WNDB Interns Share Their Experience: Esther Cajahuaringa

by We Need Diverse Books

I remember feeling like a fish out of water on my first day of my internship with Hachette Book Group.

Esther Cajahuaringa I found myself in a room with other interns who had previous editorial and marketing experiences or had interned with literary agencies. Everyone had been dreaming of working for a publishing house for a long time. I was incredibly excited to be the editorial intern for Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, but I was also equally terrified for a number of reasons:

  1. This was my first internship ever
  2. I had no extensive editorial experience
  3. I was trying something that had never been a “dream” for me

After reading that, you might be wondering how I came to work at LBYR, why I was chosen. Even though this is my first internship, I had spent two terms as an AmeriCorps member with City Year (an educational non-profit) and 826LA. I’d worked at a writing and tutor center where I acquired the editing, multi-tasking, project managing, team building, and organizational skills I needed to flourish in my internship. I just hadn’t recognized that my skills were transferrable to editorial yet.

What I was absolutely sure of was my love for books, and the fervent belief that books hold tremendous power in the lives of people. I grew up in libraries and lived in the worlds of Frog and Toad, Arthur, Sammy Keys, The Boxcar Children, Harry Potter, and so many more. As I got older, books would join me for breakfast (my mom wasn’t too pleased about that), books would bounce around in my backpack waiting to be opened during the long car rides home, and pages would even become smeared in spaghetti sauce during dinner. Ultimately they would not be put down until I finished a story. Of course, I had other interests, but getting lost in a book, in a world either real or imagined, has always been an undeniable joy for me.

I just never thought this joy of reading could be translated professionally into the position and place I find myself today. I am a daughter of two Peruvian parents who emigrated here with the firm belief of giving their family an opportunity to dream big. And much to their surprise, dreaming big for me meant leaving Los Angeles to pursue my Masters in Education at Teachers College, Columbia University. It’s been in the middle of my educational pursuit that I have come across a new possibility as an editor, the seed of a new dream.

Throughout my time as an LBYR editorial intern, I have become immersed in the publishing world, working and learning alongside passionate book readers. I sought opportunities to ask questions, sit in jacket and edit meetings, read through manuscripts (the true joy), and even have the chance to draft jacket copy for a book coming out next year. I realized I wasn’t a fish on dry land but one in uncharted waters. All I had to was jump in and give myself the space to take in my new surroundings. The WNDB internship grant gave me the opportunity to fully invest in everything book-related throughout my ten weeks and I am truly grateful.