This summer, I had the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to complete the Columbia Publishing Course at Columbia University in New York City. Being from Texas, this was quite an adventure, but it was an easy occasion to say yes to—I have always wanted to be in New York City (and the publishing industry).
I was nervous though, because I actually didn’t have that much insider knowledge about publishing, besides what I learned in my internship at D Magazine. To make things even more intimidating, I had never been involved in the Northeastern university/Ivy League discourse. The community surrounding schools is so much different than anywhere I’ve ever been. There is much more competition and ranking. It’s weird and intriguing.
Anyway, I just wanted to make a list about the greatest aspects of the Columbia Publishing Course, in my opinion.
- Shaye Areheart: Shaye Areheart is the director of the course. Shaye is our leader and our queen, but she isn’t a figurehead. She is our advocate. Shaye’s goal is to allow us to learn as much as we can about publishing, and then help us land a job that fits our goals and skill sets. Shaye is firm but loving, and when you come to her overwhelmed and unsure about life, she will comfort you and bring you hope. I know, because this happened to me.
- The speakers: The speakers at the course were phenomenal. This is thanks to Shaye (see number 1). We heard from professionals across book, magazine, and digital publishing. The speakers that resonated most with me were Wendy Lamb, Kate Lloyd, Christopher Cerf, Sadie Stein, and John Glusman.
- Sherry Hour: This is a Columbia Publishing Course tradition, and it’s not just exciting because of the free wine. Sherry Hour taught me the importance of networking, not just with professionals, but also with peers. The other graduates of the course are the people who I will be working with throughout my career. Sadie Stein mentioned this in her talk as well. As students of the course, we are all each other’s advocates, and we should foster relationships with one another.
- Learning that print isn’t dead: As much as it seems like this is the case, it’s not true. In fact, there has been a decline in e-book sales lately, especially when it comes to children’s books. Print is very much alive!
- Finding out publishing professionals are nice people: I don’t know about others in the course, but I came to the program apprehensive. I was pretty much afraid of publishing professionals as a whole. They seemed so far up the ladder, and frankly, I didn’t think they would be kind or interested in what I had to say. Overall, I’ve found quite the opposite to be true. The majority of the people I have met are kind and genuine—even humble about their vast success. That’s not to say that I haven’t heard horror stories of crazy bosses, but overall the industry is made up of smart, caring people.
- Learning that publishing is made up of all the friends you wish you always had. I don’t know about you, but through elementary school, middle school, high school, and even part of college, I felt like I was the only person who loved learning. The extra reading homework didn’t bother me, book reports were fun, and the shoebox diorama project in 4th grade was my jam. These things are true for almost everyone else in the course, and industry. It’s a wonderful, intellectual community.
So, if you are considering the Columbia Publishing Course, don’t hesitate. Apply now and give it all you have!