It starts with magazine and moves to book, and let me tell you, it never gets any easier.
This program is not for the faint of heart. It takes hard work, collaboration, an ABUNDANCE of patience, and plenty of people skills. While you do learn along the way, you better start prepping yourself now.
The gist of it: three weeks of magazine, three weeks of book, and digital content peppered throughout. You go to the Woolworth Building in FiDi, sit for a full school day in one windowless room listening to different speakers, and slowly but surely lose your mind. The program is incredible, don’t get me wrong, but if you’re not ready for something fast-paced and stressful, I don’t suggest you apply.
THE MAGAZINE SESSION
The very beginning. This is when you meet in a group for the first time, FINALLY see and speak with the people that you will be spending all your time with for the next three weeks, and get a taste of what the program is all about. There’s not really much to do to prep yourself, aside from the homework they give you previous to the program, so don’t stress about the first day, let alone the first week. It feels like an entire week of intro, and you’re still fresh, excited, and not totally hating everyone and everything just yet. Don’t worry, we’ll get there.
Week two is when it starts to get REAL. You need to kick it in gear and your group might start to clash with ideas, but just bear with each other and you will make it through. Week two is when the late nights begin, but as long as you stay on top of your duties you will be just fine. Unfortunately, the many late nights that lead to many tired mornings and far too much coffee from the Starbucks downstairs (or the tiny Wooly Daily…expensive, but pretty darn good) has a negative effect on everyone’s attention spans. Be patient with the other people in the program, and pray they are patient with you.
Finally, week three. The week of panic. My group lost our MINDS this week, and I will tell you why. So, while the speakers are amazing and you’re in New York having fun and making friends, during week three the last two weeks catch up to you. Your designer is probably going to be pulling all nighters (bless you, Hannah), and the rest of you are picking apart the magazine piece by piece to make sure it is as perfect as you can make it.
Then comes the final day: the presentation. My year, this was BRUTAL. Unfortunately, my group was beauty/fashion, and while we all loved the topic, it is extremely hard to show editors in that industry something they haven’t seen before. While we are all proud of our content, and I wouldn’t change a single thing, we were disappointed with the overall review. However, this was a huge learning experience and I think that in hindsight, we saw the mistakes we made and will not make them again.
THE BOOK SESSION
The book session feels far less intense than the magazine session, but this is also the time you want to start applying to jobs if you haven’t already. I suggest keeping your eye on job boards throughout the program, but this is the time to ensure you’ve sent out those networking e-mails and connected with the editors you loved. While the directors will tell you to try not to miss class, they really don’t mind if you go to an interview and skip a few lectures.
This session is very similar content-wise, and I honestly don’t have much to say about it. These three weeks are like a less stressful version of the magazine session, but I think that’s because the magazine session is so crazy and everything is still new. The presentation during the book session even felt less intense, and while during the magazine session we weren’t able to answer the judges’ criticism, we had a chance to discuss with the book judges so they could see where we came from and how we decided on our material.
THE CAREER FAIR
Again, there really isn’t much to say. The program preps you pretty well, so my only advice is to look up who will be there, take notes and strategize on where you might want to go, and keep an open mind. I spoke with nearly every booth, and I left with great contacts and opportunities.
I know I’ve made this sound pretty negative, but I don’t want to sugarcoat any aspect of what the program is. Obviously there are HUGE positives, like a cocktail party at Time Inc., an alumni party with speakers you probably read daily, and multiple opportunities to meet and network with high level executives in the industry who are not only kind, but also willing to discuss your career and help you to advance. We got to take industry visits, show and have our projects critiqued by editors we would never have access to outside of the program, and learn what it takes to make a great pitch. You will make a lot of great friends these first three weeks, and continue to in the final three. You’re living in New York City, and you will be faced with opportunities you never knew were within reach. The Summer Publishing Institute is worth every sleepless night, e-mail chain, and major panic it may put you through.
-This post will probably be updated as I remember more little moments or tips and tricks, so if you’re interested in the program, keep an eye out.-