A closet-sized office in the University of Connecticut's Student Union houses a small group of students working on a unique project. It’s a product that many students don’t know exists, and yet for most, it will become an emblem of their undergraduate years and an artifact that reinvigorates college memories for decades.
This is Nutmeg Yearbook.
Fewer than 20 students work throughout the academic year and into the summer to produce the Nutmeg, which is automatically sent out to every graduating student.
This is the second book Leah Pemberton has produced as editor-in-chief. A 21-year-old marketing major, Pemberton spends around 15 hours a week in the office overseeing spread layouts, editing copy, contacting alumni, reaching out to portrait photographers, and corresponding with the publishing representative, among other tasks.
“Time management at this job is insane,” Pemberton, who spent nights at the Nutmeg office finishing the 2011 yearbook, said. “I slept on the couch and didn’t leave this room for days.”
And the work is well recognized. Nutmeg is included in national yearbook look-books and Pemberton received an unofficial job offer as a publishing representative from Walsworth Yearbooks, which prints and binds the Nutmeg.
For Pemberton, Assistant Editor-in-Chief Gregory Bruno, and Business Manager Mark Selvaggi, Nutmeg has been a career-building experience.
“We’re running a business here. Anything related to finances I can apply to my job,” Pemberton said. “Nutmeg is at the top of my resume.”
Selvaggi, a junior studying finance, said the Nutmeg got him his internship at Prudential Finance. He said he’s working there again this summer and is expecting a job offer at Prudential after graduation in 2013.
As business manager, Selvaggi handles all sources of income and spending for the Nutmeg. He writes contracts, projects the budget for the next five years, arranges compensation for when the staff goes to conferences, and petitions for new software and equipment.
“If it’s business-related, then I do it,” Selvaggi said.
For Bruno, who deals with a lot of the artistic facets of the book’s design, interned at a photography studio in New York City. He credits the internship with teaching him the importance of meticulousness and thoughtful composition. Bruno is a junior studying psychology, but plans to head to graduate school for graphic design following graduation.
As much as Nutmeg is a launching pad for these students interested in publishing or business, it is also a familial ensemble of college students. They have mini-celebrations at Sonic Burger and shopping malls after meeting deadlines.
“These two,” Pemberton said of Bruno and Selvaggi, “I don’t think I’ve worked with two better people ever…I don’t even know, it’s just so good.”
Though final deadlines for publishing are not until August, the executive editors, including Pemberton, Bruno, and Selvaggi, implement rolling deadlines, the first of which is in October.
The first few weeks of each school year are devoted to teaching the staff what good layout and design looks like, Pemberton said. The staff all is trained on how to write solid copy and how to take print-worthy photographs.
While a university survey about student organizations reported that only 68 percent of students know that the university has a yearbook, Business Manager Selvaggi is thankful for the resources and recognition the university provides, particularly in a time when many colleges have online-only yearbooks, if any at all.
“Just the fact that we have a printed yearbook at the university is a big deal,” Selvaggi said.
This semester, Nutmeg has campaigned to get more funding. As a Tier III student organization, Nutmeg is funded directly by university student fees, rather than through the undergraduate student government. The extra $3 per semester the group requested was to make an all-color yearbook. Currently, the book is 20 percent color.
Though students voted down the increase, the yearbook will be printed in all-color 2013 using surplus funds.
“Students live for today, they don’t live for 30 years from now when they want to look back on their senior year,” Pemberton said.
For the first time ever, yearbooks of the last four years will be for sale at the Co-Op, allowing interested students the opportunity to buy a book from their underclassman years and providing the yearbook another source of revenue. The cost will be about $50 per book, Pemberton said.