On April 11th and 12th current Ooligan students were treated to the first ever Ooligan Career Seminar and Alumni Gathering. On Friday night, the press rented out the Jack London Bar in Southwest Portland for some Ooligan-exclusive schmoozing and merrymaking. On Saturday morning we reconvened for a day of informative panels featuring Ooligan graduates who’ve built successful careers, some in the publishing world and some in other fields.
The morning started off with a discussion of life in the big city courtesy of some Ooligan grads seeking their fortunes in the publishing scene of New York. All of them agreed that for those Oolies hoping to get a job in New York, the best thing to do is save up some money, move out there, and then start looking for jobs. “I was applying before I moved, but it wasn’t until after I had a New York address on my résumé that I really started getting interviews,” said Kylie Byrd, who recently got a job as an Assistant Production Editor at Perigee, an imprint of Penguin Random House. For the second panel, a group of Oolies in the realm of digital media and design discussed the future of the print book and just which design program will make you invaluable in any workplace (hint: it’s InDesign). Next, a panel of editors talked about how they moved from freelance editing careers to full time work. Interestingly, two of them chose to pursue careers in technical editing because editing fiction made it too difficult to also follow their passion for writing. “I love to write YA,” said Kristen Svenson, who now works as an editor in the medical information field. “But I couldn’t edit YA all day and then come home and write YA.”
After a short lunch break, we returned to hear a panel of marketers talk about what marketing means to them and why they enjoy it. They all stressed the collaborative nature of the work along with the challenge and satisfaction of coming up with ideas and implementing them. “Marketing is a creative process,” said Aly Hoffman, a publisher’s assistant at IT Revolution Press. “It’s fun.” After the marketing panel, we got a chance to hear from some Ooligan grads who used their press experience to find careers outside the field of publishing. They emphasized the fact that skills taught at Ooligan—editing, writing, marketing, design, management, and more—are all applicable to any communications-based position, and make Ooligan grads valuable candidates no matter what field they choose to enter. The day finished off with a panel of alums working in non-profits. They reiterated that the Ooligan skillset is of immeasurable value in a wide variety of job situations—and that this skillset, combined with genuine passion for a cause, makes for the ideal candidate for a job at a non-profit.
There was one theme that ran through all the panels: network, network, network. The panelists could not emphasize enough the importance of making contacts, getting informational interviews (even by cold emailing), keeping on good terms with everyone, and viewing the relationships you’ve built as your greatest asset. Given this, we at Ooligan are lucky to have had this chance to meet some very successful people who started out just like us.