Let’s Go Attracts Large Pool of Applicants

Despite a year marred by harsh criticism from its publishers and the death of a researcher-writer, Let’s Go has drawn an unusually large applicant pool this year.

Applications to edit Let’s Go’s 40 travel guides—which were due at the end of last month—were the highest in five or six years, according to Publishing Director Matthew D. Gibson ’03.

Let’s Go editors attribute the increase to stepped-up recruiting efforts and a downturn in the economy that may have decreased students’ other summer job options.

“We’re making a lot of big changes at Let’s Go this year so we’ve stepped up our recruitment process dramatically,” said Let’s Go Editor-in-Chief Brain R. Walsh ’02.

Let’s Go put 5,000 recruiting posters around the campus, up from 600 last year.

Newly-hired editor Stefan E. Jacob ’03 was drawn in by the campaign.

“You should see Currier. No one [typically] gets to the Quad to poster but it’s plastered with Let’s Go signs,” he said.

“This year we tried to make ourselves more accessible to everyone and put more of an effort into reaching as many people as possible and doing it as personally as possible,” Personnel Manager Owen T. Robinson ’02.

In addition, the economic downturn may have played a role.

“The application pool was a little more competitive than most years due in part to a slump in the economy,” Walsh said.

Robinson said he believed the applicants were motivated by the program’s features rather than by the dearth of other jobs.

“I talked to over 100 people and most of their questions were content related, not about the salary,” Robinson said.

The rise in Let’s Go applications comes on the heels of a year that was unkind to the travel guide series.

On June 12, Haley S. Surti ’01 died in a bus crash in Peru while doing research for one of Let’s Go’s travel guides. Her death was the first fatality in the publication’s 40-year history.

Additionally, a report commissioned last July by its publisher St. Martin’s Press recommended they discontinue the series, citing “numerous editorial weaknesses” and saying the series is “out of step” with its market.

Let’s Go’s current contract with St. Martin’s continues until 2006 and executives expect their relationship with St. Martin’s to continue beyond that.

“We’ve worked for them for a long time and we don’t anticipate that ending,” said Gibson.

—Staff writer George B. Bradt can be reached at gbradt@fas.harvard.edu.s