The air is cold. I am bundled up from head to toe trying to stay warm as I video chat with my dad while I am walking the streets of New York City. I can’t believe I’m actually here. My classmates and I are on our way to Yahoo!’s headquarters to attend a Yahoo! employee exclusive interview with Katie Couric. I look up to cross the street, and then I notice I am in the middle of Times Square, somewhere I’ve dreamed of going for my entire life. I immediately hang up on my dad and grab my camera out of my pocket. There is no way I’m going to miss taking a picture of this.
Rewind several hours, my classmates and I have entered a large, unmarked building; gone through security; and are now riding an elevator up to the 26th floor–where Inkwell Management is based. We walk into a small conference room, and the walls are bookshelves filled with books.
Soon after we get settled, Richard Pine and his coworker Eliza Rothstein, both literary agents at Inkwell Management, come sit with us. They teach us about the process of finding an agent who will represent you and help you find editors and publishing houses that are interested in buying your book. Our time quickly comes to an end. We file out of the conference room and head to our next appointment.
We go in to another skyscraper. The front desk says “Simon & Schuster.” Somebody pinch me; I’m dreaming.
Jofie Ferrari-Adler, Jeff’s editor, comes to meet us. He greets us with the most enthusiastic grin on his face, and takes us to a giant conference room that is filled with books. On the table, there are quite a few books as well. Jofie tells us about the process of editing a book and then designing a cover that appeals to the writer, the publisher, and the public. He also tells us about his path from working at a bookstore to becoming an editor at Simon & Schuster. As he is talking, he tells us the books on the table are ours if we want them. (Hello, we are writers, of course we want free books!) The passion he has for his job is contagious, and it is obvious that he loves what he does. Our time draws to a close, and Jofie heads off for lunch with a potential client. (He may have mentioned a few times that the book business is very social and he is frequently going out to lunch for work.)
We leave Simon & Schuster and after a brisk walk I find myself standing outside of Rockefeller Center. I snap a quick picture before heading inside.
We are here to meet Dave Checketts, former CEO of Madison Square Garden. He tells us that he loves the New York more than he loves Utah (where he grew up), because New York City is where everything happens. He likes to be part of the current trends instead of reading about them days later. He also lets us know that in New York City, you have to work hard to get anywhere, and he likes his limits to be pushed. I want that kind of challenge, too, so I enjoyed hearing his feelings about New York City and learning that it is possible to move across the country and be successful.
Our final stop on our New York City tour is Yahoo! headquarters, where we get to hear Katie Couric speak about how she does her interviews. At one point of the interview, she starts telling the story about the first time she was on TV. After her TV debut, someone important (possibly the station manager, but I wasn’t taking notes) said that she should never be on television again. She didn’t let that get to her, and she kept working and moving up the ladder. Now she has interviewed politicians, celebrities, and royalty. She made television her second home. Her smile was contagious and meeting her was a dream come true.
We check our watches and it’s time for us to leave New York. We leave the building and get in our van. As we’re driving out of the city, I think about everything that I learned in the short time I got to have with such incredible people. The lesson I’m bringing home with me after an incredible day is one of hard work and determination. None of the people I met started out on top, and it took time for them to get where they are. They never stop working. I saw that working in the media is more than a full-time job. It is a lifestyle. And if you want to be great at it, you have to be willing to make it your life.
Coming from a small town in Idaho, I never imagined that I would be walking through the streets of New York going from Inkwell Publishing to Simon & Schuster to the office of the former CEO of Madison Square Garden to the headquarters of Yahoo! Thanks to the Institute for Writing and Mass Media, a dream I never realized I had is fulfilled.
I left the sessions in New York City feeling inspired, energized, and grateful. I am inspired by the stories of their humble beginnings, which remind me that I can be in their shoes one day. I am energized by their advice, which teaches me how to follow in their footsteps. I am grateful for all of the opportunities I have to see the ins and outs of the business at such a young age, and to have mentors showing me what I can do. There may have been a price tag on this trip, but no price tag can be put on the advice I was given and the relationships that were made.