July 27, 2021

Students in the Center for Publishing Summer Publishing Institute (SPI) Hear from Top Industry Execs

Despite the challenges arising from the pandemic, the 2021 NYU SPS Summer Publishing Institute (SPI), held in a shortened, virtual format for the second year in a row, was an insightful experience for this year’s participants. The three-week intensive program, which centers on book publishing and digital/magazine media delivered from the heart of the publishing world—New York City—ran from June 7‑25, and successfully recruited 115 students, more than doubling its enrollment from last year.

"This year, SPI completed its 43rd year as a renowned summer intensive program that provides pathways to publishing careers and immerses students in the worlds of book publishing and digital/magazine media," noted Andrea Chambers, executive director of the NYU SPS Center for Publishing, which hosts SPI. "While the program was offered virtually, some students lived in the NYU dorms, which was a huge plus as they had the chance to explore the City and all that it has to offer. Students from across the country participated in the online sessions, including rising college seniors—it was an eclectic and engaged group."

SPI curriculum focuses on content creation, editing, marketing, sales, and to ensure that they gain real-world experience. The online program concentrated on media strategies during week one; on book publishing during week two; and on career advice and skill-building workshops during week three.

Among the highlights of the intensive, SPI offered each student a private, 15-minute session with a publishing recruiter to revise their résumé for the job hunt ahead. Students also had the chance to go behind-the-scenes through virtual industry visits to Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group, Wednesday Books, an imprint of St. Martin's Publishing Group at Macmillan, Bustle Digital Group, and Vanity Fair.

In the reimagined virtual format, students attended interactive workshops, strategy sessions, networking events, and lectures taught by more than 150 industry leaders from major media and publishing companies such as Bloomberg, Conde Nast, Fast Company, HuffPost, Refinery29, Meredith, Vice and Vox, as well as Hachette Book Group, Harper Collins, Macmillan, NYU Press, Penguin Random House, Simon & Schuster, Wiley, and leading literary agencies. Among the top-level presenters were:

  • Simone Oliver (pictured above) global editor-in-chief, Refinery29, discussed the ways publishing professionals can embrace the many facets of media today.
  • Kate Lewis, chief content officer, Hearst Magazines and a member of the NYU SPS Center for Publishing Board of Advisors, who discussed the ways in which major media brands develop and execute an effective digital strategy.
  • Jessica Pels, editor-in-chief of Cosmopolitan, who spoke about her professional experiences in a session on "A Day in the Life of an Editor in Chief."
  • Bob Miller, president and publisher of Flatiron Books and a member of the NYU SPS Center for Publishing Board of Advisors, who moderated a panel of leading publishers discussing the state of the industry.

Each week was capped by a surprise guest: Dan Wakeford, editor in chief, People and Karah Preiss, co-founder with the actress Emma Roberts of the popular book club Belletrist. Dawn Davis, the new editor in chief of Bon Appétit, and previously a top book publisher, delivered a closing talk to SPI students shortly after the final program event— a Virtual Career Fair.

Students who attended SPI 2021 found the experience invaluable for achieving their career goals. Participants described the experience as "amazing," "unforgettable," "wonderful,"—on that left them "feeling ready to enter the industry with confidence."

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