McIntosh & Otis Internship: Preparation for a Dream Career

Lisa BonvissutoLisa Bonvissuto
2015 Sigma Tau Delta Summer Internship Stipend Recipient
Beta Delta Chapter
Marquette University, Milwaukee, WI

This summer, I interned at McIntosh & Otis, Inc. Literary Agency in New York City. I had been working remotely for McIntosh & Otis for the past few months, but I knew being in the office would be different. I would be able to interact with people with whom I previously had only shared emails, and I would get to take on more responsibilities.

At the parkArriving in New York I was thrilled with the energy of the city and my neighborhood, just two blocks from Madison Square Park, and even with my tiny dorm room (I was less thrilled when, a couple of weeks later, I discovered a not-so-tiny cockroach in my tiny dorm room, but that’s a story for another day).

At the office, I quickly became immersed in my work: reading manuscripts, writing reader reports and editorial letters, going through the giant slushpile of query letters, and writing cover letters to foreign co-agents and clients. McIntosh & Otis is one of the oldest literary agencies, and as such, they have a long list of clients that prompts foreign translations and movie requests.

I never felt like I was being asked to do busy work; from the beginning, everyone at McIntosh & Otis made me feel like a valuable member of their team, and I feel lucky to have worked at such a great office with very talented agents and assistants.

I’ve always known a publishing internship is necessary in order to get a job in the industry. After completing my internship, though, I now understand why. I learned so much through firsthand experience that never could have been explained to me about how the industry works and what kind of skills I would need. I learned about the differences in genres, how to articulate why I liked or didn’t like something, how to trust my instincts, but also how to ask for and listen to advice from those who have been in the industry longer than I have. This was the most intellectually challenging and rewarding job I have ever had. It caused me to really think about the structure of a book, what works and doesn’t work, and what people actually want to read and expect from their books.

City skylineI am so grateful for receiving the Sigma Tau Delta Summer Internship Stipend. Living in New York is expensive, especially while working at an unpaid internship. I truly appreciate the fact that Sigma Tau Delta understands these difficulties and has made this opportunity available for those wanting to pursue an English-based career. I could not imagine gaining the same experience in any other city or with any other company. Not only did I have the best summer of my life working at an amazing job in a fantastic city, but I now am prepared for my dream career once I graduate this coming spring semester. Interning in New York proved to me without a doubt that I want to work in publishing, and also showed me I have what it takes. Going forward, I feel confident in myself and in my abilities, and confident that the book publishing industry is where I belong.

What invaluable lessons have you learned from unpaid internships?


Sigma Tau Delta Summer Internship Stipend

Application Period: February 1 – March 21

Sigma Tau Delta offers funding for current undergraduate and graduate student members accepting non- or low-paying summer internships. The Summer Internship Stipend is a competitive program providing a limited number of stipends of up to $1,500 each.

The internship must involve working for an “organization” while being directed by a supervisor/mentor within that organization, and the internship’s duties must be consistent with the applicant’s level of education, area of study, and career goals. Financial need will be taken into consideration. Applicants are responsible for obtaining and providing verification of the internship. Decisions will be made by May 2.


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