Episode 1: Orientation Week #MPub

1. Orientation Week

Week One of the Masters in Publishing is now behind me, and tomorrow starts Week Two! Last week was a whirlwind of an experience, but I stepped away feeling more energetic than ever. This year, the MPub faculty has many new faces, and of the classes I’ve been able to attend so far, they’re all going to lead excellent classes and seminars.

What They Don’t Tell You

TUITION DEPOSIT: Because the #MPub program is such a small part of the overall SFU campus, there isn’t a lot of information before the start of term. If you are planning to apply, make sure you budget about $1,000CAD for additional tuition deposits to the Publishing department before the start of term. For me, this was a huge wrench in my summer savings, and as a foreigner with a student visa, I actually wasn’t allowed to legally work before the start of school (they recommend you don’t work at all, for reasons I’ll explain), seriously hampering my ability to settle down in Canada. It may be best to work and save money in your home country, and arrive only a month before (to give yourself time to find an apartment).

CLASS SCHEDULE: The classes run on a liquid schedule that changes a lot. Any schedule you receive through the Registrar will be wrong. Expect classes to shift around a lot, as many of the classes have industry speakers who can only make certain days. Some classes even end earlier in the term to make space for the Book Project, so for the first couple months, you’ll have Fridays free, but then the project will start, and your schedule will shift again. You can see why working any job with set hours would be troublesome.

TEXTBOOKS: Textbooks will arrive in the bookstore. Don’t buy any of them. Unless you want to for your own benefit. Then feel free! If you want to do some reading over the summer before the start of term, check out Publishing for Profit‘s 5th edition. It’s cross-referenced in a few classes and is quite a solid introduction to the publishing industry.

INDESIGN: The design course jumps right into it the first day. Make sure you spend enough time exploring the program to know general layout practices. I suggest picking up a 5-6 hour course on Lynda.com with your free student access to get familiar with the software. From experience, I stress this: InDesign’s learning curve is a monster.

REPUTATION: The Publishing department has a pretty awesome reputation on campus. The advisor for the students is considered one of the nicest in the entire university, and she is a whirling dervish of information. The faculty are good speakers and personable, with varied and fascinating backgrounds. I find myself eager to dive into the coursework for all of my classes.

My First Week, in Instagram Photos

The week started on Tuesday, as Monday was Labo(u)r Day. This means that technically, tomorrow is my first time going to the Technology seminar! Orientation was a little over two hours, and was the only thing planned for the day. I walked around campus for a bit, and dropped my name in the hat for Publishing caucus representative for the Grad Council. (eeeek!)


I have to mention that Simon Fraser has some amazing facilities for graduate students. The Publishing cohort get three shared offices to split between 18 people, and they’re key-code protected. In addition, there is free coffee on the Burnaby campus, a student lounge with microwaves and kettles, access to a fridge for your lunch, a massive amount of study space (if you need a quiet place besides home), tons of workshops and services for writing and bookable conference rooms for larger study groups. Also, the Publishing cohort gets free printing in the Publishing wing of Harbour Centre. The facilities are amazingly well-funded.


As part of the first week, the Publishing faculty invited us out to Mahony & Sons pub near the Waterfront. It is a gorgeous area, and those of us that attended spent the better part of two hours just getting to know our professors in a very candid and welcoming way. I felt so supported, and could really sense the faculty’s investment in our being in the program. This year has seen some new changes to the curriculum, with students being able to choose between interning, doing a research project, or building a start-up company from the ground up, and I literally can’t decide which one sounds most awesome. Knowing me, I’ll try to do all three, haha!

…Oh, and at the pub, I was unanimously voted in as caucus rep! 😳✊


Thursday we finally got to take the Publishing management course and I am SO IN LOVE. Everything about the syllabus is exciting me, and I just can’t wait to gets hands on with our book and magazine projects later in the year. Woohoo!

Also, I happened to meet an upperclassman by chance a couple weeks ago, and he treated me to lunch since Financial Aid was taking its sweet time disbursing. Thankfully, now I have my money!


Now, on to Week Two! Follow me on Instagram for all the stories I post about #MPub. 🙂

24 thoughts on “1. Orientation Week

  1. I wish you great fun as well as hard work during your course. Education is wasted on the young! Don’t spend so much time studying/working that you forget to enjoy it – that’s one of the things I should have done more of during my Masters. 🙂


    1. I’m planning on doing fun things as much as the schedule allows. I’m going to my first symphony next month! Does that count? Haha. Also, I’m really glad that I’m part of such a great group of women. (No men this year, interestingly…)

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Wow Alex,

    Grass doesn’t grow under your feet!!!

    I really like your journal of rolling into school. I didn’t know SFU had this kind of program OR a satellite at Harbor front. I think Jemima’s advice above is really cool, Have FUN! And keep journaling – this could wind up being a book in itself. 🙂

    BTW…I suspect you’ll land in your own start-up…my two cents.



    1. Thank you, RR! We’re only two weeks in, but I definitely feel like I *belong* here, and that’s always a good feeling to have. It helps that everyone in my cohort is pretty amazing, too. Also, funny thing, since our discussion over on Facebook, my professor suggested we all blog over at Medium (he wants us to publish our essays for the class in the public domain there) so I suspect I’ll be talking about that soon, as well!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yeah, figure this stuff out for everyone please. I’m fairly interested in how collaboration happens…do you select editors / people who critique your stuff or is it more random?


    1. Thank you, Lissa!! I just got your letter the other day! I’ll be responding soon. 😀 It’s been a blast, and I’m very excited about it all, but it’s also mean a very big decision which I’ll be talking about in my next post: the retiring of my pen name Alex Hurst…. I’ll be going by my real name. Time to simplify my life!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Hahaha…. yeah, you better watch out. You’ll be in a classroom again before you know it…. in the student’s chair!


  3. This sounds AMAZING so far, Alex! I’m glad you’re enjoying yourself despite the few hiccups, and I look forward to hearing more about your adventures and lessons learned as the semester rolls along. 🙂

    Personally, I would choose interning, since I learn best through observation and hands-on experience. But all three options sound exciting, and I’ve no doubts that you’ll figure out which one will be the best choice for you.

    Also, what will you need to do as a caucus rep?


    1. Yeah, Sara, I’m having an amazing time!! And I’ve already started floating publisher names around with some of my teachers. I think I want to do an internship, too, I just have to really figure out how to make the place I really want a reality (but that would involve needing to find a place to live in New York for 1.5 months). Still, staying optimistic!

      As far as rep, I would be basically the person who helps decide where departmental funding goes for our cohort, and I have the option to try and (possibly) update the MPub website, which needs some more info for prospective students (and some sort of feed for publishing news for current students who want to go to lectures and events around town). Our department’s caucus is, ironically, the only one without a website! That kinda boggles my mind, lol.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Your excitement and enthusiasm practically jump out of the screen 🙂

    Remembering all the angst and worry in the spring, hearing this is refreshing. Hope week 2 and all the other weeks to follow are equally wonderful 🙂


    1. Yes, it’s really been a 180º since the spring. Sort of unreal how much moving changed our quality of life. And we only moved 15 minutes away from where we were originally. As far as school goes, I’m loving it… just trying very hard not to be the person who -always- raises their hand, haha.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I’m intrigued..not that I want to go back to school full-time at this time.
    Perhaps you can link or summarize mandatory courses which then there’s the optional internship, start-up firm, etc.for practical / direct application of theory/classroom learning.

    Does the program include business development, design systems thinking principles, etc. that is not necessarily tied to publishing?

    Interesting about no men in this year’s program start level.

    Have you considered interning/whatever in Washington state? Did you know Amtrak train goes daily between Vancouver and Seattle (other suburbs in between)? Did you know that Point Roberts is in the U.S. ..it’s just near White Rock BC across the international order? It’s a teeny tiny village of Americans…a pocket of foreigners.

    As for the roiling course time schedule…hmmm. I would actually include that in feedback eventually to the faculty.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The program is a generalist program that teaches book, magazine, and online publishing. This semester we’re focusing on acquisitions and editorial, management of a publishing house, design theory, and the evolution of technology in publishing. So I’m getting a pretty wide berth of knowledge to take with me. They’ve changed the program to be a choice between interning in the summer, building your own start up, or doing a heavy-duty research project. I’ll probably be interning, as it gives me an opportunity to network with others in the career field I want to enter, and that’s likely the most important thing toward me eventually getting a job.

      I would say it’s definitely focused on publishing itself, which would make sense, but many graduates are now working at communications managers for completely non-publishing enterprises. It’s “what you make out of it,” as most of my colleagues keep saying.

      I would intern close if I can, but I also am shooting BIG, so that means New York or Toronto, more than likely. If I don’t get my first choice, there are publishing houses in Vancouver that are in my wheelhouse (which would help me not have to live away from NJ for 2 months, and also support two rents during that time).


  6. I believe paid communications staff in my organization (it’s govn’t and huge, complex), the ads for their jobs often state preference for professional association activity in public relations, communications, etc. Our organization has recently undergone wholesale visual rebranding and tightening up on plain language standards. Visual rebranding extends to all internal and external templates, corporate information systems, SharePoint sites, all handouts, etc. But more importantly the approach on govn’t transparency and broadening citizen engagement. Publishing is just a …medium weight item in the whole communications and info.,dissemination plans.

    Liked by 1 person

Comments are closed