By Isabella Vaccaro
Mar 29, 2019 | Posted in School of Communication
Eight School of Communication students, three long days and one incredible publishing company – this is the M. Shanken New York City Experience. As one of the lucky few who attended the trip this Spring, I wanted to provide an insider’s look on why you should really consider applying next year.
But first, a little background – M. Shanken Communications, Inc. is a world-renowned publishing company that produces Wine Spectator, Cigar Aficionado, Whiskey Advocate and Market Watch magazines, as well as a few newsletters. Founded by Marvin Shanken 45 years ago, the company and its slew of publications grew out of Shanken’s passion for wine and spirits, as well as his love for journalism.
But those weren’t Shanken’s only passions. Arguably one of the biggest Miami Hurricanes fans, Shanken says his undergraduate years at UM were some of the best of his life. Since graduating, Shanken has been a generous donor to the School of Communication, but he felt that, rather than scholarship money, SoC students needed a learning experience they could take with them forever – thus the M. Shanken experience was born.
“M. Shanken was an awesome in-depth look into life at a publication office,” said senior Joey Haas, who attended the trip this year. “I really enjoyed talking with each department about what they do, and it opened my eyes to how each department functions and interacts with each other. Everybody was so easy to talk to and willing to answer any and all the questions we had.”
Here is why you should apply:
Luis Herrera, assistant dean and the trip coordinator, proved an incredible guide in the Big Apple, where we stayed at a beautiful hotel located just minutes away from the M. Shanken Communications offices and literally right in the middle of Times Square. And when I say right in the middle of Times Square, I mean we couldn’t ever tell whether it was night or day because of the excruciatingly bright lights pouring into our rooms. However, it’s almost impossible to complain when you are taken on an all-inclusive, paid trip to New York. I didn’t see one of my peers’ wallets come out the entire time – all meals, transportation and lodging were covered.
Each morning the group, clad in our business professional attire, filled up on mini-muffins and eggs in the hotel before making the eight-minute walk to the building. Once in the grand building complete with a 360-degree view of gorgeous Manhattan, we listened while almost every department of the company told us what they did, whether they were the print editorial team for Wine Spectator or the photo team for Cigar Aficionado. We heard it all. I won’t lie – the days felt long, and they were, but if magazine journalism, publishing, social media, marketing, advertising, videography or event planning are passions of yours, it was exciting, to say the least.
For all of the journalism students out there, this trip is a treat. It was a dream to be surrounded by people doing exactly what you imagine yourself doing one day – pitching stories, interviewing big names, breaking news and maybe even trying out recipes and reviewing them. But the trip wasn’t just for journalists; it was for all the creatives, event planners, and publicists out there too. M. Shanken hosts multiple events each year – The New York City Wine Experience, WhiskeyFest, and Big Smoke, to name a few. The in-house event planner had her hands full, and we got the inside scoop on how much preparation goes into putting on just one of these huge events.
We also heard from the art team and learned what goes into designing spreads and holding food photoshoots. On top of their presentations, you could just tell that the company culture was a pleasant one. With each department came even nicer staff members, each one willing to answer as many of our questions as they could and each one so passionate about their work that they often spoke over their allotted time slots.
“It was incredible to be part of the M. Shanken Experience and have the opportunity to experience a first class publishing company. The work they do is unmatched, and I am thankful for the opportunity to learn from the people who make it happen,” said Maxim Fisher, junior at the School of Communication.
Another unique aspect of this trip is that the eight of us, along with Herrera, attended two meals with a group of M. Shanken staff. After the first day at the office, we were whisked off to a delicious restaurant, sat down for a four-course meal and were interspersed at a huge rectangular table amongst 20 or so staff members. To my left, I chatted with the managing editor of Wine Spectator and to my right, I got to pick the brain of a former New York Times employee, all while stomaching breads, cheeses, salmon, and cheesecake.
On the last day, an even larger crew of staff members joined us for a delicious Italian meal. Again, I got to network with more editors and employees, this time while enjoying pasta. Both meals were incredible opportunities to network with people who might potentially have a stake in hiring you one day. It was both fun and beneficial, if you knew how to chat and eat without getting red sauce all over yourself.
Possibility of an Internship:
One of the most enticing parts of the M. Shanken trip is the possibility of a summer internship. Before we even boarded our planes to New York, we knew there would be an element of pressure throughout the tour. One or two interns are usually drafted from the program to intern at the company for eight weeks in the summer. With the potential opportunity looming in the background of those three days, the networking dinners were that much more nerve-wracking. M. Shanken’s summer interns work in areas like social media, copywriting, videography, public relations, or even on the art team.
Regardless of whether you secure that internship, however, the M. Shanken experience is an invaluable three days. You will get the hang of what it feels like to work in New York City, hear from industry professionals and even connect with some UM alumni who work there now. It’s fun, it’s educational, it’s delicious – and it’s a refreshing change of pace from everyday college life. Make sure to keep an eye out for applications next spring!