This summer, I set out on my internship with the goal of gaining insight, experience, and references and resources within the writing industry— an industry I had only ever sought to enter as a writer, but which I have now gotten to know as someone on the publishing end at Harvey Klinger Literary Agency.
While I set out to gain knowledge about the publishing process and what it takes to make it in the industry—and got exactly that—I also gained new knowledge about myself. I learned that, in the workplace, I am not only a committed and talented worker, but a passionate one. The work I did at Harvey Klinger truly felt exciting and personal to me, and it showed me that, in my future career, the work I do should not only ask for this passion from me, but be worth the energy I will put forth.
From this internship, I also came up with new questions for myself about what I want out of a career. As I discussed in my previous blog post, I had a Zoom meeting with my supervisor, Andrea Somberg. During the meeting, I had asked her how I as a writer could fit into or learn from the industry, and she answered honestly that being a writer wouldn’t necessarily contribute to my experience and skills in publishing, and that working in publishing could interfere with the time and energy I could otherwise dedicate to writing, although the level of success and enjoyment those who were both writers and publishing employees achieved really depended on the person.
And so, the questions I ask myself now are, will I prioritize my writing rather than go into publishing, or can I do both? I don’t dream of “working,” but of creating, so what part do I want to play in creating within the literary world? And if I do continue to pursue publishing, what specific positions or departments would most interest me and best allow me to also be dedicated to my writing?
Currently, my career goals have come to include pursuing more internships and fellowships in writing and publishing through college, applying for MFAs in creative writing post-graduation, then seeking either, or both, writing and publishing opportunities with organizations that focus on queer Asian experiences, such as the Asian American Writers’ Workshop.
The advice I would give to future interns at Harvey Klinger is to not stress or overthink the tasks of reading queries. The workplace is extremely easygoing, flexible, and friendly, and the more one trusts their instinct as a reader, and the experience they gain as they read more and more queries, the better and more confidently one will perform. Within the publishing industry in general, I would advise students to not overly romanticize the work they are doing—although it is tempting to do so with literature—to be flexible and easygoing, and to understand where one is a writer, a reader, or fulfills another role entirely, because it is important to not let one’s literary passions overwhelm the task at hand.
Overall, my experience as an intern this summer at Harvey Klinger Literary Agency was priceless, and I am ever so grateful to the agency, especially Andrea Somberg, for the opportunity and experience, and to the World of Work program for contributing greatly to my educational and career pathway.