How to survive a new publishing job

Unbelievably, I have now been at OUP for four weeks. I am slowly getting to grips with the 25 or so projects I’ll be managing (more about those in another post…to come soon I hope!) and everyone has been incredibly patient and kind with me as I find my feet. I love the company so far: the atmosphere is great, the workload seems manageable and, most importantly, the cafeteria is miles ahead of the cafe on the business park where I used to work!

But, onto more serious matters! This is now my third ‘proper’ publishing job, so I feel I’m just about qualified to share some of my tips on how to survive a new role in this wonderful industry. Hopefully the tips will be relevant across other industries too, and I’d love to hear yours!

  • Write everything down
    When new processes are explained to you; when new acronyms are mentioned; when new people are mentioned – write it all down at the start so you a) don’t have to ask twice and b) can refer back to them as you get to grips with everything. If you hear things you don’t understand, write them down too and then make sure you clarify them afterwards.
    My recommendation is to do this within a Microsoft Word document using their in-built Styles, so you can easily navigate between headings of different items.
  • Keep a note of all passwords for systems
    I wouldn’t ever confess it to Group IT, but I have a semi-protected spreadsheet with a list of all the systems I need to use and their corresponding passwords. My way of reassuring myself it’s ‘safer’, though, is to not write my actual passwords, but a pretty obvious clue to me as to what they are.
  • Say yes to all the workshops and training you can get your hands on.
    You never know when budgets might be cut or freezes introduced, so particularly at the start of your job I’d recommend booking as many sessions as you can! I’ve done lots of very job-specific training so far, but I’ve also managed to get myself on three ‘bitesize’ Excel courses, one on Microsoft Visio and one on Microsoft Project – all programmes I’ll then add to my CV once I’ve practised with them a little bit.
  • Keep a note of all acronyms
    Perhaps this is a problem that’s more endemic to digital publishing, but I experienced it in my last role and the same thing is happening now that everyone talks in a company-specific language, and it takes a real trained ear to get used to discerning which acronyms mean what in which situation! I’d been doing this until I attended a training session specific to my division (ELT, or English Language Teaching) and was told that a new ELT Glossary had recently been unveiled on our Share site! So that is most certainly bookmarked.
  • Bookmark, map and pin your socks off
    That leads me nicely to my next point: bookmark all the useful websites you’re introduced to. Whether you’re a Bookmarks bar kind of person, or whether you prefer a folder structure, make sure you save those key links out of the endless emails you’ll no doubt receive them in. I already have systems and sites which require a mixture of Chrome, Firefox AND Internet Explorer to run, which means I have 3 internet browsers pinned to my taskbar. On a similar note, I recommend pinning all useful programmes to your Task bar (if you use a Windows, that is, I have no clue about Macs!) and mapping all frequently-used drives to your computer.
  • Make the most of the tools at your disposal
    This may be painfully obvious to some, but I have recently discovered that you can have more than one Calendar in Microsoft Outlook, so I am using one to plan my workload (when I want to work on which project, deadlines etc.) and I overlay that on top of my main calendar where people book meetings with me. And you can colour-code the whole thing and have a great time – what’s not to love?!
  • Make a real effort to meet people
    Brave the kitchen on your own; ask if people want to have lunch with you, and tag along to any pub trips you can. I’ve already been on 2 pub trips and countless lunches since I started and it’s such a great way to meet people beyond your immediate team.
  • Sleep!
    Not turning up totally knackered on your first few days and weeks will make the whole process of starting a new job much easier to…process! I’ve been timing my train naps to perfection as well, and the little sleep top-up helps energise me for any evening plans I have after work, too.

And most importantly: enjoy! I’m trying really hard not to get stressed, as worrying about my old job led to some tummy problems, and not having a laptop means I can’t take work home anyway – it’s all about that work/life balance 🙂

Let me know if you have any other tips to add to the list!




4 thoughts on “How to survive a new publishing job

  1. All good tips! I also write everything down, even when I’ve been on a job for awhile. Oh, the acronyms! I’ve worked in ELT, transportation engineering, environmental planning and healthcare, and there are always loads of acronyms to learn.


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