Interning with a Publishing Company

books published by DAW

Two months in (over halfway done with the semester, where did the time go?) and you’re probably wondering what I’m actually doing here in New York, huh? Well, I’m participating in the New York Arts Program (NYAP), where the primary focus is to set students up in internships that appeal to their creative passions. I’m specifically enrolled in the Writing & Communications section, though the NYAP also works with students involved in visual art, theater, and music.

For the program, I’m interning with a small publishing company called DAW Books (named after one of its founders, Donald A. Wollheim) for 30 hours every week. Despite being located in the Penguin Random House building, the company is actually private, meaning that the two amazing women who own the company, Sheila Gilbert and Betsy Wollheim, make the final decisions.

Though DAW is small, they have a lot of big names in fantasy and science fiction associated with them, including Patrick Rothfuss, Tad Williams, C.J. Cherryh, Kristen Britain, Seanan McGuire, Merecedes Lackey, and Tanith Lee.

DAW Books is run by a handful of people, so my internship isn’t in one department or another, but allows me to witness all aspects of the publishing world and gear my internship towards what I am interested in (which is primarily editorial, but honestly, everything fascinates me).

internship badge

Lately, a lot of my job has been reading manuscripts from the slush pile (unsolicited manuscripts aka work from writers not represented by an agent). I’m required to read the first 100 pages of the manuscript and then I decide if I want to “reject” it or recommend it for further consideration. If I want to recommend a manuscript, I have to read it to its entirety. With each manuscript I read, I have to write a “book report” for it, which includes filling out four categories: overview, summary, review, and other thoughts. So far a lot of the manuscripts have been…erm, cringey, but I’ve learned that’s to be expected with the slush pile.
(UPDATE: After meeting with my sponsor–who was rather pleased with my reports–I’m now allowed to read as little as the first 20 pages. *brushes shoulder in attempted nonchalant manner*)

At my internship, I get to juggle a lot of other back burner projects, as well. I regularly check google alerts for book reviews to add to the quotes database, update their cover catalog, and send out semi-weekly emails with publishing news. I’m also working on a project that involves updating online information for some of DAW’s backlist titles.

In addition, I have the frequent duties of copying manuscript pages with edits (in case the original document gets lost), proofreading covers & dust jackets, compiling praise quotes, and helping organize books.

DAW is incredible in many ways such as providing free lunch and coffee everyday to all their employees, including me! As a woman who hates cooking and who is currently in NYC where everything is expensive, this is literally a godsend.

As a book nerd completely smitten with the fantasy genre, interning at DAW Books has been an invaluable experience so far. Not only has my knowledge of the publishing industry grown leaps and bounds, but my time at DAW has reaffirmed my dream to pursue a career in publishing after college.

Disability from a Cross-Cultural Perspective

Part of my course load abroad was an internship to finish up my psychology major at Hope. The placement process began months before my arrival in which I was able to express my desires and qualifications for an internship in Santiago. Quite honestly, I did not feel equipped to actually contribute to a workplace environment, attributed  to a limited vocabulary and the fear of not being able to understand the directions and responsibilities given to me. Looking back on this semester, my internship challenged me in multiple ways, but more than anything it motivated me in the pursuit of my intended career path.

My main goal for an internship was to be involved with a population with physical and intellectual disabilities. I have always had a passion for working with people with special needs, and I wanted to see how that could grow and be challenged in a new culture. I was placed at a national foundation that offers many services to those with various types of disabilities. I chose to intern at a location that provides a home, schooling, and medical attention to a population who had been abandoned by their own families. There were 93 residents, nearly all of which had cerebral palsy, used wheelchairs, and were nonverbal. From my first visit, I knew this would be a challenging environment to be in, but I felt that my prior experiences had prepared me well.

I vastly underestimated the differences that existed between the rights for those with disabilities and how they vary across countries. Chile is a developing country, and the rights for the disabled populations are very far behind those of the United States. Furthermore, it was a difficult transition from working with privileged families who could send their children to summer camp or hire nannies as simply “an extra set of hands,” to working with an overcrowded foundation of residents who had no contact outside the walls of the residence.

As an intern, I was able to contribute to the building upkeep and supported the teachers and health professionals in their work with the residents. I can’t quite say that I made much of an impact on this organization, but to be a fly on the wall in a completely unique setting offered a cross-cultural perspective on disability that I would not have been able to find here in the States. I learned that empathy, joy, and friendship can be communicated without a common language or even the ability to speak. I also learned how privileged we are to have the facilities, legislation, and compassion for those with disabilities, and this is distinct in comparison with the rest of the world. As a global citizen, it can be difficult to see the injustices and imperfections that exist across cultures and people groups. However, this newfound passion is what motivates me in my studies and in future career, and will be an experience that will always remind me to be an advocate for others.