Monday, February 28, 2011

TKA's New Intern

Hello everyone! My name is Whitney, and I am a new intern at The Knight Agency. This will be my first season working with TKA. This is also my first time formally blogging about myself, and I would like to take this opportunity to tell you more of who I am and how I ended up at this agency.

I am a junior (one more year left!) at the University of Georgia in Athens. I am an English major, and have known I wanted to pursue a career in the publishing industry since I began college. I could tell you why this career path “called” to me, but everyone in this industry began for the same reason, a passion to read, which I no doubt possess. While growing up in Atlanta, Ga, my family called me Belle (from Beauty and the Beast) because I would walk around the house with my nose in a book. Reading is something I have always loved, but I never considered this path as a career until I started applying to colleges. I had this gut feeling that English would bring me to do something I love. I never before thought of reading as a potential career path, but English was placed on all of my applications. Looking back, I have to say I am happy I made that decision.

After a “major” crisis my freshman year I realized, regardless of career choice, I would need to gain experience and build a resume in order to gain a basic understanding of publishing since there were no classes offered at UGA to teach me about this business. As an English major you learn to read and write A LOT, which is helpful, but it doesn’t teach you what publishing industry jobs are, or what professionals within the business actually do. So I started to research and apply potential opportunities to help further my understanding of the field. I am in a sorority at the UGA, and I quickly realized what great networking opportunities it provides, and it was a great place to start my internship hunt.

Through our list serve I found a position as a blogger for an international Greek magazine. In all honesty, I was simply eager to add something to my resume, and I took the opportunity to apply. This internship was the perfect position to ease me into the world of interning. I simply wrote every few days about the sorority events that were occurring on campus and how they turned out. It was done on my own time and there was no one checking up on me. I realize now how leisurely this program was compared to my more recent internships. This internship became tedious VERY quickly. I understood that blogging was not teaching me anything about the industry I craved to learn about. There was no editor making comments and really no communication with the magazine itself. It was kind of just a volunteer status, and taught me nothing whatsoever. I didn’t even receive feed back to improve my writing. It was a start though, and this seemingly unhelpful internship opened up my next opportunity.

If I have learned one thing in the competitive field of interning, it is to take what you can get. The magazine internship seemed unhelpful in reaching my aspirations, but that simple position on my resume landed me an AMAZING internship with The Global Text Project (an organization on the UGA campus). The internship coordinator was interested in me simply because that magazine, which I had been writing for, held an international audience. It is surprising how one thing will lead you to the next. This unexpected and positive transition taught me to appreciate every opportunity I am given to improve myself because you never know how you will find the next one. I truly believe that life always leads you to where you need to be, and that simple addition to my resume allowed me to work at a much more educational program. The Global Text Project dealt with solely with college textbooks. We reformatted, edited and internationalized each individual text in order to upload those books to our website for free access across the world. It is a non for profit organization trying to give 3rd world countries equal access to education. I worked there for a year and headed acquisitions, which gave me some insight into speaking and communication with authors of the textbooks. This job title made me realize how much I enjoyed this type of work. I have always considered myself a “people person” and communicating with authors was something that naturally appealed to me. This role within GTP gave me what I needed most—practices an area I would potentially consider as a career. It made me realize all the possibilities that were available in this area, and helped me realize how much I enjoyed communicating with authors. The program was amazing, and the small group allowed us to become close quickly and work as an intimate team. I learned that I love that type of working environment because of the casual yet motivated atmosphere.
As I began to understand more of what appealed to me, I decided I should immerse myself in the publishing industry itself. My desire to see the publishing process firsthand was satisfied through a short, but sweet summer internship at Peachtree Publishing, a children’s book publishing company. After a hardworking year, I finally made it inside the publishing industry. This internship really opened my eyes because it showed me how a publishing company functions. There are lots of tedious, but important, jobs that I never even thought of all wrapped up in the business.

JUST SO YOU KNOW: interns read slush. I knew this was part of the process, but I guess I imagined there were so many books being published that the slush was not a priority. I quickly realized there was a lot more work to finding a book to publish then I initially realized. Authors do not come and place a perfectly edited piece on your desk. I was just really shocked by how much there was. I will not lie and say everything I read was interesting. There were a lot of unusual stories, and it was almost like looking for a needle in a haystack for a publishable query. Slush was not all I did while interning though! When I needed a break I would go to the warehouse and fold book jackets to put on the hardback books that needed to be shipped. You would think someone created a machine to do that, but every book with a jacket was folded by hand. Weird, huh? But before all you aspiring interns sigh in annoyance, let me tell you this: EVERYONE there was doing the same thing. No matter what your position at the company, you would fold jackets and read slush. It is just a part of the business, and I never really thought about the importance of such seemingly small jobs. You have to read queries to find books to publish, and the covers of the books have to be put on for the bookstores to sell. Just being in a publishing company helped me learn how it functions and the process in acquiring books. This introduction helped me tremendously and showed me the reality of the business I was striving to enter.

During that summer, I was talking with my uncle about my publishing internship and what I was learning. He gave me a contact of an old friend who used to work at WW & Norton and is now retired. I spoke with him about the industry and he gave me helpful advice, but one thing that caught my attention was when he mentioned his wife used to be a literary agent. A what? I had no idea what that even was. When I got back to school, I emailed one of the women I worked with at Peachtree Publishing and asked them if they worked with literary agents (at this point I was still hazy on how they exactly fit between author and publisher). She told me they did, but did not go into great of detail about how they worked together.

My curiosity, as always, was piqued and like any good researcher I Googled “literary agency”. I found many agencies through my search and began to look at their websites to try and find a better idea of what this division of publishing did. To my surprise , I stumbled upon one in my own backyard, The Knight Agency…located in Madison, GA…30 minutes from Athens. Wow. Call it fate or luck or anything else, but I immediately knew I needed to jump at this opportunity. This brings me to my current position, two months working at The Knight Agency. I am now here as an intern learning LOTS of new stuff. Each of my previous internships has helped me come closer to finding a career I love. So far, The Knight Agency has been the most educational internship in which I have participated. After taking all those internship had to offer, I realized I wanted more. The more I learned the more I realized how much more there was to know. Here I am working directly with authors and aiding in the publication of books. My two favorite things have come together through the Knight Agency. My goal is to learn as much as I can, and from there find somewhere I am successful and happy. I think that loving what you do is the most important thing, and so far I am loving it.


Blogger Julie Butcher said...

Welcome Intern Whitney!
I'm the troublemaker :D

Monday, February 28, 2011 at 2:30:00 PM EST  
Blogger Heather said...

Congratulations on joining The Knight Agency team Whitney!

Monday, February 28, 2011 at 3:39:00 PM EST  
Blogger Unknown said...

It's nice to meet you, Whitney.

There's a lot to be said for loving what you do more than Godiva. :)

Monday, February 28, 2011 at 4:08:00 PM EST  
Blogger Kylie Griffin said...

The passion you have for this industry is clear in your post, Whitney.

Have fun learning about the job and gaining knowledge about the industry! TKA have some very experienced "jedi masters" .

I wish you success!

Monday, February 28, 2011 at 4:20:00 PM EST  
Blogger Kristen Painter said...

Welcome! TKA is made of awesome.

Monday, February 28, 2011 at 10:25:00 PM EST  
Blogger Rain Maiden said...

Glad your here Whitney. It's awesome that you found your niche and the Knight Agency.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011 at 12:19:00 PM EST  
Anonymous Jenna Kernan said...

Welcome to TKA Whitney! It's nice to get to know you and wonderful for you to have found work in a profession you love.

Saturday, March 26, 2011 at 10:00:00 AM EDT  

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