“Mom, I have to come home. I have no idea what I’m doing here, but everyone else is so accomplished already, and I’m not good at any of it.”

During my first few weeks at Ooligan Press, all of my many calls to my mom started with this or, “Dad, is Mom there?” I called my mom numerous times at the beginning of last quarter because I’m an adult. I had just moved from Colorado to Portland, started grad school, and everything was new and overwhelming.

I felt so lost and had no idea how I was ever going to succeed in this field when I felt like I could barely keep my head up in class. My big fish advised me that even though I was not taking Publishing Lab my first quarter, I should consider taking it noncredit—meaning I could attend meetings, do some assignments for my team, learn how Ooligan worked, and not have to worry about a grade.

That led to my nervously shuffling in on a team working on a manuscript. For the first couple meetings, I sat there silently because I was anxious that I would say something stupid and the people in the team would judge me—they all knew what they were doing, and I was utterly clueless about everything. It took a couple of weeks, but eventually I started to get comfortable enough to start speaking and really enjoyed the meetings I had with the team.

Personally, taking Publishing Lab for no credit helped me immensely during my first quarter, and it is something I would recommend to others entering the program—especially if they are worrying about feeling lost or unsure. I was able to meet more people in the program. It was through my work and experiences here that I truly felt I was starting to understand publishing. It is also where I gained clarification and insight on what truly goes into publishing a book.

I learned to always ask questions because the people in the program are nice and want to help. If there is an assignment you are struggling with, ask for help or clarification. If there is a word you are unfamiliar with, ask someone for clarification.

I make lots of stupid mistakes. This is true for me, generally, but it is especially true when I start something new. I get so nervous about not making a big mistake that I make an immense number of simple mistakes. I have learned to take this in stride and attempt to learn from my failures or mistakes. Unfortunately, these mistakes are not so great when they can affect a grade.

Graduate school is a sink-or-swim experience. It is not freshman year of college where you have someone guiding your every move. While I deeply appreciate the lack of team building activities that come with grad school, trying to get on your feet in grad school is overwhelming and a fear of failure intensifies. Cs no longer get degrees. While there is no one guiding your every movement, being in my team for Ooligan taught me that not only is it ok to feel unsure but it is ok to ask questions.

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