Talk to as many people as you can.
Talking to the person who’s currently in the position you’re running for—that’s a must. But you should also speak with all the editors that person works with, people on that person’s staff, and people who once held the position. Particularly for people aiming to lead a section (or the paper), it’s useful to get a sense of how the section has progressed over the years. If you have an idea that’s been tried before unsuccessfully, you’ll be much better off explaining why you can make that idea work where others have failed rather than presenting it as something entirely new—if you try the latter, the board will likely push you on the former, anyway. The more you know, the better candidate you’ll be. If you'd like to speak to alumni that are no longer around, let a member of the CB know and we’ll be happy to put you in touch.
Peruse the archives.
Spectator really does have a long, rich history, and it’s amazing what you’ll find by looking through our archives. By way of example, here are a few things about Spectator that you may not know:
- In its earliest incarnation as a biweekly literary magazine, Spectator published New Yorker-style single-panel cartoons.
- Several times in its history, Spectator has published editorials on its front page.
- Even before The Eye came into being, Spectator had been in the magazine business. Spec’s published a glossy weekly magazine, a literary magazine, and a magazine-sized “guide to Columbia” for freshmen.
- For years, Spectator reported on statewide and national issues.
The archives can give you a valuable understanding of Spectator’s trajectory over its many years, and they can also give you tons of good ideas. The challenges facing Spectator today certainly have a distinct character, but they wouldn’t be alien to editors from Spectator’s past—even the guys from 1877, whose version of Spectator, though completely different from today’s, still has many valuable lessons to impart.
Read old proposals.
They’ll spark ideas, give you a better sense of Spectator’s trajectory over the last few years, and provide a lot of necessary background if you want to talk to the people who wrote them.
Don’t neglect your other responsibilities.
If you’re shooting for a new position, chances are good that you already have responsibilities at Spectator. Don’t forget about them. Your greatest asset as a candidate is a strong record of performance in your currentrole.
Make good use of the time.
You have several weeks to learn as much and think as hard as you can about the position you’re running for. Start on day one. But if all of the suggestions we’ve made above seem overwhelming, don’t worry—compared to your body of work from this year, everything else is secondary. Make sure that remains the priority. Focus on displaying the qualities in your current job that you think qualify you to take on a bigger one. And this goes without saying: Don’t write your proposal the night it’s due.
Be genuine—and respectful.
The most compelling candidates are those with a clear vision who are also open about their strengths and weaknesses, and the strongest proposals are those that address Spectator’s challenges realistically. It’s important, in other words, to be genuine. The strongest candidates are sometimes those who rub certain people the wrong way while impressing others with their candor. That said, you also have to demonstrate an ability to work with your peers—you can’t succeed in a leadership role without that. You aren’t going to win any points in that area by making clear that you intend to ignore the feedback of anyone who might disagree with you.
Remember that the available positions aren’t set in stone.
We intend to make this process as fair as possible because we believe that’s the best way to end up with the strongest possible staff for next year. The positions listed are the ones we intend to fill. However, there can sometimes be discrepancies between the number and strengths of the candidates running and the number and structure of the leadership roles available. The board is thus sometimes compelled to make changes to positions during deliberations. That has in the past included splitting single positions between two people, eliminating positions by leaving them empty, calling in candidates for additional interviews, and making offers to candidates for jobs other than the ones for which they initially run. It is the duty of the turkeyshoot board to put the next board in a position to succeed, even if this means deviating from the anticipated framework.
Take a deep breath.
Breathe in. Hold it. Release. You’ll do great.