>Competing Internships

>Like any intern worth her second-hand briefcase, I applied to several internships simultaneously for the upcoming semester. While most inquiries yielded no reply at all, two valuable opportunities arose. Grateful for something that work with my schedule and teach me things I didn’t already know, I accepted the first position that came my way, completely forgetting that I had inquired elsewhere and hadn’t heard back. Sure enough, a week or so after I had accepted the internship a literary agency in New Jersey had offered me, Princeton University Press got in touch to invite me for an interview. I knew that if I interviewed, I probably would have had the position. Although the word “Princeton” anywhere on my resume would have been a boost, I declined to interview with them.

Friends told me I was crazy, family told me I should dump that literary agency and hop on the ivy-league bus. But I have a conscience. And the literary agency that offered the internship seems like a great opportunity. Although they specialize mostly in romance, a genre I don’t expect to work with in my career (I’m most knowledgable about literary and mainstream fiction) I have a feeling my time at the agency will be worth my while. I wanted to get a glimpse of the industry from an agent’s point-of-view and that’s exactly what I’ll get.

If I had had the choice, I would have taken Princeton because of their “brand name”. But things happen for a reason and I expect to learn something valuable about at the agency I might not have at Princeton University Press. Would the agency have collapsed without the help of this intern? Um, no. They would have found someone else, perhaps someone better, even. But when a person commits to something, they shouldn’t go back on their word. It’s unprofessional.

My advice to all of you? When you’ve applied for several opportunities, upon an offer, get in touch with the other companies (before you accept) to let them know you’ve gotten an offer and give it a week. If there’s still no response, accept the offer. This way, you’re allowing yourself the choice (if it’s available) of more than one experience, while also being professional. And don’t worry! The other company won’t mind your taking the time to “think about it” for a week or so. Next time, I’ll take my own advice!

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Posted on December 13, 2009, in internship, literary agency, offer, publishing. Bookmark the permalink. 7 Comments.

  1. Dear Lauren,

    I am a new but frequent reader of your blog and just discovered you due to the Love YA interview you gave. First of all, I greatly respect and admire you. I felt an instant connection with your words and what I felt you represented as a person and an agent. I found you extremely likeable and worth watching. However, in this blog post where you said “If I had had the choice, I would have taken Princeton,” it makes me think that you are/were regretting your decision of choosing BookEnds despite doing the right thing and keeping to your word. Perhaps I’m misinterpreting it, or perhaps the timeframe is iffy in my head, but if this internship led to your current job as a book agent, wouldn’t some of those feelings have carried over? I’m assuming (yes, “ass”) that the Princeton University Press publishes mostly/only scholarly works and is, therefore, a far cry from fiction (especially fantasy/sci-fi). Does part of you regret becoming a literary agent for fiction? Was that just another option you were open to in your career at the time? Are you glad you got into this side of the business instead?

    I apologize if this comes across as an attack. I do not mean it to be in any way, shape, or form. As I mentioned above, I deeply respect you and what you’re doing here and will like to (eventually) send you a query as well regardless. I ask solely from the standpoint of an author looking for a the best agent to represent her work and manage her career.

    Thank you for all the time you put into your blog. I found it very insightful!

  2. >Loved your BookEnds post and your professionalism. I'm thinking you have the makings of a wonderful career ahead of you. Best wishes to you as you complete your degree.

  3. >OK, so I found you on BookEnds' blog, where your guest post made me feel better, even inspired to have young eyes like yours reading my queries. So I'm following you because I'm convinced you're going places. And I want to watch it happen for you 😉

  4. >Lauren, I just read your post over at BookEnds and, as a writer, I think your perspective on the publishing world is so nice to have!

  5. >Excellent advice, Lauren. And an even better experience from which to learn. You'd do wonderfully in either position, I'm certain.

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