I’m writing this on the Sunday (24th January) after my first full week at work and already I can’t believe that five full days have passed.
I felt like a nervous schoolgirl on the day before term started last Sunday night: I polished my new shiny black ‘work shoes’, I packed my lunch things and I swapped all my things into my ‘work handbag’ (ie. more or less the same as my normal handbag, but with more space for my book for the commute!)
The 5.45am alarm was pretty painful on Monday morning, but I didn’t want to miss the start of my Induction under any circumstances. As is my wont as a previous resident in Germany, I was embarrassingly early, so I went and checked out the amazingly cheap coffee bar and flicked through all the paperwork I’d been sent, to make sure I hadn’t forgotten anything.
The HR induction lasted for most of the morning, with various members of staff coming in to talk about all the essentials like Payroll, Pensions, Group IT and, importantly, the Social Committee. We then had a little tour of the building, including the new gym in the basement, had truly awful photos taken for our security passes, and were then picked up from Reception by our managers.
It was nice to see the friendly Scottish face of my manager C, who showed me the new route I’ll take every day to my desk. I am working within the huge division that is English Language Teaching on the Adult sub-team that falls within the wider Digital Delivery team. We sit alongside the Spain, Primary and Secondary Digital delivery teams in the same open-plan office as our corresponding Content Production teams. I was introduced to my new colleagues and logged onto my new computer – first task of the new job is to get used to using two widescreen desktop PCs!
I had a lot of access problems in my first week, and it was reassuring to see that the chronic problem we had at T&F (the previous academic publishing house I worked at) of having lots of passwords for lots of different systems which don’t often like communicating with each other is a chronic publishing problem! I saw it as a challenge: how many of the access issues could I fix myself without crying help to the ‘emergency’ email address that IT set up especially for new starters like me! I think I did quite well, and by the end of the week, most things were working.
I spent the majority of the week familiarising myself with the projects and products I’ll be working on – from the in-house system used to make the software we sell for interactive whiteboards to the workflow for the successful eBook learning app that we have. I signed up for a tonne of training sessions in skills I’ll need to be halfway decent at my job, like Microsoft Project, Visio and my old friend Excel. I also completed the incredibly non-essential job of adding some special touches to my new desk, as you can see in the photo 🙂
In addition to the compulsory training, I also stumbled upon an internal course online all about ELT Methodology, which was designed so that staff with no ELT background can understand the pedagogical concepts underpinning the layout and design of our coursebooks. For geeky old me, it was like a test to see how much of the CELTA I could remember! I definitely learnt some new things though, like the term ‘principled eclecticism’ to talk about the latest approach to teaching, whereby teachers mix a bit of all the various famous approaches together and tailor it to their students. It’s definitely what I used to do in Berlin, but I didn’t realise it had an official name!
There were also some nice lunches with new colleagues – of course, I’ve found the only German in my whole office, and we had a delightful plate of fish and chips (including mushy peas!) for the amazing price of £4. I’ve also met up with one of the girls I did induction with, who is working in the Global Academic Division in Science Editorial, so it’s been interesting to hear how Editorial roles at OUP differ from their equivalents back at T&F.
Comedy relief for my first week came in the form of my struggle to not shake the hand of every new person I met, Germany-stylee…. Cue lots of awkward hand movements, as I realised too late that nobody in England does that, and I then had to pretend to play with my hair or my dress.
To be perfectly honest, the whole week was a blur of cups of tea and coffee as I tried to get used to sitting in front of two widescreen monitors for 7 hours a day again, as well as meeting a heap of new people, learning a bunch of new acronyms and navigating my way around a giant building with an early 19th century shell and a 21st century interior! It’s great to be back in a routine, but fingers crossed it all starts to make a bit more sense next week!