there are words, there’s death, and—echoing in our paranoid living rooms—there are songs played and sung from one balcony to another. We went from warp speed to Fred Flintstone’s foot car in a week’s time. And we can only run it to the nearest supermarket and back.”

“Ana’s piece was an interesting analysis of her friends’ poetry in Catania, how the area’s artistic, intellectual scene influences their work, and what she takes away from them now that some have passed away,” Von Drasek says. “The story in part is about the vivacity of Catania, but the shutdown changed that. We pivoted, with Ilievska providing photos of empty streets that we used for the story. I really loved that we were able to transform her piece to fit the current circumstances.”

For Rooney, seeing Von Drasek flourish at Another Chicago Magazine is not a surprise.

“Her position is a testament to Nicole's diligence and reliability on top of her talent,” says Rooney, who has taught Von Drasek in three classes. “Plenty of young writers have formidable skills, but in the absence of the tenacity needed to apply those skills consistently and dependably, the skills won't always take a person very far. Nicole has that alchemy of passion and ability blended with the follow-through and commitment to get things done."