Here’s what’s up in the Spooniverse, according to our members.

How to Utilize Spoon HQ as Professional Mentors

Professional mentors who are also obsessed with food??!!

For the majority of new Spoon members, “HQ” is a loose term that’s often confusing and seems like a mythical office of flowing food, Instagram icons, and well-filtered photos. However, the longer I’ve been a Spoon UF writer, the more Spoon HQ members have become a vital part of my Spoon experience.

They’re not untouchable names in our Gmail inboxes–they’re talented people that are food gurus and super knowledgeable about their fields. Although it’s tempting to just stay in contact with your local Editorial Director, Photo Director, or Marketing Director, reaching out to the New York City crew is ultra-useful too.

Summer Writing Program

Mackenzie Barth

My first in-depth exposure to HQ members was through Spoon’s Summer Intensive Writing Program. For me, “intensive” was an understatement–working 40 hours a week, attempting to write, photograph, and edit articles, AND living with a new puppy was difficult AF. It was more of a summer shitshow than a summer break. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

However, HQ was responsive and reassuring and put up with my unconventional ideas (i.e. Eulogy for My Finished Jar of Peanut Butter, The Timeline of a Girl Who’s Addicted to LaCroix Water–really Mackenz??).  My articles were also published within a few days of submitting them for review, which was encouraging.

The first secret to getting a professional Spoon mentor is reaching out. Sam Dilling, who was the lead editor for the summer program, always posted links to her virtual office hours in every email. I took advantage of this opportunity and reached out to the editor behind the email address–and I had real, live conversation with a Spoon human!

Finley Cruger

Spoon HQ is also flexible time-wise; I was working during all of Sam’s office hours, so we arranged to speak around 6:30 p.m. (which is rare since most people say adios bitches at five). Although talking about my progress in the summer program was useful, it was our side conversations that intrigued me the most: writing versus accounting, Bitch Media, Sam’s experience at the NYU Summer Publishing Institute, etc.

She actually cared about me and was willing to navigate my murky future and career with me–and her experiences/professional career were fascinating for an aspiring writer. Getting a professional mentor means side-railing from normal conversation and broaching topics a parent or friend might be biased about.

It was incredible to have this third-party resource that 1) understood my background, 2) liked food as much as I did, and 3) was rooting for me from thousands of miles away. Fiddling with Slack was worth the conversation, all made possible by reaching out and taking the initiative.

Personalized Pitches

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Mackenzie Patel

Sometimes professional mentorship flies out of the chimney like a Hogwarts letter—except, unlike Harry Potter, you actually catch it. I’m talking about development opportunities that randomly come about (and which you should totally capitalize on). At the beginning of August, Rachel Williamson (Managing Editor) contacted me about writing an Ancient Roman article.

She had read my previous article about Rome and wanted to explore the connection between food and modern/ancient politics. Despite junior year starting, a career meltdown, and other article deadlines, I gratefully accepted the chance. I’m UNHEALTHILY obsessed with Ancient Rome, so I was buzzing with ancient excitement and Rough Roman Memes inspiration.

Although we communicated via email, I learned so much through sending drafts, edits, and ideas to Rachel. I learned how to communicate complex ideas in a short email and handle constructive criticism–through her, I realized people do read my work and think it’s worth something. (Thanks, Rachel!)

While her mentorship was more technical, it's indicative of most working relationships in this tech-heavy age. What I learned: never say no to a pitch HQ approaches you with. Often times, they know your interests and writing style better than you do.

Start Networking

Marina Burke

Young, interesting, and skilled peeps with a knack for gorging on food–and our success is their best interest. That’s pretty neat! Whether it’s as simple as reacting to a Slack post or asking a Support question, engaging with Spoon HQ is important for anyone looking to get more than food and pageviews out of Spoon.

It’s about developing professional and social relationships. Who knows where that one editor you collaborated with will be in ten years (and vice versa)? HQ is a breeding ground for opportunities, so get out that petri dish and start experimenting.