Dear Miss Snark,

I have been captivated by your snarkiness and would enjoy learning how to spread it. (Miss Snark does think of herself as contagion...how clever of you to notice).

Actually, I am just graduated with a theater degree and am very interested in a career as a Literary agent. I'm currently working towards an internship, and am familiarizing myself with Publisher's Market place, the top ten Agent Blogs, and as much general knowledge about publishing that I can.

What are the elements that make a prospective intern stick out from other applicants?

I appreciate your time and any advice you would be willing to give.

1. Knows my client list.
2. Has read more than one book on my list.
3. Has been to a reading in the last week and can discuss the book with a degree of insight.
4. Knows the vocabulary.
5. Likes DailyCandy.com
6. Likes dogs

You didn't ask but here's the list of what makes an intern someone I'd recommend for a paying position:

1. Shows up on time and on schedule. No mysterious illnesses, dead grandmothers, or "tests".

2. Turns her cell phone off in the office. Particularly when her ring tones are Ride of the Valkyries or Three 6 Mafia warbling It's Hard Out Here For a Pimp.

3. Understands that she's first up for every single scut job in the office; we all did it, now it's her turn.

4. Does not discuss her personal life with me, or in my hearing.

5. Understands that the unspoken part of her job is to show us new and very hip things without rolling her eyes at how old, stuffy and soooo out of touch we all are.

6. Understands that no matter how enticing, she cannot have sexual congress with clients.

7. Understands that just because I am sitting at my desk, staring into space, not talking, I am not available for chat.

8. Wears shoes. Wears underwear. Wears clothes that cover the stomach. All at the same time.

9. Understands that the clients write the stuff that makes the money and so we're nice to them. Always.

10. Understands that this is a small small industry and everyone she meets now is in a position to help her out or stand by and let her sink on her own.


Katie Alender said...

11. Owns petite, attractive poodle bitch who understands the value of a Real Dog, and is good at sharing treats and giving belly rubs.

* * *

More seriously, my industry (TV) is slightly different, but my advice to people starting out is:

* Never say "I can't do that." Nobody who asks you to do something wants to hear that it can't be done. If necessary, say, "It's doable, but it will require four excavators, unicorn DNA, and a budget of $42,000." But don't say NO right off the bat.

* Be NICE. Nice nice nice nice. Unless you are in a position to throw snark around for the benefit of others, be the nice, cheerful, fun person everybody wants to eat lunch with.

* Pay attention to details. Learn your business. Learn the parts of your business nobody else wants to know, so everyone comes to you with questions about X or Y or Z, and then they'll decide that you're just too darn valuable to let go.

* Don't bring your dog to the office without ASKING first. Especially if it's a big mean dog who eats other dogs.

patricia said...

"8. Wears shoes. Wears underwear. Wears clothes that cover the stomach. All at the same time."

THANK YOU for telling people to put some freakin' clothes on. What makes so many people think we want to see their hairy backsides, belly button lint, bra straps and thongs? Ugh. It's sad that this lack of professionalism has become acceptable dress in so many workplaces.

I'm proud of you Miss Snark for standing up and saying NO to cracks! (Buttcracks that is.) You are my hero. :)

Elektra said...

This has absolutely nothing to do with internships or literary agents, but this post reminded me of something funny. I went into the video store yesterday to pick up a game for my brother. The person behind the desk was on the phone, very obviously a personal call. I waited for a few minutes, browsing, looking up pointedly from time to time, but still he kept chatting with his friend. Finally I went up to the desk and asked anyway. He does not put down the phone, or even stop talking. He simply holds his hand up and continues his chat. After a minute, I realize: In sole response to my question about the whereabouts of a game, he's giving me a high-five.

Why do people like this have a job and I don't?

Mindy Tarquini said...

8. Wears shoes. Wears underwear. Wears clothes that cover the stomach. All at the same time.

Who knew we'd see the day when arriving fully dressed would be enough to give one an edge.

Anonymous said...

Dear Miss Snark,

I appreciate your tips to sneak my way in so that I might optimally spread the Snark virus. I especially vaule the 10 tips.


Mark said...


Dave Fragments said...

I used to shock high school kids at those seminars on "how o get jobs in engineering and science" by telling them the most important thing was to do what the boss wanted them to do and to do it on time.

They wanted me to tell them that advanced math, thermodynamics and laboratory research were the most important. HA!

Anonymous said...

Is all personal talk equally unacceptable, or do you find some types less professional than others? Is "My brother started chemo on Friday," on a par with "I finally bagged that guy from the coffee shop"?

Anonymous said...

Miss Snark advised:
<< 8. Wears shoes. Wears underwear. Wears clothes that cover the stomach. All at the same time. >>

So, really, you don't hire many interns, huh?

(My sister's favorite game is "Hooker or High School Student?")

Anonymous said...

Hey, hey, wait a minute! On #6, don't you think you should ask the clients first?

ORION said...

I needed to post these rules in my high school classroom.

Dick Margulis said...

No, Elektra. He wasn't giving you a high five. He was telling you to look in aisle five. See how easy it is to be misunderstood? Everybody needs an editor.

Miss Snark, your list of criteria deserves to be on a poster in every high school guidance counselor office, college placement office, employment agency, and HR waiting room in the country. You should sell it on cafepress.

Permission to quote?

Linda Maye Adams said...

All very good points--every business should post them. I'm seeing rude or ignorant employees all over the place in attitude and the way they talk. At one fast good restaurant, they goofed up my order three times--and when I politely corrected them, the order taker acted like I was wrong to point it out. She didn't say, "Sorry, I'll take care of that" and move on--she tried to argue with me as if she had to prove she was right. Unreal!

Being friendly, smiling, and nice goes a LONG WAYS. You are never wrong when you do this. Since I wasn't planning on pitching any stories, I volunteered to run the agent pitch sessions at a regional writer's conference. Since I did learn good customer service years ago, that's what I brought to it. I was nice and friendly; I got cookies, water, soda; showed them where the bathrooms are, etc. At the next conference, I got to run the pitch sessions again, and two of the agents who had been at the previous one remembered me! It really does make a difference.

Kimber Li said...

Beautifully stated, Miss Snark.

In other words, it all boils down to 'grow up and act professional.'

Kate Thornton said...

Miss Snark, this is priceless. I just printed your advice and stuck it up on my cubicle where our interns can see it. I wish they could read.

BestDayEver said...

Underwear? How do you know if they're wearing them or not? Just curious! :-)


Anonymous said...

"8. Wears shoes. Wears underwear. Wears clothes that cover the stomach. All at the same time."

Has there ever been a time where this was not the case? All at the same time I mean. And did it have any relation to #6 on your list?

I sense an anecdote.

Anonymous said...

Bravo, Miss Snark, on every point.

LadyBronco said...

8. Wears shoes. Wears underwear. Wears clothes that cover the stomach. All at the same time.


There goes another keyboard.

Unknown said...

I think this might be my favorite post in the history of this blog.

Ski said...

Just a few decades ago this list would have been condensed under the words "common sense." How is it that today we have to spell them out? How the heck did we get here?