Who’s Down With OUP?

  

Oxford University Press (OUP) has an incredibly diverse publishing program and is the largest University Press in the world. Several Pace MS in Publishing alumnae and students are currently working and interning at OUP and they all talked about their experiences in publishing, their academic studies at Pace, and their work at OUP with MS in Publishing’s Professor Denning. Here are some snippets from the interviews:

Margaret Harrison ’12
Ebook Global Supply Chain Manager

Professor Denning: It is very exciting to have such a strong contingent of Pace graduates at OUP and we are especially proud of your accomplishments. Could you tell us a bit about what is you do at Oxford University Press?

Margaret: I was hired in June 2011 to found the Ebook Global Supply Chain office, and we are now a transatlantic team of three overseeing ebook operations for the global academic business, including conversion, distribution and process. (Rachel Menth, another alumna of the MS in Publishing Program, actually works on my team!) Currently I do a fair bit of project management and lead business process improvement for ebook work. Every day I have at least three to five problems that require solving. And I work with colleagues across numerous departments, US and UK. I love visiting our Oxford office and collaborating with my UK colleagues. Since I started at OUP, we have launched the UK’s ebook business, converted more than 4,000 US and UK EPUBs, distributed more than 10,000 ebooks, launched international partnerships with Kobo, Google, and others, documented for the first time global ebook processes for the press, and led an ebook data reconciliation project to clean up more than 30,000 ebook records in our systems. I have an amazing team that’s worked very hard to achieve these milestones.

Professor Denning: What advice would you give to a Pace student hoping to begin a career in publishing? What advice would you offer someone who is interested in working at Oxford?

Margaret: Networking has literally led to every job I’ve ever had, from the time I was 16. It is so important to “build it before you need it” as the saying goes. Spend some time on your LinkedIn profile and think about how to optimize your profile for your audience so you stand out. Include a link to a copy of your Pace thesis. Ask your professors to post a recommendation. Then network with everyone you can think of: your dentist, your grandma’s neighbor, the local barkeep. You just never know when you might make that meaningful connection.

Professor Denning:  Are you involved in the MS in Publishing program in any way today?

Margaret:  Yes! Earlier this year I gave several guest lectures in the Pace University China-U.S. Publishing Program. This was a great opportunity to share recent successes in our ebook program at OUP as part of a continuing education initiative. One day I hope to teach in the MS in Publishing Program, teaching students about digital workflows (and especially encouraging young women to pursue technology tracks in publishing).


Melanie Mitzman ’12 
Assistant Marketing Manager for Economics, Finance, and Business

Professor Denning:  How would you describe the work environment at Oxford?

Melanie: It’s a truly global working experience. Everyone is very friendly and helpful, especially when it comes to finding the right person to reach out to in each unique situation. It’s a nice combination of individual and teamwork, and working in such an expansive company has been a great way to improve my skills at working with lots of different people.

Professor Denning:  What advice would you give to a Pace student hoping to begin a career in book or magazine publishing? What advice would you offer someone who is interested in working at Oxford?

Melanie: You have to truly love publishing in order to commit yourself to it, due to the difficult work and often low pay. Being at the right company and/or finding a mentor (or two) at a job can vastly improve that experience and make a huge difference in how you view your work. And always pay it forward. After a few years in the business, it can be easy to forget what it was like when you first started, but it’s always good to remember those roots by helping the newest members of the publishing world.

Professor Denning:  Anything else or any advice you would like to give to current students and alumni?

Melanie: I would really recommend meeting, making friends with, and working with as many people as possible in your classes. These are the people you will continue to run into throughout your career, either in the office or social networking events, and you will almost certainly grow together and possibly look to each other for references or job opportunities. These are your friends, but they are also great assets for your career development.

Brianna Marron ’11 
Editorial Assistant

Professor Denning:  Please describe a bit about what your job entails.

Brianna:  My job requires me to have four arms, and an increased tolerance for caffeine, but I wouldn’t trade it. My day-to-day tasks include constant contact with authors to ensure they are writing their manuscripts, and to help shepherd the entire process for them.  Some of the basic tasks I perform include identifying and evaluating print and online publishing and distribution opportunities, analyzing competition, conducting market research, and basically being the liaison between the author and all departments: production, marketing, publicity, sales, design, and so forth. Some of the more creative and fun tasks I get to do are creating concepts for covers and researching images, writing cover copy, and writing book descriptions that feed onto our website and other booksellers’ websites, like Amazon.

Professor Denning:  How do you feel that the MS in Publishing program prepared you for a career in the publishing industry?

Brianna:  From the get-go, the instructors were all helpful and really wanted to know why I was in their class, and they really listened and helped me strengthen the skills I already had, and combine them with the skills I needed to work in the type of publishing environment I wanted; they really tried to cater their classes to the reasons each student had for being there.  And the program is also designed for those students who don’t really know what area in publishing they want to pursue, as you will learn about all the various aspects of publishing.  Again, I wouldn’t trade my job, but the publishing industry is changing so rapidly, that some days, I really just want to go back to Pace to learn it all again, because the moment you think you understand publishing is the moment the industry transmutes to the changing century.

Professor Denning:  Anything else or any advice you would like to give to current students and alumni?

Brianna: Stay informed. Read the news, read everything, attend different types of lectures, take advantage of being in NYC where culture thrives all around; this is where ideas for books generate.  To grow in a publishing career, it is not enough to come to work, type in data, read manuscripts, and go through the general motions.  You need to have a genuine interest in your surroundings—the people around you, the community around you, the problems, the luxuries—take time to notice the undetected world around you; this is where books are born, and this is the foundation of your career.

Maria Garguilo ’13 
Editorial Intern

Professor Denning:  How do you feel that the MS in Publishing program has been working to prepare you for a career in the publishing industry?

Maria:  Pace has helped to prepare me for a career in the publishing industry by making the industry tangible in many ways, including having professors who have first-hand publishing experience. In many of the classes I’ve taken, the industry stories that professors sometimes share with us are just as interesting and useful as the course material they’re teaching. Another way Pace makes the industry tangible is by making internship opportunities readily available and really encouraging students to take those opportunities. Lastly, Pace offers students the opportunity to take part in industry meetings, conferences, etc. My first month at Pace, I attended the Book Industry Study Group Annual Meeting. I didn’t understand a lot of what was going on, but just being there, and being surrounded by industry professionals was inspiring. And I know that many students took advantage of going to BEA this summer (I was traveling and couldn’t attend). These are events that I would not have access to without Pace, and I feel grateful that I’m a part of a program where the faculty cares about giving students all the tools they need to succeed in the future.

Professor Denning: What was the topic of your Graduate Thesis paper and can you tell us about what you think the value of writing it is for students?

Maria: The topic of my Graduate Thesis paper was how the 50 Shades of Grey phenomenon came to be. It wasn’t an analysis of the books’ content, but the process of how an unknown author who wrote fan fiction ended up becoming Publishers Weekly Person of the Year in 2012. I wrote a thesis as an undergraduate at University at Albany, too, and I think in both cases the value of writing a thesis is feeling like you are a bit of an expert on a certain topic. Although the research and writing can feel overwhelming at times, when it is complete, it is a great source of pride, and gives you a sense of accomplishment. Maybe more importantly, your thesis is a great writing sample that you can show to future employers to show that you can not only write, but also conduct research and organize it in a coherent way.

Read the full interviews on the MS in Publishing blog.

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