Here's how Jon answered the questions that you are asking:
1. How did you land your first book publishing job?
I applied and interviewed with some newspapers, magazines, and publishers. With the publisher that I work for now, I regularly checked job postings online and stayed in contact with HR representatives about prospects for hire. I really liked the company then, and I believe in the product, what we do here, even more now. (It's great to be confident in the work that your colleagues are doing around you.) I didn't want to go after positions that I wasn't suited to and didn't have confidence in pursuing. After applying and interviewing/testing for some other positions, I signed on to the position that I am in now when it opened. It was worth the wait. I enjoy my present position in travel publishing.
2. What in your background (experience, education) do you think helped you get this job?
I came into the interview and the position with considerable experience in student and professional media. I had put in my time at the student newspaper in college and later served as managing editor at the student magazine. I'd worked as an editor for a couple other publications while at university and then interned at a city magazine. I'd also been a member of an editorial board for a professional newspaper. I had some administrative experience, so that was a benefit when coupled with my English/journalism background.
3. Do you have a degree? If so, what was your major/minor?
I have a journalism degree from my university.
4. What is a typical day like for you?
In a typical day, I will communicate by e-mail and phone with freelance copy editors. I have a lot of contact with them and serve as their go-to person in house. I manage our base of freelancers. I also assist the editors on my team with manuscript preparation whenever I can -- text, maps, art, and the like.
5. What advice would you give a college student who wants to get a job in publishing?
Simply this -- be persistent. Go after positions in publishing with gusto. Be organized and prepared. Have your résumé ready and tailored to the position, and go into the application and interview processes with confidence in what you already know and willingness to learn from others who have been before where you yourself are now. Do what you can while in school to hone your skills and just always be learning and growing more in what you have to offer.