This time last year I was obsessively doing research on the various publishing programs offered. I was writing, and re-writing, personal essays and accumulating my letters of recommendation.
What has happened since finishing New York University’s 2010 Summer Publishing Program? Well, I chose not to stay in New York City and instead moved as far from it as I could within the United States to Seattle, WA. Why did I choose to abandon my big opportunity to live in New York City and dream job opportunities? I’ll tell you why:
1. New York is very expensive. The idea of working full-time and living with who knows how many roommates in a crappy neighborhood didn’t appeal to me.
2. It’s hot and wet in the summer, freezing in the winter.
3. People steal your shit. One of my roommates had her wallet stolen out of her purse on the subway, and I heard later that another girl from my program moved there and had her apartment broken into.
4. Everything is such a hassle in Manhattan. Going to the grocery store is a fight through crowds, walking down the street is a fight through crowds, going shopping….a fight through crowds.
5. I realized that if I moved there to be in publishing, I might not ever be able to leave.
Am I a whiny, spoiled Northwesterner? Yes. I am. I love the Northwest and Seattle and I don’t care who knows it. I love that I can live in a nice apartment in a nice neighborhood near downtown for $850 a month. Try finding that in New York City. I love that I can park my car on the street, for free, without fear of it getting broken into. I love the water, clean air, and mountains.
But some did stay in New York City.
Some of my classmates stayed in New York City to intern or even accept paid positions at publishing houses there. One classmate (and NYU dorm roommate) of mine is currently an intern at Sterling Publishing, another is working at W.H. Freeman in New Jersey. Some other people I knew ended up working in PR at publishing houses in NYC.
Some others, like myself, chose not to stay in New York. One has a job at Scarletta Press in Minneapolis, others are working in restaurants or went back to their retail jobs or back to graduate school or all of the above.
My advice to anyone thinking about attending a New York publishing program whether it be at NYU or Columbia, is only do it if you are 100% committed to moving to New York. The course will give you very little outside of the big apple. NYU’s publishing program is designed primarily as a networking opportunity, and if you don’t stay in New York that networking proves pretty useless. No one seems to care at all about it on my resume.
It’s a rough world out there in publishing. Since graduating from NYU’s publishing program I have applied for 72 jobs, and have been called for an interview by two of them. Two.
So for those of you looking for some guidance on whether or not to fork over the money for a publishing program, here is my advice. Move to New York or start looking for an alternate career. If you really want a taste of publishing and want to gain some marketable skills, I suggest interning at a publishing house near where you live (there are many independent publishers located all over the country which utilize interns quite often). Interning is FREE OF CHARGE and you gain skills and networking opportunities. A summer publishing program is fun and interesting, but in the long run isn’t as useful as real experience at a real company.