Originally, I intended to write a long update about the conference. The weekend proved to be very exhausting, and as a result, my week has felt sluggish and “off” in rhythm, if that makes sense. That said, I will try and sum up my weekend excursion in five points:
The Exhibit Hall (Chicago, IL) // July 2009
1. Luckily, I had a game plan for which booths I would stop by, etc. Otherwise, I would have been completely overwhelmed by all the people and the countless exhibits. I had excellent conversations (some better than others, of course) from companies ranging from National Geographic to W. W. Norton & Co. It was an interesting task to balance speaking to someone about my job search and not overstaying my welcome. That is to say, some people were more talkative, outgoing, forthcoming with advice, etc. than others. I was able to try and follow-up about a few jobs I applied for, and this week I spent time sending out thank yous, follow-ups, etc. On top op making in-person contacts, the conference was an excellent way to peruse titles from different publishers and get a feel for the companies.
2. Based on my conversations from this weekend, people in publishing got into the industry from one of two routes: A) They landed a position at one company and have worked there/worked their way up for 7+ years at the same place, or B) They started somewhere completely different and–almost by chance–they ended up where they are now. Interesting, eh? In some ways, I feel better knowing that one day I will be telling a new college grad how I got to my pseudo-dream job, and hopefully she’ll be encouraged by it, too.
3. I still adore author Sarah Dessen, who recently released a new book, Along for the Ride. I went to her book signing on Sunday morning, and as I stood behind 80+ other people, I tried to think of what to say to her. As it happens, I got up to the table and everything spit out of my mouth, ha. I guess that’s what happens when you meet one of your favorite authors. I had actually met her several years back at an event in Raleigh (she is a native North Carolinian from Chapel Hill), but it dawned on me that I still love her books even though I am now well into my twenties. (That says something, right?) I got a picture with her this time around, and after chatting with her at what was (from my end) rapid-fire pace, she said goodbye and mentioned that “it’s always nice to meet a fellow North Carolinian.” :)
YA Author Sarah Dessen (and Me!) // July 2009
4. Junot Diaz’s The Brief, Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao has received quite the attention after Diaz won a Pulitzer Prize for the novel; award aside, it’s an incredible read, so if you haven’t met Oscar Wao, you need to–now. Anyway, I saw Junot Diaz speak last fall and he was smart, uncensored, and just a joy to watch. He was scheduled to speak on Sunday afternoon, but unfortunately, the event was canceled after he was unreachable and M.I.A. An auditorium full of attendees unhappily filed out of the room as staff members from Penguin passed out complimentary copies of Oscar Wao. Too bad many of the people there had read it–but hey, now I have my own paperback copy. (The only sad part about the cancellation was that I had prepared a question for Junot that related to my senior thesis research…maybe next time, right?)
5. Networking all day is a tough task, but it forces you to get out of your comfort zone and put yourself out there. I haven’t heard back about any jobs yet but I’m trying to stay hopeful and patient. At least I put myself out there this weekend…and who knows, maybe something will eventually come out of it all.
Well, that covers all the major bases. I had no idea what to expect out of a large conference like the ALA, but it turned out to be a lot of fun. And overall, the experience was beneficial for my job search, whether I was meeting people or just learning more about the industry and different companies.
And so the job search continues…