Graduating in Comp Lit in May 2007, I had the incredible opportunity of interning with BusinessWeek magazine (now Bloomberg BusinessWeek) in their Paris bureau.
An intern in this case meant a very poorly paid reporter (I did have that magical booklet of Tickets Restaurant: if given the chance, I would write an entirely separate blog post on how great those are!) but the bureau chief let me pitch my own stories and run with my own ideas. While I wrote a lot about the French luxury market and learned the entire process of running a magazine, I was thrust into the throes of financial reporting when the initial economic crisis begin to set in, late summer of 2007.
My internship with BusinessWeek then led to a marketing and communications job with a boutique financial marketing firm, which took me first to Dublin and then to Amsterdam by way of London and Madrid. I spent a lot of time that year trying to learn definitions of words like “securitization” and “CDO” as the entire financial industry rapidly changed. That year was educational, and I can’t complain about the places I got to live but by June 2008, I was ready for a new adventure.
I hail from Vermont and though I’ve always felt I could will a French passport if I just tried hard enough, I eventually and reluctantly headed back home to regroup. Back in Vermont, I got involved with a local state politician’s re-election campaign and spent the summer and fall raising $20,000 in campaign donations, trekking around to small towns in Vermont and learning the world of state politics. After the senator successfully won re-election, I took a position with the Global Health Council, which had a Vermont-based office assisting in program development and conference planning for their annual health conference.
When I first returned to Vermont I also became involved with a local writer’s center where I participated in writing workshops and working with different authors. As my position with the Global Health Council was starting to wrap up, I realized that the thing I most wanted to do with my life was work in book publishing. Many applications for assistant and internship positions later, I accepted an internship with Folio Literary Management working with agent and foreign rights director Celeste Fine.
A few weeks after my arrival in New York, I landed a job with a company called Bookspan that is home to the largest U.S. commercial book clubs, including the Book of the Month Club, Doubleday Book Club and The Literary Guild. I became the editorial assistant for two of the clubs, Doubleday Book Club (general interest) and Rhapsody Book Club (romance genre book club). While the position with Bookspan wasn’t the most glamorous in publishing, it did give me the opportunity to read a lot of titles and learn the acquisition process. After a year with Bookspan, however, I was ready to move on, and after a few interviews and some small disappointments, I was offered a position as Subrights Coordinator with HarperCollins Publishers in the children’s book publishing division. My position with HarperCollins is wonderful. Not only am I getting to work with some of the most iconic children’s books (Where The Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak, the poetry collections of Shel Silverstein, Good Night Moon by Margaret Wise Brown, to just name a few) but I am also working with foreign book publishers, granting foreign and domestic permissions, serial rights, and merchandising rights. My first independent sale of a book will certainly never be forgotten: I sold the book club rights to Candice Bushnell’s Summer and the City: A Carrie Diaries Novel to my old boss at Bookspan! My professional goal is one day to move into a French publishing house selling foreign rights as well as agenting my own books (manuscripts always welcome!).
Through all of this adventure I have to be grateful to Professor Rosenstein, who stressed often and loudly that Comp Lit students and graduates can do anything that they want. I think, considering my various career adventures, I am a perfect example of one! Moving to New York and trying to break into publishing was difficult and trying at times but I have always felt that AUP and my experience living and growing in Paris really set a solid foundation to know that you really can do anything you set your mind to.