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Beyond the Pencil (Skirt): Selby McRae, Random House

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Current location:

New York, New York

Where you are from originally?

Jackson, Mississippi

Education (College / Major):

Hamilton College in Clinton, NY. English and Dance double major.

Job Title:

Marketing Coordinator

Brief description of Random House:

Random House is the flagship imprint and division of Random House LLC, a Penguin Random House Company. Random House was founded in 1925 by Bennett Cerf, and upon merging with Penguin in July of 2013, became the largest publisher of trade books in the world.

Where were you before Penguin Random House?

After I graduated from Hamilton, I attended the Columbia Publishing Course, a six-week intensive graduate program on all aspects of book and magazine publishing. From there, I began working at Random House as an intern for Jon Meacham. I officially came on board in the marketing department in January of 2012 and have been here ever since.

What was your dream job/career growing up?

Growing up, I always wanted to be an actress or a ballet dancer in New York City.

Your personal (office) style in a few words:

Classic, chic, and comfortable. I am drawn to classical pieces, but I also believe it is important to always be comfortable in what you’re wearing.

Style icon:

My mother, Reese Witherspoon, and Kate Middleton. My mother because she always looks flawless and we share an appreciation for an extensive shoe collection!

Office dress code:

Business casual

Go-to work outfit:

My go-to work outfit is a shift dress with black Tory Burch wedges. Shift dresses are comfortable and so easy to dress up with accessories! I have a few that I love. They also serve as great day into evening wear. The wedges are so comfortable—I have walked miles in them in the city and they go with everything.

Article of clothing (or accessory) you can’t live without:

I have a silver David Yurman bracelet that was gifted to me by some of my parents’ closest friends when I graduated from high school in 2007. I have worn it on my left wrist everyday since I received it and am reminded of loving and supportive friends and family at home.

Go-to bag for work and items inside:

I have a weakness for bags, so the actual bag rotates often because I like to switch it up. I always have the essentials: wallet, phone, and keys. My additional items include, ChapStick, lipstick, water bottle, earphones, my kindle and/or book, band-aids, and Goody spin pins (the best!), and a snack.

Morning routine:

After hitting snooze a few times, I am out of bed and making coffee in my French press. I shower, eat breakfast (the most important meal of the day!), pick out my outfit, dress, pack my bag, and head out for work! Once I am awake and rolling, there’s no stopping me.

A day at work looks like:

One thing I really enjoy about my job is that each day is different! Since we have different plans for each book, no day looks the same. This is good for me because I like being busy and working on multiple projects.

As a marketing coordinator, I work alongside the marketing department to handle our paid promotions, advertising, audience outreach, content curation, consumer and bookseller mailings, marketing plans, Random House Reader’s Circle platform, mailings, and social media for fiction and nonfiction hardcover and paperback titles.

Office culture in a few words:

Creative, collaborative, and full of personality.

Favorite part of your job:

Nothing beats the feeling of being part of a book’s journey from the initial manuscript circulated in the office, through brainstorming sessions and developing plans with my team, to holding a finished book in my hands. It is such an amazing feeling.

Favorite book (or author)?

So many to choose from! Elizabeth Spencer is one of my all-time favorite Southern authors. Mark Haddon’s The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time is a book I could read over and over again. I’ll also read anything written by Tim O’Brien or Ann Patchett.

Currently reading:

I recently finished A House in the Sky by Amanda Lindhout and now I am reading Robin Black’s novel (out next July!), Life Drawing.

Paperback or E-reader?

Paperback. I have a Kindle, but primarily use it for reading manuscripts.

Where do you go for a ten minute break?

I take a few laps around the block or head into Central Park (near my office). I always call my parents on the phone.

Hobbies/Free time activities outside of publishing:

In my free time, I can be found taking dance classes at Alvin Ailey and volunteering with the New York Junior League’s DOVE program. I also enjoy running in the park, exploring the city on foot, attending Broadway shows, cooking, and eating.

On Saturday you can be found:

On Saturday mornings I can be found getting vegetables and other seasonal goodies at the farmers’ market. In the afternoons, I usually try to take a dance class. I spend as much time outside as possible, so even if I don’t have anything planned then I am probably strolling through Central Park or Riverside Park.

Go-to brunch in NYC:

The Smith. Any location. I once ate there four times in a seven day period.

If you weren’t working in publishing, what would you be doing?

I have always said that I would either be coming up with color names for OPI nail polish, writing the descriptions for Vitamin Water labels, or joining the cast of Saturday Night Live.

But seriously, if I weren’t in publishing then I would still be happy working in any marketing or communications capacity. I have a fierce interest and loyalty to the arts and can see myself doing promotions or fundraising for a dance company, museum, or theater.

Apps (or other pieces of tech) you can’t live without:

Any navigation app. I have no sense of direction, so I have multiple on my phone. They are extremely helpful for me in the city.

Best piece of advice ever received:

“If that’s what you want to do more than anything in the world, then do it.” This line originally came from The Bear Who Loved Puccini, a children’s book written by Arnold Sundgaard. My father often read this book to me when I was little. He even read it to me the night before I left for college. This quote has stuck with me, inspired me, and encouraged me my whole life.

My mentor:

When I first started as an intern at Random House, my colleague Ania Markiewicz took me under her wing. She was not only an invaluable professional and insightful resource for me, but she was also a good friend as I adjusted to post-graduate New York City life.

In 10 years:

I hope to still be doing something I love, in a place that I love, with people I love.

Career wisdom for young professional women:

My career advice is two-fold. Always be willing to take risks even if it means you are outside of your comfort zone. You can always take a step back if you need to, but you never want to look back and ask yourself why you didn’t push a little harder. Also, in the same vein as taking risks, it is okay to take an unpaid internship. I know it is hard to do, especially right out of college. However if you are working hard in an area that interests you, then you will get good experience and noticed by your colleagues.

Topics:

#Beyond The Pencil Skirt Fashion #Publishing Career Advice
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Join the conversation:

I grew up and went to high school at St Andrew's Episcopal School right outside of Jackson, MS so it's great to see a Mississippi girl featured here! I agree wholeheartedly about being willing to take risks and step outside of your comfort zone. Our greatest successes are usually right outside of that comfort zone.

--Carmen April, Creator/Blogger at Dinner With Nerds (www.DinnerWithNerds.com)

Anonymous
Anonymous

Thanks for sharing - it's awesome reading about someone who's broken into the publishing industry. I'm from Sydney, Australia and it's tough to do here because the market is much smaller... but this is the year I want to kick the doubts to the curb and take some risks and try it. Your advice and quotes are great inspiration. xo


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