Answers from Alumni: 2016 Graduates Respond to Your Frequently Asked Questions

Moving to New York City, beginning a graduate program, and meeting new people all while navigating the job search? Getting ready to start the NYU Summer Publishing Institute (SPI) is both exciting and daunting for our prospective students! To help answer all of those pressing questions—and more!—we decided to ask last year’s class to talk about their experiences and share the insights they gained along the way.

 

Let’s start with an easy question. What was the most valuable part of SPI?

“Publishing—especially magazine publishing—is a fast paced environment. SPI gave me an understanding of publishing terms and basics that you often don’t receive in your first job. Because SPI prepared me, I was able to jump right into my position and push myself to start learning faster and more effectively.”
—Hannah Neuman, Advertising Sales and Marketing Assistant, Interview magazine

“The most valuable part? All of the time-sensitive projects. Now that I work in the publishing industry my whole life has become time-sensitive projects. I was definitely well-prepped.”
—Chelsea Villareal, Marketing Assistant, Phaidon Press

“Going through the program, working on a very intense project, making solid connections and relationships, and learning tangible skills—all of those moments were all essential parts of getting my job. Good luck summarizing the summer in a way that’ll fit on your résumé!”
—Tanner Saunders, Editorial Production Assistant, Thrillist.com

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Jim Levine, Principal Agent at the Levine Greenberg Rostan Literary Agency, conducts a mock auction during his panel “The Role of the Literary Agent”.

Tell me more about those final projects. Did they really help to prepare you for life in the industry?

“Even though the final projects for each session are ‘mock businesses,’ they’re extremely helpful in showing you how publishing a magazine or launching a book imprint works. Take it seriously! There were times when I felt like our magazine was actually on its way to print, and that’s because we were all invested.”
—Kim Anguish, Adult Services Librarian, Cecil County Public Library

“I’m pretty sure that having experience working a team for the final projects was the reason I got this job. I was able to talk about working closely with others and making a project work even if you don’t always agree with everyone in my interviews.”
—Emily Palmer, Editorial Production Coordinator, Berlitz

 

It sounds like you spent a lot of time together last summer! What advice do you have for making friends during SPI?

“Definitely make friends! I still meet up with people from my magazine group every week. They’ve been some of my closest friends and biggest supporters here. Don’t get cutthroat with each other; there will be a job for you if you keep looking and keep working hard.”
—Jill Hacking, Editorial Production Assistant, Children’s Books, Simon & Schuster

“It’s important to make friends pretty early on. If you’re like me and are shy and super introverted, it can be hard to do this. But trust me, having someone to laugh with and help each other navigate the city is so helpful. Just talk to the people next to you. The majority of the class was fairly receptive.”
—Caleigh Gran, Copywriter, Virtucom

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Geraldson Chua, Art Director at Real Simple, walks students through design feedback before their final project presentations.

Apart from the lectures and the final project, what part of the program helped you the most?

“During the brown bag lunches, I was able meet more closely with SPI alumni and ask a lot of really specific questions that you don’t have time for after the panels. It was through a connection that I made at the brown bag lunch that I got my job.”
—Heather Smith, Marketing Assistant, Oxford University Press

“Coming into the program, my résumé was a mess. Now, I feel confident about its format and style. I also loved hearing from SPIers who worked at my dream companies. Getting to talk with them about the job I was hoping for helped me understand what exactly a company is looking for.”
—Julia Sloan, Instructor’s Assistant, Texas State University

 

Now that you’ve mentioned jobs, tell us the truth: how does SPI help students get jobs?

“Without SPI, I wouldn’t have been half as prepared to reach out to professionals in the industry. SPI taught me to swallow anxiety and self-doubt and just send that e-mail, make that phone call, or create that connection. Without learning this through the program, I wouldn’t have been able to land where I am now!”
—Madison Bowes, Media Associate, Starcom Mediavest Group

“On a practical level, SPI taught me a lot about what employers in the publishing industry expect in a cover letter and résumé. From helping with the application process to hosting the career fair, SPI provided all of the resources I needed to land a job in the industry.”
—Dimana Tzvetkova, Assistant Editor, Mathematics, Springer Nature

“SPI provided me with helpful contacts in HR when applying to positions. Having the program on my résumé also made me look even more serious and knowledgeable about publishing.”
—Kara Warschausky, International Marketing Assistant, Macmillan

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An SPI student meets with recruiters from John Wiley & Sons during the 2017 Center for Publishing Career Fair.

Everyone talks about networking, but it’s so hard! How important was the network that you built at SPI during your job search?

“Through networking at SPI, I was lucky enough to connect with someone who worked not only at my dream publishing company, but directly with my dream imprint. SPI gave me the confidence and the skills necessary to approach my job search from a different angle by asking for and learning from informational interviews, as well as effectively following up with those who I had met in the industry.”
—Tiffany Ferentini, Editorial Assistant, Kodansha Comics, Penguin Random House

“I had friends from the program give my résumé to colleagues and bosses. Even if it didn’t ultimately land me my job, it was an excellent resource.”
—Erica Haas, Sales and Marketing Intern, Prestel Publishing

“If you are shy (like I am) it’s going to be really hard to get up and talk to the panelists. But I definitely recommend it. Even if nothing comes of it, it’ll be good practice for when you start doing interviews.”
—Heather Smith, Marketing Assistant, Oxford University Press

 

What about your job interviews? Did SPI come up at all?

“I think having SPI on my résumé helped impress prospective employers because it showed them I was dedicated to the industry. It also served as a major conversation topic; they all wanted to know more about my time at SPI and about my roles in the group projects.”
—Caleigh Gran, Copywriter, Virtucom

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Students listen to a lecture from Callie Schweitzer, founder of Motto, before attending a networking event on the Time Inc. rooftop.

Switching gears a bit, tell us about living in New York. How did you adjust to living in such a big city?

“My one and only rule for being successful in this city is don’t ever be afraid to ask questions. Whatever comes to mind, don’t be shy: ask for directions on the subway, ask for discounts at stores, ask where the best restaurants are, or where the closest bodega is. While New Yorkers may seem unfriendly, most are very nice and more than willing to help. And in a place like this, you’ll get farther getting out of your shell a bit, and just asking. You never know where the answer might lead, or what’s just waiting right around the corner for you when you do.”
—Hannah Neuman, Advertising Sales and Marketing Assistant, Interview magazine

“If you have a free moment to relax while you’re in the city, then you’re doing it wrong. Take every opportunity you can to meet people or explore the city. I never had a free day and it was the best summer of my life.”
—Katherine Pribysh, Typesetter, Dramatists Play Service

 

What advice do you have for future students?

“I would tell incoming SPI students to ask as many questions as possible. I didn’t ask any questions during the panels and I regret that now. Also, get business cards from everyone you speak to! I felt more confident after SPI when I was able to contact people I had met at the job fair and after seminars because it made me feel like I had a leg up on other people applying for the same jobs.”
—Emily Palmer, Editorial Production Coordinator, Berlitz

“Don’t just focus on getting a job. Take advantage of your time at SPI to learn, to connect with others, and to discover which job is right for you. It is okay to be patient!”
—Andrew Gibeley, Sales Support Assistant, Special Markets, HarperCollins

“Don’t waste a single minute of your time! You only have six weeks, which will fly by. Take advantage of every single person who walks through the doors, and make friends with all your peers. You never know who in your network will help you get your next job!”
—Sara Jo Lee, Sales Support Assistant, Special Markets, Macmillan

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Students work in groups on their final projects during a break between lectures.

Want to know even more about what happened at SPI last summer? Check out the rest of our blog posts here.

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