Alumni in the Spotlight

Alum_Spotlight3In this alumni interview, Prof. Denning speaks with Dan Shao and Mengqi Li, two recent MS in Publishing graduates who have returned to China to continue their publishing careers.

Dan Shao graduated from Pace in May 2013 after working at Open Road Integrated Media for two years. Now she is the Deputy Director of Platform Operation Department at CNPIEC (China National Publications Import and Export Company). She started her path to publishing in childhood. Growing up in her family’s printing factory, she loved the smell of paper and ink and started to study all the different ways of binding. Dan received her bachelor’s degree from Zhejiang Gongshan University in editing and publishing and worked for her university’s press as an editor for a year. She then attended Pace University’s MS in Publishing program to start her fantastic digital publishing journey.

Prof. Denning:  Hi, Dan. Could you tell me a little about the progression of your career since graduating from Pace? How has the adjustment been, from school to work?

Dan: My path was quite simple. I started my internship at Open Road Integrated Media in my third semester, which turned into full-time employment after I graduated in 2013. The next year, I went back to China to work for CNPIEC, which stands for China National Publication Import and Export (Group) Company.

Working for a company and doing a master’s degree at school are quite different. There are lots of new things to learn and adapt to…little things like how to book a meeting room, get familiar with the kitchen (haha, just kidding), everything is brand new to me. I think the internship helped me a lot—helped me transition from school to work smoothly. Also, I am doing something that’s real; the books I created will be sold in Apple Store and Amazon straight to the readers’ hands. That makes me really excited be involved in this industry.

Please tell us about your experience at Pace studying for your MS in Publishing degree.

Dan: I entered Pace after one year working as an editor in China because I thought the world was turning to digital, and I need to learn something new. Pace offered me all the good resources, the professors, the wonderful lab (I learned all publishing-related software here, did lots of my homework here, talked with my lovely classmates here… wonderful memories!), and of course networking.

The thing I love most about Pace is that lots of our professors come from the industry and know the industry very well. We learned things both from the textbook and the professors’ rich experience. They taught us comprehensive knowledge an provided  hands-on training. I really want to thank Professor Raskin, Professor Denning, Professor Lian, Professor Soares, Professor Delano, Professor Baron, Barbara Egidi…I just want to thank everyone I met at Pace!

Could you tell me about your current job? What is it that you enjoy most? What’s the hardest thing you’ve encountered in your career?

Dan ShaoDan: I am the Deputy Director of Platform Operation Department in the Digital Development Center at CNPIEC now. My work is to lead the production team; all our content will be sold on our digital platform, which is called CNPeReading. CNPeReading has aggregated millions of digital content files, including magazines, journals, ebooks, audio, video, and all other digital materials. CNPeReading sells this content to libraries and institutional users directly, and will cover individuals in the near future. If anyone is interested in our platform, feel free to e-mail me (shaodan@cnpiec.com.cn).

I love the way everyone is connected in our daily job and people work together to solve problems and conquer challenges.

The hardest thing I have encountered in my career… hmm, I think it might be at my previous job at Open Road. I was a digital production editorial assistant when it turned into full-time position. But two months later, my manager left the company and they were not able to find someone to fill her position. I took over all her responsibility for half a year, creating ebooks, talking to production-related software providers, working with marketing and editorial teams, and managing interns. That was a really fast growing process for me, but the experience enriched me; I learned to manage people, arrange tasks, and communicate with people well. Over time, it made me more confident.

You worked for Open Road Media, which is a heavily digital company. Have you always been interested in the digital aspects of publishing? How did working there influence you?

Dan: Yes, I can always learn new things in digital publishing, which is why I’ll always love it. The experience with Open Road helped me to understand the trends, technologies, standards, and business models in digital publishing.

What are some digital trends that you’ve been noticing in the publishing industry, specifically those in your area of work?

Dan: From my point of view, mobile reading is absolutely the trend in China. You can see people reading on their mobile phones everywhere, especially on the subway. Last year publishers got billions of dollars in revenue from mobile reading. I believe this will be the trend, and the market has huge potential.

What would you tell students who are beginning to look for work in publishing? Were there any pieces of wisdom that you employed to help you in your search?

Dan: I would say use the network you have at developed at Pace. Recommendations from people in the industry help a lot. I really want to thank you, Professor Denning, for recommending me to Open Road.

Also, you will need one skill that others do not have, or others are not doing well as you do. Open Road still hired me as their consultant after I went back to China, because I know how to create interactive eBooks, which is a more comprehensive epub format.

How has your education at Pace and elsewhere affected you in your pursuit of a career in publishing? Have you always been interested in publishing?

Dan: Yes! I love publishing, and I love the way publishing affects our life and society.  I studied publishing during my undergraduate schooling, learned basic knowledge of the publishing industry, went to Pace after one year’s working experience as a proof editor, worked for Open Road for two years, and then came to CNPIEC. I am happy that I am always doing something digital, and I will continue my digital path all the way.

What are some of the biggest challenges that you think publishing is facing now?

Dan: Amazon is definitely one of the biggest challenges for publishers in America. In China, I would say the piracy, because there is still tons of free content online that a lot of people are downloading. It is still the biggest issue in the industry. Government, publishers, readers should all put forth effort to change the situation.

What advice do you have for students who aren’t sure about where they want to land in publishing?

Dan: Find internships and try different positions. I saw some interns work for Open Road and they figured out if they loved a certain job or not after trying different departments. We had an intern who worked in our production department first, then interned for the marketing team, and found herself liking the marketing position better.

What are some valuable lessons or skills that you’ve learned since starting work full-time?

Dan: Team work! I know everyone knows team work is essential, but I truly understand how important team work is in my work. Everyone in the team needs to communicate with each other to make the work process clear and efficient.

In China, the whole industry is quite different than it is in America. Every publisher claims they are going digital, and everyone does their own thing using their own standards. We got all kinds of original digital files from publishers, resulting in a lot of extra work for our production team. Our team did a lot of work together to deal with these files and build our own standards for both the original files and our e-products.  That’s all team work; no one can do his job by himself.

What are your thoughts on the current discussion of digital rights?

Dan: Digital rights are always the issue in the industry. Open Road had dealt with issue before, but I didn’t quite understand the judgement. I think the judgement was a misunderstanding and misreading. In my opinion Digital publishers owns the digital rights so long as they received permission from the authors.

 How do you think students ought to approach their brand new careers in publishing?

Dan: Be brave and see yourself as a blank slate to learn things in the tough and wonderful publishing world.  A publishing career is a good life.

 

 

 

Mengqi LiMengqi Li is the Digital Project Manager at Penguin Random House China and a May 2014 graduate of Pace’s MS in Publishing program. Mengqi is from China where she received her bachelor’s degree from Nanjing Normal University, majoring in Theatre, Television, and Films. During her time at Pace, she interned at Open Road Integrated Media and became a part-time editor for a year.

Professor Denning:  Hello, Mengqi. Could you tell me a little about the progression of your career since graduating from Pace? How has the adjustment been, from school to work?

Mengqi: Hi Prof. Denning, thank you for asking me to do this interview! I miss my Pace Publishing classmates a lot now that I am in China! When I graduated from Pace, I had already been working at Open Road Integrated Media as a part-time digital production editor for over 6 months. I was extremely fortunate last September. I had the chance to be the special authorized liaison for The First World Digital Conference (Beijing, 2014). I invited international guest speakers from the US, Spain, and Brazil. For example, Open Road CEO Jane Friedman and PublishNews CEO Carlo Carrenho came. After attending that conference as an interpreter for Open Road, I was recommended for Penguin Random House China and luckily got my current full-time job as a Digital Project Manager in Beijing.

The knowledge I learned at Pace helped me a lot in the real world. The publishing industry in China is different, from government policy to consumer behavior. Although I had hands-on experience in publishing, I still feel new to this industry and I am learning every day.

Please tell us about your experience at Pace studying for your MS in Publishing degree.

Mengqi: I wasn’t from a publishing-related major when I was accepted to Pace. I worked for a provincial TV station in China as a hostess, editor, and video maker. I knew that I wanted to change my field, so when I found the Pace Publishing program, I thought about Digital Publishing— “Ha! That would be interesting and still in the media area (this is totally not true for books!)”. My first semester at Pace was extremely hard. I didn’t know the NYTimes Bestseller authors and had no idea about Marketing Principles, Finance, or Electronic Publishing. My daydream about publishing was too naïve. Nevertheless, Pace Publishing has very good, kind, and professional teachers and amazing, talented students! I received encouragement from them and learned quickly from the well-prepared courses.

My experience at Pace taught me that publishing is a small industry, but reflects the changes in every aspect of modern society. To survive in the current tide, you have to think smart, work hard, and keep learning.

Could you tell me about your current job? What is it that you enjoy most? What’s the hardest thing you’ve encountered in your job?

Mengqi: My current job is Digital Project Manager at Penguin Random House China. I am handling digital-related projects and assisting my colleagues in providing digital solutions. The merging of Penguin and Random House finally completed in China, and 2015 marks the 80th anniversary of Penguin and its 10th year in China. So, I am doing some special cases for the celebration and branding.

Working at PRH China, I am able to communicate with PRH staffs around the world. Penguin is a very creative publishing house. I am intrigued by their amazing ideas every week! Our parent company Bertelsmann organizes seminars about the hot topics frequently within the group, so I feel even though I am in publishing, I can get to know other industries as well.

PRH is a foreign company in China. We can’t publish books independently due to censorship. We have to co-publish with a local publishing house. Feeling confined is hard, but on the other hand, it gives me opportunity to learn the reality in Beijing efficiently. China has quickly developed in the past 4 years and Beijing is a new home to me; I am still in the exploratory stage.

You interned for Open Road Media, which is a heavily digital company. Have you always been interested in the digital aspects of publishing? How did interning there/working there influence you?

Mengqi: Yes! I like digital publishing. I was interning in the digital production team. My primary responsibility was to assist in creating eBooks. I practiced my skills there and gained hands-on experience in digital publishing. Working as a part-time editor later gave me the opportunity to handle some titles independently and corrected my opinions about digital publishing. For example, I wrote my thesis about metadata, because I believed that data was power enough to lead the trend of publishing. However, with help from the metadata coordinator, I did research and read several papers/books about big data and metadata, and I realized the reality is much more complicated.

Working at Open Road was a precious experience for me. Although it was a temporary job, I learned how to be professional, strong, and enhance myself. Also, it was my honor to work with Jane Friedman. When I left Open Road, I got her hand-written recommendation letter. The words she wrote about me and the greetings from my colleagues encouraged me to pursue the career I dreamed of.

What are some digital trends that you’ve been noticing in the publishing industry, specifically those in your area of work?

Mengqi: I strongly feel that integrated media is the trend and the inevitable. Books are not only in the physical bookstores or online (such as Amazon, iBooks); they also appear on the FM mobile platforms. For instance, audio books are getting more and more popular in China. You can also find ebooks on airplanes or read on Uber (Uber X Kindle). They say people don’t read, but the demand for contents is increasing. TV shows and movies are hunting for good content. Mobile games are based on books. Digital publishing is no longer just digitalizing print books and creating databases. Publishing is expanding in different industries and you have to be more creative.

What would you tell students who are beginning to look for work in publishing? Were there any pieces of wisdom that you employed to help you in your search?

Mengqi: Keep your eyes on this blog! Networking is vital! I got the position in Open Road because of the Pace blog and the help from Dan (my classmate)! She passed my resume along to my former supervisor. All the opportunities I had at Pace—for example, being the interpreter for 2014 BEA US-China Rights section and other seminars—were from the benefits of networking. It helps you get to know people, make friends, and offers you the chance to see the wonderful world!

How has your education at Pace and elsewhere affected you in your pursuit of a career in publishing? Have you always been interested in publishing?

Mengqi: Making things fascinates me. I liked video making when I was in undergraduate. Coding (Prof. Lian’s class) and desktop publishing skills helped me find jobs in the digital publishing area. My background and experience assisted me in understanding today’s rich media phenomenon. The papers and homework I wrote in Pace Publishing taught me to think deeply. I am not the same as some classmates that liked to read from childhood, but the day I stepped into this program, I knew I would like to develop my future career path in this industry. Working in an office that has books and book-related products is wonderful!

What are some of the biggest challenges that you think publishing is facing now?

Mengqi: I think the impact of the Internet is a big challenge. Internet-based products are rising fast in China. Publishers have to compete with mobile platforms, find solutions to partner with new media, and keep eyes on their regular competitors. Woo, that is really hard.

What advice do you have for students who aren’t sure about where they want to land in publishing?

Mengqi: I would say keep learning and don’t miss any opportunity in this industry. Pace is a great resource. Try an internship first. Even if you don’t like or know the job, at least you have the chance to know the real world. Then, figuring out what you want to do won’t be a problem.

Do you see yourself continuing in your current field long-term?

Mengqi: Yes! I think there are plenty of things I could do and experiment with in this field. Technology is changing fast, but it’s fun! Books could have more functions and no limits to their physical format!

What are some valuable lessons or skills that you’ve learned since starting work full-time?

Mengqi: First, different countries and companies have diverse working environments and policies. Study them first! Second, be creative and always think outside the box. Last but not the least, no pain, no gain. All the efforts you made in the past will benefit you eventually.

What are your thoughts on the current discussion of digital rights?

Mengqi: In China, the legal system of digital rights is not fully operational. Parents worry that devices will harm children’s eyes, so not many publishers acquire digital rights on kids’ titles. The majority of people here like to read on mobile, and they are more intrigued by web articles. However, the rights in this area are still up for discussion. I feel digital rights are not only about eBooks; they are appearing more and more comprehensive. When you look at a book, eBook rights are just a start. You will have to think about video, audio, and other digital-related subsidiary rights. I am looking forward to seeing how this system will be established eventually.

How do you think students ought to approach their brand new careers in publishing?

Mengqi: Networking! Don’t be afraid of talking to people. I was extremely shy because I didn’t have the confidence in speaking English and I was lacking publishing knowledge. Thanks to our kind teachers and classmates, I started by making friends from 551 5th Ave to forcing myself to participate in different events. Finally, I realized people in publishing like to share their opinions and experiences, and they want to know you as well! It is fun!!!

Introducing the New M.S. in Publishing Graduate Assistants and Student Aides!

The M.S in Publishing blog would like to officially welcome and introduce you to the Graduate Assistants and Student Aides for the 2012-2013 academic year.   Learn more about your classmates and their positions within the department.

 

Diana Cavallo

Student Aide, Publishing Office

I graduated from Pace University, Pleasantville in May of 2012, with a Bachelor of Arts in English and Communications, and a minor in Creative Writing.  I’m very proud to say that at Commencement, I was given the highest honor awarded to a graduating senior, the Trustee Award.  During my undergraduate education, I was the editor of the Honors College newsletter, SCHOLASTICA, and contributor to VOX  Literary & Arts magazine. I have held three internship positions, two within the publishing at The Association of American Publishers and Nancy Yost Literary Agency.   I am still undecided as to whether I would like to work in magazine or book publishing, but am very interested in the editorial, publicity and marketing fields.  Ultimately, I would like to become a novelist and children’s author.

 

 

Jennifer Clare

Graduate Assistant, Pace Press

I graduated from Ramapo College with a BA in Communication Arts concentrating my studies in writing.  I have had many great internship experiences working for TWIST Magazine, Nickelodeon, Cosmopolitan, and now Pace University Press. My internships have opened up my career interests to include editorial, production, design, and marketing in both books and magazines. I also have a lot of interest in digital aspects of publishing.

 

 

 

Trey Prothro

Graduate Assistant, Pace Press

My name is Trey Prothro, and I’m originally from St. Louis, Missouri. In May 2011, I graduated with a Bachelor of Journalism in Magazine Editing from the University of Missouri at Columbia. While in undergrad, I had the opportunity to work as a staff reporter for the Columbia Missourian, staff writer and section editor for Vox magazine, editorial intern at ALIVE Magazine (a monthly lifestyle publication in St. Louis), and TIWIMUTA magazine (an annual art fashion magazine published by Andre Walker and based in New York City). My publishing passion is with magazines. Although most of my experience and background is on the editorial side of publishing, I would like to learn more about the business aspects of publishing to be an overall more strategic publisher in the future. I’m new to the city, and this is my first semester in the M.S. Publishing program. I’m beyond excited to be here!

 

Dan Shao

Lab Assistant

I graduated from Zhe Jiang Gong Shang University in 2010, and my undergraduate major was editing and publishing. I am interested in book publishing, copyright, digital publishing and magazine as well.

 

 

Jenna Vaccaro

Graduate Assistant, Lab

Jenna Vaccaro graduated from American University in Washington, DC in 2010 with a Bachelor of Arts in Law and Society.  In college she interned with the publication The Humanist, a magazine for critical social inquiry. Jenna spent 4 years working at the Smithsonian’s Freer and Sackler Galleries of Art as a publications and events assistant, working on exhibition catalogs and the scholarly journal Ars Orientalis. Jenna is interested in working with current events and pop culture, news-based publications, and science-fiction. In her spare time, she plays guitar and plans vacations.