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July 31, 2013

Good Luck, Grads! --- Nikki Reflects on Making the Most of College and Beyond


This past Monday morning, Editorial Director Tom Donadio, Content Coordinator Liz Kossnar and I attended the Columbia University Graduate Publishing Course (CPC) career fair. It was a little bit of a trip down memory lane, as Liz and I both completed the six-week intensive program, three years ago and last summer, respectively. During the course, we learned all the ins and outs of publishing --- book, magazine and digital. Sitting in on daily lectures and completing two "workshops,” which were mock experiences running a publishing house and designing a magazine/website. The summer course, which runs from the end of June to the beginning of August, provided the stepping stones that many of us needed to create a smooth transition from college to the working world and, specifically, into the publishing industry. Editorial Assistant, Emily Hoenig, also attended the program, the same year as Liz. It was great being on the "other side" of things this time around. Not too long ago, we were in the students’ position, dressing in our interview finest and ironing our resumes, and basically just trying make ourselves stand out from the rest.

There are two separate rooms in this career fair, one for magazines and the other for books. Of course, we were on the book side, meeting potential candidates for our intern positions. After 3 long hours and many meet and greets, we left the fair with several resumes in hand. As we walked out onto the Columbia campus, we started to reflect on our own college experiences...and our shared memories of endless hours spent in the very same room, at the very same fair, nervously walking around and meeting possible future bosses. Now, of course, the whole experience is very different. On the one hand, we are happy to be where we are, working hard and happily at The Book Report Network, relieved that we finally "broke" into the industry. And on the other hand, we totally miss the sense of "young" and careless freedom that comes with being in college.

I noted that while I fully enjoyed my time (read: partied) in college, I also was working really hard on reading almost everything that was assigned to me and ensuring that every single paper was handed in on time. Tom and Liz agreed. Liz pointed out that she felt more pressure during college than post-college. And here is where Tom and I felt differently. I suggested that I now put more pressure on myself to ensure my happiness for the rest of my life, wondering constantly if I have chosen the right paths thus far...and, of course, thinking about one day creating and supporting a family. In college, you go to class, do your homework and, in your free time, you work at your part-time job and hang out with friends. You think about the here and the now, what is directly in front of you, what's happening tomorrow, and maybe what's happening next week or month. In your mid-20s, the weight of the rest of your life is on your shoulders, or at least sometimes (and when I say sometimes...I really mean every day) it feels like this. You are always asking yourself things like: Is this a smart move? Is this really the best for me now? For me in the future? (This "fear" is incredibly prevalent at the ripe age of 25, when it seems that everyone around you is getting engaged, married, having babies, starting their own companies and creating a name for his or her self.) It feels like you're on the cusp of a quarter-life crisis*.

I admit that it is all too easy to get caught up in these heavy feelings. In the same breath, it is also easy to find ways to let them go, and just be in the present...taking things day by day --- learning to ride that rollercoaster. When I finally become levelheaded again, I remember, and am here to remind you, that things happen at different rates for different folks (something about different strokes?). Yoga is a great stress reliever and, of course, so is reading...and watching movies. (I must admit that the pressure to succeed (especially in NYC where the creative drive is at unprecedented levels) generates a healthy level of "competition").

As I sit here wrapping this up, I’m realizing (in real time!) that one of our greatest interns, Meghan --- whose work you've become familiar with over the course of the summer --- will be leaving us tomorrow. She's a great writer, an amazing worker and even more fun to talk to about boyz (wink!). Emily and I have been feeding her wise advice about navigating the work world**, nailing interviews (be yourself!) and ways to live up and live through the second half of her collegiate journey. As we see her off, we wish her the best, and at the same time, wish you all the best. Everything will be fine, it always is.


*unintentional John Mayer quote

**While we might not have ALL the answers right now, we have many. As you 20Somethings are graduating and entering the workplace, if you have any questions that you don't know who to ask, feel free to drop us a line at and We're more than happy and willing to help you. We were there once, too.