SPI 2013: Revisited

As we prepare to welcome the Summer Publishing Institute class of 2014, we thought we would reach out to last year’s students for some first-hand advice about how to make SPI the best experience ever. For inside advice about how to get the most out of the lectures, workshops, amazing industry experts, visits to publishing companies, and more, read on:

So, how has SPI helped you in your job search?

SPI students attend the annual Career Fair.

“EVERYONE in publishing is familiar with and TRUSTS this program. Employers like to know that applicants have a realistic and informed view of the publishing industry.”
-Caitlin Taylor, Production Assistant, Penguin Young Readers Group, Penguin Random House (U.S.)

“The insider knowledge I gained from the industry experts was immensely helpful when it came to having discussions during interviews. In addition, SPI exposed me to so, so many more job opportunities within the publishing industry than I probably wouldn’t have known about without SPI.”
-Juliette San Fillipo, Sales & Marketing Coordinator, AFAR Media

“SPI’s networking coursework was invaluable. Prior to SPI, networking was a very abstract–and, frankly, frightening–concept. SPI gave me industry-specific tools, current networking best practices, and the opportunity to practice.”
-Niki Knippenberg, Publicity & Publishing Assistant, Peachtree Publishers

“It definitely made me more confident during job interviews. I used to just ‘fake it ’til I make it,’ but the skills I learned from SPI made it obvious to potential employers that I know what I’m talking about.”
-Therese Reyes, Associate Editor for Juice.ph and the Electronic Yellow Pages (Philippines)

“SPI provided me with stories–not just canned answers–in interviews for publishing jobs. When I was asked if I considered myself a team player, I was able to talk about working with my magazine group; when I was asked how I would handle workplace crises, I was able to talk about pulling off the scramble to get everything finished the day of the book presentation. I am convinced that if I did not do SPI, I would not be working in publishing right now.”
-Allison Ziegler, Assistant to the Publisher, Minotaur Books, St. Martin’s Press, Macmillan

What was the most valuable part of SPI, and how has it helped you on the job?

Students celebrate the last day of the program.

“The group projects and InDesign sessions were incredibly valuable. I interact with Design and Managing Editorial on a daily basis, and it’s very helpful to know their terminology and protocols (especially because my department uses different language to talk about the same projects!).”
-Caitlin Taylor, Production Assistant, Penguin Young Readers Group, Penguin Random House (U.S.)

“The most valuable part of SPI was the people I met during the course–other students, alumni, and speakers. I’m still building these relationships almost a year after the course ended.”
-Amanda Oberg, Publicity Assistant, Penguin Random House (U.S.)

“I would say really learning how each individual ‘department’ of a publishing house works and contributes to the success of an imprint and title.”
-Amanda Ainsworth, Assistant Publicist, HarperCollins Publishers

“My internship had intern meetings every week, a lot of them recapping topics I’d already heard about in SPI. At one point, I was the only one in my intern class who knew what PPB stands for (paper, printing, and binding). It’s been really helpful to have a sense of what a publishing company spends money on and what their priorities are; I know what I’m looking at now when I evaluate contracts for my boss.”
-Nora Long, Agency Assistant, Writers House

“Having to be organized and work quickly was key in SPI and has translated to my career. Once hired, I had to jump in feet first and was faced with rapidly approaching deadlines and my own projects.”
-Kelly Knisley, Editorial Assistant, Kumon Publishing

What was the most challenging part of SPI?

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Students present their final projects to a panel of judges.

“No sleep.”
-Paola Quiñones, Marketing Manager, The WILD magazine

“We were thrown into publishing projects in roles that we hadn’t experienced before. I think it was also the most helpful thing, though. There’s no quicker way to learn about an industry than being thrown head-first into it.”
-Haley Leuthart, Sales Assistant, Random House, Penguin Random House (U.S.)

“Time management, but it’s a skill I honed there and something that has really helped me in the workplace.”
-Amanda Oberg, Publicity Assistant, Penguin Random House (U.S.)

“The hours! I knew it was going to be demanding going in, but it didn’t dawn on me that it would pretty much be a full-time job, with overtime! My body had a lot of adjusting to do. I was used to my senior-year-at-college lifestyle of rolling out of bed at noon and sitting in the cafe until my night classes.”
-Amanda Rillo, Editorial Assistant, John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

“Working with such talented and like-minded people. Sometimes, when you get a room full of adventurous and intelligent college graduates working on the same small group project, arguments happen. But these arguments and decisions also happen every day in the workplace so it’s a good way to prepare for the rest of your life.”
-Katie Askew, Editorial and Rights Assistant, Reader’s Digest, The Reader’s Digest Association, Inc.

What are some suggestions to make the most out of living in NYC?

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Students enjoy networking at our annual alumni party.

“Always offer to meet an SPI panelist or publishing professional for coffee or a meal while you’re in NYC; in-person networking is key, and you might as well take advantage while you’re here! Also, do everything you can while in NYC in the summer; there is always something going on. I went to Governor’s Ball on Randall’s Island, and I saw one of our speakers there (Kelly Conniff, the Social Media Editor at TIME), and I struck up a conversation.”
-Juliette San Fillipo, Sales & Marketing Coordinator, AFAR Media

“Take life in the city one day at a time. It’s an adjustment, and is often overwhelming. But if you open yourself up to new experiences, there’s much to take in.”
-Julie Fergus, Marketing Assistant, Oxford University Press

“Pizza Pub, right by the dorms, offers a free slice with every pint of beer. Don’t eat too many slices/drink too many beers when you have class the next day.”
-Kristen Haney, Reporter, People StyleWatch, Time Inc.

“Find all of the free things to do in the city! There are so many street fairs and parades. If you like parades, there’s one just about every week in the city. There are always free concerts, free movies at Bryant Park, and a lot of free sightseeing.”
-Christa Atkinson, Foreign Rights Assistant, JABberwocky Literary Agency

“Make job applications your full-time job. Don’t settle for less than forty applications. Never. Burn. Any Bridges. Think positive. Go on informational interviews. Never give up. Oh, and buy your groceries at Trader Joe’s and mom & pop farmer’s markets.”
-Francisco Tirado, Studio Assistant, Random House, Penguin Random House (U.S.)

“Check out Time Out New York (http://www.timeout.com/newyork/things-to-do/your-perfect-weekend-1), the skint (http://www.theskint.com/), and the Weekend Arts section of Friday’s New York Times to keep up with weekly events. There are a lot of great budget-friendly options on all three websites. Also, when you have the time, walk instead of taking the subway; there are so many great hole-in-the-wall places waiting to be discovered. Finally – enjoy your prime real estate in the dorms while you can. That will go away when you start looking for an apartment.”
-Caitlin Taylor, Production Assistant, Penguin Young Readers Group, Penguin Random House (U.S.)

“Go do all the touristy stuff! Even if you plan on staying in NYC after SPI, it’s really easy to keep putting it off because you think you have plenty of time, but 6 weeks goes quickly and it’s easy to lose track of the time.”
-Morgan Rinehart , Editorial Assistant, W.H. Freeman & Worth, Macmillan

What advice do you have for the SPI Class of 2014?

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Students speak with David Granger, Editor-in-Chief of Esquire, after his presentation.

“Remember that the people and friends you meet in SPI will be just as valued a resource as the professionals you meet through the program. A fellow classmate can help you get a job just as much as an industry insider.”
-Juliette San Fillipo, Sales & Marketing Coordinator, AFAR Media

“Treat your final group projects like a real job. That’s how you’re going to get the most out of these lessons.”
-Alia Almeida, Marketing and Design Assistant, World Book Night U.S.

“Know that you have options. SPI is very focused on trade publishing in NYC. By the end, it might feel like leaving New York will mean the death of your career, but that’s just not true. It’s okay to not work for the Big 5, or even in New York; there’s publishing everywhere! (And they’ll be really impressed to see SPI on your resume!)”
-Niki Knippenberg, Publicity & Publishing Assistant, Peachtree Publishers

“Definitely make an effort to get to know your classmates–the people I met early on in the program are still some of my closest friends in NYC. It was a huge comfort to have a group of friends going through the same job hunt process, and now it is great to have a group of friends in the same industry!”
-Allison Ziegler, Assistant to the Publisher, Minotaur Books, St. Martin’s Press, Macmillan

“This will not be what you expect, but it will be great!”
-Paola Quiñones, Marketing Manager, The WILD magazine

“Take the program seriously, but take your evenings and weekends seriously, too. SPI is 6 weeks and it’s gone in a flash. You are a New Yorker now. Take advantage of every minute of it because regardless of whether you stay in NYC or go somewhere else, you will never be the same again.”
-Marci Geisler, Agency Assistant, The Cooke Agency

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