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Three Bucks, Two Bags, One Me

Mercedes Padro


I’m moving to New York City from Illinois next week!! A couple months ago, I purchased a one-way plane ticket from Chicago to NY after listening to a podcast and reading a book about how YOU are in charge of your future and to make active changes to make YOU happy. Completely cliche, but it’s exactly what I needed to hear on my long drive home from visiting Kansas City. It was my “aha!” moment.

I decided that what would make me happy is to fulfill my dream of living in NY and working at a publishing house – the more specific the details, the better. I wrote a rough plan for the coming months, but in all honesty…I had no idea where I was going to work, live, or anything! I have a handful of friends in NY and no family there (which is shocking because my family is huge and everywhere). What’s a 24 year old recent design graduate to do?

This past year I’ve lived with my parents (for which I am eternally grateful), worked as a substitute teacher, and worked as a Freelance Designer/Illustrator. The time I’ve had at home has been invaluable to save for the move and to spend time with my family. I was there during difficult times with the loss of my sassy and precious Grandma Mercedes. I was there during the holidays with my niece eagerly opening presents for her eight birthday and Christmas. I was there during fun and exciting times when we celebrated my dad’s 70th birthday by watching the Cub’s defeat Cincinnati at Wrigley Field. This is the last time I’ll live with my family, so I cherish these moments spent with my parents, siblings, niece, and doggos (respectively named Frosty and Brownie by my niece).

Beware the power of a determined, driven, and intelligent women because trust me, she is a femme power to behold.

The moment I decided to move to NY, I chose to pick up another job, the more savings – the better! So the generous crew at Target welcomed me back for a short time. My weekdays are taken up by subbing, and I work at Target for the nights/weekends. In addition to all of this, I’ve been crazy applying to jobs, internships, and grants in the NY area. 

In early May, I received the news that I’d be interning at HarperCollins, the second largest publishing house in the world, in their Children’s Book Design Department – there were over 1,000 applicants and I am one of 18 (paid) interns working for HarperCollins this summer 2017!! After a year of applying to jobs post-graduation, I have to say that this is my dream opportunity and it will open up more doors in the future. The program runs from June 5th to August 10th with a final presentation from the interns in front of the HarperCollins staff. Woah. Walking across the stage at KCAI’s commencement, I never would have anticipated I’d be here a year later, but I believe it’s exactly what’s supposed to happen and I’m so excited for what the future holds.

Another great piece of news, yesterday I was awarded the “We Need Diverse Books Internship grant.” The We Need Diverse Books program “provides grants to students from diverse backgrounds who wish to pursue a career in children’s publishing.” I am one of eight people awarded this grant for the summer that includes a metro card stipend. Wow. For those of you who know me personally, you know that I am very passionate about diversity. We live in a diverse world and in a diverse country, so why not work toward diversifying children’s literature? 

Who says that we have to compromise what we want out of life? I’m interning at my dream internship while being funded by an organization specific to diversity – everything I’m passionate about all in one summer. I. Am. So. Lucky. And I am so appreciative of all the support from family, friends, and organizations that have got me to this point. Luckily, for the first month in New York I’ll be staying with a friend in Brooklyn, so it’ll be a smooth transition. Nothing is working out as expected, but everything is working out as it should, and honestly it’s working out way better than I expected. Excited for next week and what’s to come!