~From English Communications Intern Ashley Alfirevic


For seniors, especially English majors, career prospects can seem particularly harrowing as we are accosted with questions about post-graduate life. For many of us, the answers to the complex quandaries turn out to be quite simple: we want to continue our lifelong love affair with books. The rest will just have to fall into place.

Enter in the University of Denver Publishing Institute (DPI), one of three major publishing certification programs in the country and the only one in the west. A competitive one-month program, the Institute immerses 95 students in the world of book publishing with workshops, presentations, and networking events led by industry experts.

Shelley Woll, a CSU and DPI alum, hosted an informational session to share her experience last summer and discuss her career in publishing. After graduating from CSU with a degree in Journalism, working on a magazine, and pursuing a publishing interest outside of her career, Shelley decided to attend DPI and shift towards freelancing.

Shelley Woll
Shelley Woll

DPI prepares students for careers in publishing by training them with the necessary nitty-gritty skills and allowing them to explore a variety of industry facets. She noted that the editorial workshops make for “a humbling experience, even if you’re good at grammar” and that real publishers conduct interviews for intensive career planning. Participants can find their calling in editorial, sales, agenting, or marketing roles across independent, digital, children’s, magazine, and textbook publishing. Between the homework and the hosted dinners, students leave equipped with the knowledge and network to succeed.

Shelley found a fantastic group of friends and colleagues to help her navigate the publishing world after graduation. Carl Lennertz, a Publishing Consultant and industry veteran, frequently seeks out DPI graduates for help on manuscripts. The phenomenal web of fellow graduates provides connections throughout major publishing houses, especially the major brands found in New York. The program directors will forever keep alumni on an email newsletter with job opportunities from across the country.

The key to success at DPI might frighten introverted book lovers. “Reach out, make connections, and go out of your comfort zone,” Shelley said. “The friendships you establish with your peers might be even more important than the homework.” That’s not to say that the homework isn’t challenging and enjoyable, of course. Without spoiling too much, she hinted that the manuscripts assigned have more potential for publication than you might expect.

I may be a bit biased, but DPI sounds like the best place to jumpstart a career in books. Maybe that’s because I attended the information session as an applicant instead of an impartial observer.  Thanks to the help of a few wonderful professors, advisors, and employers, as well as the Career Center and Writing Center (seriously, we have so many on-campus resources to use), I had sent in my materials by the early application deadline two days prior.

Talking to Shelley made me excited for the future, for the potential to spend the summer with motivated readers, writers, and publishing aficionados working towards the same goals. Many other attendees felt the same — we lingered so long that they ushered us out, needing to set up for their next Career Center event. Leaving the Career Center that night – as the usually bright lobby transformed and darkened for an elegant business gala – the long, candle lit tables stretched up like sleek gray skyscrapers, and I finally felt a sort of calmness for the future. Stirred in with excitement and nervousness about my application, I felt an assurance as she spoke about the supportive, encouraging environment of DPI. It came with the implication that a fulfilling, stable career could be built out of books, and that it would be within reach if my application is accepted.

So, for now, I’m crossing my fingers and compulsively checking my mailbox. But for those who may be interested, there’s still time to submit an application by the March 22 deadline. Who knows – maybe I’ll see you there.


The University of Denver Publishing Institute takes place from July 10 – August 5, 2016. Find more information and apply here: http://www.du.edu/publishinginstitute/

Note: A bachelor’s degree is required to attend, but if Shelley recommended communicating future interest to the program directors if you are not graduating this semester.