Thursday, February 19, 2009

Why Talking to College Students Makes Me Love My Job...

You may have seen my Twitter post on Tuesday mentioning that that evening I was going to talk to a group of college students about working in publishing. And I was a little nervous. I didn't have stage fright--I do plenty of public speaking and it's been quite awhile since I've had the urge to barf in the hallway before I go on. I don't mind getting up in front of a group.

But I'm used to talking to fully-grown-up adults, not young adults. My last experience with teens was a career day presentation at my high school a few years back which was one of my worst public speaking experience to date. There was some sleeping, much staring out the window, a bit of nail polish picking. One girl rolled her eyes at me when I answered her question. I could not wait to get out of there.

But, as a wise agent friend of mine pointed out when I asked if college students were as scary as high school students: "Nah, only the best students go on to college. That whole 'desire to learn' thing that is anyone's guess in high school."

Thank you oh wise Michael Stearns: You were right. The YAs in the college class were eager. And prepared with questions. They were all interning. They were all facing their foggy futures and wanted to hear what I and my fellow panelists had to say about our careers in the publishing world.

One asked me about being at the same company for such a long time, and if it got boring. I told her I've been at F+W for going on 18 years, but I feel like I've worked for a number of companies. There have been several owners since I've been here. I've had seven or eight bosses. And, since I started, the Internet happened. Those are all good things. Even though I may be working on the same publications year after year, the way I do things, the technology I use, my ability to connect with my audience, the co-workers I interact with--these all have changed, some dramatically. Things stay fresh. There are always new challenges on my plate. There is always something else that keeps me excited.

During times like these when I read about lay-offs on a weekly basis, it's easy to get a little down about the publishing world, a little concerned. Talking to this Xavier University class gave me perspective and reminded my why I love what I do.

At one point I gave the students my somewhat New Age-y advice: Do your best to network, keep doing what you love doing, be opened minded, and the universe will steer you in the right direction. After so many years at F+W and so many years working on CWIM and our other publications, I still feel like the universe landed me in the right place.


Vodka Mom said...

Alice- you gave them wonderful advice, and I'm sure you were inspiring.

I also hope you wore great shoes.


So glad you recognize that you are standing right where you ought to be!
If you enjoy what your are doing then you are doing it right.
Stay in the 'Now'. Congratulations.
Be well. Do good. All ways. All days.

Kelly Polark said...

Great advice for our future writers and entrepreneurs.

Snooty Aunt Cynthia said...

I have a nice who is in college right now and not only is she refreshing but so are her classmates. What I love, in talking to college kids, is their joy of life, their sense of all things new. They are like children who are exposed to a spring meadow and look, wide-eyed, at the living kaleidoscope under their feet.
And I agree about teens to a certain degree. They appear to be so jaded and blase --- and yet it is a cover for the turbulence of adolescence. JMHO on all of this. :-)

Angela Ackerman said...

Sounds like you did a great job. :-)

Ad how could I go so long not knowing about this blog?? Do I live under a rock?

Susan said...

Thanks for sharing that - I've felt that way too. Future writers need to hear it.