Writers Institute

Kara Brammer '13 and Steve Buscok '13

What is it like/ how does it feel being so successful in the field of your dreams straight out of college?
Kara: It’s surreal. Even reading this question, I stopped and thought, "Wait, you mean me?" I know that I achieved the post-grad goals I set for myself during college, but now I’m thinking ahead and setting new goals for my career. Mostly I feel grateful. I reflect on my experience at SU and my new experiences in New York and know that I couldn’t have been successful without the support from a whole bunch of people. It’s a combination of dedication, hard work and luck that got me to this point.
Steve: It's a little bewildering. I was worried when I graduated that there wouldn't be any jobs out there for me. But with some great guidance from some great people (Laurence Roth, Catherine Dent, Tom Bailey, Shaye Areheart), a little talent and a lot of luck, I have a job that I love in an industry that I love in a city that I love, and I couldn't be happier.

Do you think the interaction between your creative writing major and publishing and editing minor led you to be so successful?
Kara: Absolutely. The combination of my major and minors (I also have a business minor), helped show potential employers my passion for the publishing industry. I was able to market myself as a creative thinker with practical knowledge of the industry due to the interaction of my programs.
Steve: Most definitely! Just because you have a good piece of writing means nothing if there isn't a system in place to get people to read it, and I think that's why the publishing and editing minor was a nice complement to my major. So often, people get wrapped up in the idea that the written word is an art form and ignore the business side of writing. Knowing how to write well and how to talk about writing in a constructive way are invaluable skills to have in the publishing industry—especially in editorial.

Can you talk a little about the steps you took out of college in terms of looking for a job?
Kara: I knew being in New York was my first step in finding a job there. I attended the Summer Publishing Institute at NYU a few weeks after graduation, and began my job search while I was participating in the program. From there, my next step was constantly checking job board websites for new opportunities. You’ll never know which application you submit will get you noticed! I was signed up to visit the HarperCollins’ office through the NYU program, and applied for a job on their website the night before I visited. I was able to talk with the HR representative about the job, and got called in for an interview after speaking with her!
Steve: During my final semester, I applied to summer publishing programs. There are two great ones in New York City: the Columbia Publishing Course and the New York University Summer Publishing Institute. I was lucky to get into both, but CPC offered me financial aid, and so I went there. The creative writing major/publishing and editing minor combo was key to me getting in. It showed I was passionate about books, and it showed that I had followed up that passion with experience. Book workshop week, where we were divided into teams and were each assigned a role (everything from editor to production to publicity and marketing), was probably the most helpful learning experience for me. It gave me the connections I needed to get into the industry. I know I would have never gotten my job at Workman Publishing if it hadn't been for Shaye Areheart (who, coincidentally, published Tom's first novel), who knew I was interested in production, got an email about an unlisted opening here, and forwarded my name. After that, all I had to do was show up and use the knowledge I had obtained from SU and CPC.
What is one piece of advice you would give the students in the creative writing program that you wish you would have received/ did receive?
: Find out what you really want to do, and then do everything you can to help you get there. Know that it won’t be easy, but keep trying anyways. I can remember walking into Tom’s office sophomore year for an advising meeting, where I told him that I wanted to pursue publishing. He didn’t sugar coat how competitive New York and publishing is, and for that I’m grateful. The creative writing program not only teaches you one of the most valuable skill sets—good communicators and writers are needed in all job markets—but also provides you with a great support system. Your professors share your passion for writing and literature. They want to see you succeed. Listen to them, even when it means getting some tough love.
Steve: That you don't have to get published or go to graduate school to get the most out of your creative writing degree. The things that it teaches you -- how to read critically, how to communicate your thoughts about something as subjective as writing, and how to write well -- can be used in so many other different ways. I have a friend who is using the skills she learned as a creative writing major to write and do social media marketing at a travel agency in Pennsylvania. Another friend is working at two different publishers at Boston. Do whatever feels like a natural next step for you.


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