Features

Life After Goucher: Isabel DaSilva ‘16

Responses collected by Erika DiPasquale, Associate EditorGraduationPic-2.jpg

What have you been up to since graduation?

I’ve been interested in publishing since about halfway through my time at Goucher and I’d had editorial internships at W. W. Norton & Company and at BookReporter.com during college. So, right after graduating, I attended the Columbia Publishing Course (CPC), a six-week long, intensive course on all aspects of book, magazine, and digital media publishing. The course was structured with two weeks of lectures on the book industry, a week for the book workshop, two weeks of lectures on magazine and online publications, and a week for the magazine workshop. We also had sessions that allowed us to develop our resumes and cover letters, as well as individual meetings with the director the program, Shaye Areheart. There was a line-up of amazing speakers who came to speak with us: we got to hear from editors and publishers (like Morgan Entrekin from Grove/Atlantic, Liese Mayer from Scribner, Chris Jackson from One World, Nico Pfund from Oxford University Press, etc.), authors (Tayari Jones and Eddie Huang), along with agents, publicists, marketing directors, book jacket designers, and sales directors. Along with hearing from and being able to work with some of the best people in publishing, one of my favorite parts of the course was when I got to go up to Adam Rappaport, the editor-in-chief of Bon Appetite Magazine, and ask him what the chef Bobby Flay is really like in person.

What do you miss about Goucher?

I miss the proximity of everything. I miss having friends live on the other side of the wall or a few floors down instead of on the other side of the country. I miss being able to roll out of bed and walk to Van Meter in ten minutes to go to a class or have a meeting with a professor. I, of course, miss all the lovely people who are still at Goucher who I don’t get to see everyday anymore. I also kind of miss how, at college, there’s a lot of energy being focused on students’ personal growth (as there should be!). What I’ve found working at Bloomsbury, though, is that you are often working to assist someone else or working towards a larger goal, and—while that can be extremely exciting and rewarding in and of itself—I do sometimes miss having it be my own work that I’m focusing on.

Any advice for seniors?

Step one: DON’T FREAK OUT! Seriously, everything’s going to be ok. Step two: Have some sort of plan for right after graduation so you don’t feel like you’re just moving back home or stepping out into some void. Having a plan doesn’t necessarily mean having a full-time job right away (although, if you have one, congratulations!). I was able to go straight into the CPC program after graduation, and there are a ton of summer programs for different fields that you can participate in that will likely help you find jobs (or even just clarify what you want or don’t want to do). But even if you don’t have something more formal set up for right after graduation, I strongly suggest setting up informational interviews with people you admire in the field or fields you’re interested in pursuing. At the end of the summer after graduation, I was able to get an informational interview with the head of hiring at Simon & Schuster, and—although she didn’t have a job for me at the time—that meeting has led to several interviews, so you never know where meetings like that can lead (and you also get to meet some super interesting people!).

What do you know now that you wish you had known as a first-year or before graduating in general?

I guess my best advice to those somewhere at the beginning or middle of their college experience is that you don’t have to know what you want to do right now—and, even if you thought you knew what you wanted to do, it’s ok to change your mind. At the beginning of college I had absolutely no idea of what I wanted to do (I didn’t even know what I wanted to major in). At one point, I was positive I wanted to be an elementary school teacher and then I spent one hellish summer as a camp counselor and decided that profession seriously was not for me (education majors, I applaud you—you are fantastic people and much more patient than I will ever be!). It wasn’t until sometime in the middle of college, when I started working as a tutor in the writing center, that I realized reading books and working with people on their writing is actually a profession, so I started learning more about publishing. Since then, I’ve learned so much more about the field and about what editors do and have fallen in love with the industry. But who knows? Maybe in another year I’ll run off and decide I want to start my own cupcake shop! My point is, be diligent, do internships and informational interviews, but one of the best parts about being in college is that it’s fine not to know for sure and try out different things.

What part of your Goucher experience has had the most influence on your first year out?

I would have to say that the part-time jobs I did in my last two years at Goucher have had the most direct influence on the work I’ve done since. As I mentioned, at the writing center, I discovered how much I loved reading other people’s writing and tossing ideas around with them and working together to improve whatever essay or story they brought in, which led to my passion for editing. It’s been so exciting to be able to work for people who are editing the writing of authors for real books that are going out into the real world (seriously, go buy Hot Milk by Deborah Levy—my boss, Lea, was the U.S. editor for it and it’s a fabulous book!). It was my work, though, as an SLCA director for after-school programs run out of the office of Community-Based Learning (CBL forever!) that I think gave me the best transferrable skills that I could bring to my job or talk about in interviews. Any program you can find at Goucher that gives you experience working with or managing groups of people, honing your organizational skills, or working towards a common goal with a strict deadline is an amazing experience that will give you a leg up in anything you do after graduation. Goucher also taught me the importance of good mentors—lovely people who go out of their way to nurture your skills and help you succeed—from Lindsay and Cass at CBL to Mary, Juliette, and Arnie in the English department. Speakers at CPC also emphasized how important it was to them to find mentors in publishing, and I’ve been lucky enough to find a few people at work who I really look up to and hope to find more in the future!

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Categories: Features, Uncategorized

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