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'This Author's Life': Amy's Blog

Advice for College Students

The following are excerpts from a speech I made to students at Rutgers University’s School of Communication and Information on Nov. 14, 2013, New Brunswick, New Jersey:
"I am on my third career – newspapers, nonfiction books, and now novels. I’ve adapted. I’ve always been independent and that has worked in my favor. But I would say the main reason I have succeeded in a time of dramatic change is that I had the proper education and training, as you will have. Everything I learned 30 years ago still applies. The need for reporting and other forms of human communication and information-sharing continues. Story-telling is part of human nature.
You are coming of age and entering the work force in a time of tremendous change that is no where near settled: That’s the bad news. But it’s also the good news. There is opportunity during times of change.
One of the problems in our culture is that too many people have access to technology who don’t have the training you will have. They are not truly communicating. They don’t even know how to argue. They are making noise and, worse, they are making civil discourse impossible. We need people like you. We need critical thinkers, expert writers. We need people who can guide and lead and advance the conversation. Our Democracy depends on it.
The biggest favor you can do for yourself is to stay away from negative-thinking people. Take risks and forget the naysayers. I was often told, “That will never sell” or “no one will read that” – even when I was working on HAVING OUR SAY, which, as it turned out, sold millions of copies. You will find people in your career who try to discourage you from trying things that are new. Don’t listen."
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