SPI’s Message in a Bottle

It only took six weeks for our Summer Publishing Institute (SPI) students to become industry experts, to change career paths, to expand their networks—just six weeks to transform from “SPI Students” to “SPI Alumni.” As we say “see you later” (never goodbye!) to our 2016 Class, we wanted to give them a chance to reflect on everything they learned this summer and pass their newfound wisdom on to the next generation. Read on to hear their from-the-heart  advice:


After six intense weeks learning about the publishing industry—covering everything from legacy brands to digital-only startups—what was your biggest takeaway from this summer?

“I’ve finally learned about the industry. Before, it was just this far-away dream in a far-away land that I couldn’t quite picture, yet knew that I wanted. Now I have a concrete idea of what life would be like working in publishing and living in New York City.”
—Caleigh Gran

“I was surprised about how important networking is. I realize networking is an important part of any industry, but it seems particularly important in this one—not just for jobs, but for being aware of everything that’s going on.”
—Dimana Tzvetkova

“The most surprising thing I learned is just how small the publishing industry is. Everyone knows everyone, so don’t burn bridges!”
—Katherine Pribysh

“I learned that I like Publicity (I had always thought of it as a dirty word) and that I should be okay with being flexible in my pursuits.”
—Chelsea Villareal

“I came in with the intention of learning about the one particular job that interested me initially, but I came away knowing that there are so many different positions in publishing that I know I would enjoy. If I hadn’t been open to learning about other positions, I would have not gotten as much out the program as I did.”
—Mikaela Bielawski

SPI student on an industry visit to the Narativ offices with Jeffrey Yamaguchi, Director of Audience Development, (left) where students learned learned about using podcasts for storytelling and made their own recordings in a soundbooth.


You saw more than 200 top industry professionals speak this summer—talk about a packed schedule! Of everyone you saw and everything we did, what was your favorite moment?

“John Sargent [CEO of Macmillan Publishers and book session keynote speaker] was my favorite speaker, hands down! He was the highlight of my summer.”
—Jennie Russo

“My favorite activity was the App Slam from the magazine session, where we got to pitch app ideas for our magazine brands to experts from Sanborn.”
—Friya Bankwalla

“There have been so many great opportunities! Meeting Lorin Stein [Editor of The Paris Review] and bestselling author Jay McInerney, our visit with buyers at Barnes & Noble—and, of course, getting to mingle on the rooftop of Time Inc.—were my personal highlights.”
—Nikki Barnhart

“I loved Jess Cagle [Editorial Director of People and Entertainment Weekly, and magazine session keynote speaker]!”
—Marie Fritz

“My favorite speakers were the group of agents [including Jim Levine, Andrea Barzvi, Josh Getzler, Seth Fishman, and Kate McKean] who acted out the decision-making process that agents and authors go through when deciding where to publish—and we got to bid on the book! The entire experience was very engaging.”
—Mikaela Bielawski


Winning magazine (left) and book (right) session groups after their final presentations.


As you graduate and move into the next stage of your careers, what do you wish you’d known before starting SPI? What advice do you have for next year’s class?

“Do not waste a single moment or a single resource. And do not expect to be hand-held by the program or by the speakers. SPI gives you so much; do not let it go and do not complain if you don’t follow up! Jump in fast and take full advantage of every speaker and event, even if you don’t feel fully prepared yet. It’s up to you to prepare yourself.”
—Andrew Gibeley

“Be prepared to work really hard for the first three weeks… when they say ‘intensive,’ they mean it!”
—Emily Palmer

“I wish I had known to keep a more open mind about the types of publishing…. And bond with your groups! You might want to kill each other while you’re working, but trust me, once you learn to give each other a helping hand (and go out for drinks afterwards) you will be looking at lifelong friends.”
—Madison Bowes

“If you want to stay and work in New York, start making living arrangements early. Just start figuring out what you’re going to do early, and don’t wait until the program is almost over, or even until the magazine session is over. Get going early so that you won’t have an enormous amount of stress to deal with later on.”
—Anna Janis

“Be present. And never lose sight of your passion for publishing—you made it to SPI and NYC for a reason!”
—Lauren Bettenga

“I would say: Charge forth fearlessly. The more open your mind is for this program, the more you will enjoy yourself. If you take one small step out of your comfort zone, it could lead to amazing opportunities.”
—Julia Sloan


Want to know what we’re planning for the 2017 Summer Publishing Institute? E-mail pub.center@nyu.edu to be added to our mailing list for updates about the program, details about the admission process, and to stay up-to-date with program news. 


Feature Image of students at Career Fair courtesy of M.S. in Publishing: Digital and Print Media student Yan Ruan.


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