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Alumni in the Spotlight Interviews

 

Pace University MS in Publishing Alumni and students at Oxford University Press

 

Oxford University Press (OUP) has an incredibly diverse publishing program and is the largest University Press in the world. It is a department of the University of Oxford and its worldwide publishing furthers the University’s objectives of excellence in scholarship, research, and education.

OUP publishes in many countries, in more than 40 languages, and in a variety of formats–print and digital. Their products cover an extremely broad academic and educational spectrum and they aim to make their content available to their users in whichever format suits their needs. OUP publishes for all audiences–from pre-school to secondary level schoolchildren; students to academics; general readers to researchers; individuals to institutions.

OUP currently publishes over 6,000 titles a year worldwide, in a variety of format and their range includes dictionaries, English language teaching materials, children’s books, journals, scholarly monographs, printed music, higher education textbooks, and schoolbooks.  Many of these titles are created specifically for local markets and are published by OUP’s regional publishing branches. OUP sells more than 110 million units each year, and most of those sales are outside the UK.

A number of Pace MS in Publishing alumnae and students are currently working and interning at OUP and they all graciously agreed to talk to us about their experiences in publishing, their academic studies at Pace and their work at OUP.  It is a remarkable group and we hope you enjoy and learn from what they have to say!

For a bit of background, here is a brief history of the Press:

OUP History

A Brief History of Oxford University Press

Oxford University Press has a rich history which can be traced back to the earliest days of printing.

The first book was printed in Oxford in 1478, just two years after Caxton set up the first printing press in England. The University was involved with several printers in Oxford over the next century, although there was no formal university press.

In 1586 the University of Oxford’s right to print books was recognized in a decree from the Star Chamber. This was enhanced in the Great Charter secured by Archbishop Laud from King Charles I, which entitled the University to print ‘all manner of books’.

Delegates were first appointed by the University to oversee this process in 1633. Minutes of their deliberations are recorded dating back to 1668. The structure of Oxford University Press (OUP) as it exists today began to develop in a recognizable form from that time.

The University also established its right to print the King James Authorized Version of the Bible in the seventeenth century. This Bible Privilege formed the basis of OUP’s publishing activities throughout the next two centuries.

From the late 1800s OUP began to expand significantly, opening the first overseas OUP office in New York in 1896. Other international branches followed, including Canada (1904), Australia (1908), India (1912), Southern Africa (1914).

Today OUP has offices in 50 countries, and is the largest university press in the world and  currently publishes over 6,000 titles a year worldwide, in a variety of formats.

OUP’s  range includes dictionaries, English language teaching materials, children’s books, journals, scholarly monographs, printed music, higher education textbooks, and schoolbooks.  Oup sells more than 110 million units each year, and most of those sales are outside of the UK.

To learn  more about Oxford University Press today. check out the video below:

OUP Video

 

 

 

 

 

Margaret Harrison is the Ebook Global Supply Chain Manager at Oxford University Press in New York. Ms. Harrison graduated from the MS in Publishing program in 2012 and received the Dyson College Outstanding Graduate Student of the Year Award as well as the Publishing Award.  Prior to her position at OUP, Ms. Harrison was the  Manager of Business Development & Strategic Partnerships at Vook and was also Publisher Relations Specialist at OverDrive, Inc.

 

Prof Denning:   Thank you Margaret for agreeing to be interviewed for our blog.  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:  Hello! I am the Ebook Global Supply Chain Manager and I’ve been at OUP about two years.

My job is constantly changing! I was hired in June 2011 to found the Ebook Global Supply Chain office, and we are now a transatlantic team of 3 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.

Prof. Denning:  How did you end up at Oxford?

Oxford was a client of mine when I worked at OverDrive, and I remembered that their ebook program had been just taking off when I worked with them during 2009 and 2010. It seemed like an ideal time to join in 2011 — still plenty of new ground to cover.

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:  How would you describe the work environment at Oxford?

Margaret:  I am inspired and challenged on a daily basis by my Oxford colleagues. I love it! It’s an eclectic group who are very passionate about their interests, which usually include at least one academic vertical. Many colleagues are aspiring academics, or former (or current) professors or writers. It’s a creative office full of people who love their work and love the people with whom they collaborate.

Because we’re a nonprofit and affiliated with the university, our work is mission-driven: we publish scholarly and educational work that we think will benefit society. It makes for a de-corporatized culture.

It’s also worth mentioning that because we are a global academic business, it’s a culture that relies heavily on email due to the time differences. That required a bit of adjustment for me!

Professor Denning:  Have you ever worked with an intern who was also from the MS in Publishing program at Pace?

Margaret:  No, but I did recommended two fellow Pace graduates for jobs at OUP — and they are now colleagues of mine!

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

Margaret:  I started the program with experience on the digital side but very little knowledge of how a traditional publishing house works. Through Pace I learned a lot about production through Prof. Delano’s course, and also about marketing and business plans from Prof. Soares. My goal was to eventually work for a traditional publisher, and thanks to Pace I was able to achieve that. I also have to highlight my relationship with Prof. Soares, which has continued beyond my education at Pace. Manuela’s mentorship and insight has been invaluable to me. In fact, she convinced me to pursue this opportunity at OUP, and I’m so glad I did.

Prof. 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?

Margaret:  I wrote my thesis on the international standard text code (ISTC), a new work-level identifier used in the publishing supply chain. Publishers now use many different ISBNs to identify products derived from a work, and the feedback from publishers and vendors alike is that it’s become unruly to keep track of them all. Several of the industry’s standards organizations came up with the concept of a standardized work-level identifier to be used in addition to an ISBN. From my research I concluded that this standardized identifier is not actually necessary and is far too complex to be centralized – in fact many publishers have created their own proprietary work-level identifiers, which seems to work just as well.

Thanks to guidance from Prof. Soares, my thesis was published last summer in Publishing Research Quarterly. I also now sit on the identifier committee for the Book Industry Study Group.

Mine is an experience which demonstrates how the graduate thesis paper can be professionally enriching. For those students seeking career opportunities, the thesis paper is a chance to garner expertise on a chosen topic and also create a great network of publishing contacts through your interviews.

Prof. 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).

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

Margaret: I am always happy to connect with current students or alumni. Find me on LinkedIn or contact me by email:  margaret.h.harrison@gmail.com .

 

Melanie Mitzman is the Assistant Marketing Manager for Economics, Finance, and Business at Oxford University Press.  She graduated from the MS in Publishing program in 2012. Ms. Mitzman has worked as the Publishing Manager at Vanguard Press of Perseus Books Groups , a Marketing Manager at Triumph Learning and as a Sales and Marketing Coordinator at Inc. Magazine.

 

Prof. Denning: Thank you for agreeing to be interviewed for our blog Melanie.  It is great to have a chance to talk to you about your career and your studies at Pace.  Can you tell us what your job title at Oxford University Press, and how long have you been working there?

Prof. Denning:  How did you hear about the job at Oxford?

Melanie:  I am Assistant Marketing Manager in the Academic/Trade Division, working on Economics, Business, and Finance titles. I’ve been at OUP since September 2012.

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

Melanie:   I work on marketing each title through conferences, social media, and review lists, and some titles receive more detailed attention than others depending on the profile. I serve as the primary marketing point of contact for authors when they’re in need of materials for events, etc, and I also liase with several departments both in the NY and UK office.

Prof. Denning:  Were you working before Oxford University Press?

Melanie:   I received extensive publishing experience at my last job with Vanguard Press (now defunct), where I was serving in a role that covered everything from editorial to marketing to publicity. It was like publishing boot camp!

Prof. 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.

Prof 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 team work, and working in such an expansive company has been a great way to improve my skills at working with lots of different people.

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

Melanie:   I feel the Publishing program at Pace juxtaposed nicely to my in-office, on-the-fly learning experience. It really allowed me to slow down and examine the publishing business as a whole. I think it’s really easy to get caught in the day-to-day in publishing, so the program offered insight into different areas of the business I maybe hadn’t encountered yet, but also allowed me to look at how my daily tasks impact the business overall.

Prof. 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?

Melanie: I wrote about independent bookstores and what innovative steps some of the top performing ones are taking to survive in the marketing. I think the value is really delving into an area of publishing that you really wouldn’t normally be able to do during your everyday work, particularly when if it’s something you’re interested in learning about but don’t necessarily work with directly. I also think there is general value in the discipline it takes to work on this project for so many months, which is potentially something students will have to do in their jobs.

Prof. Denning:  Are you involved in the MS in Publishing program in any way today?  (advisory board, guest lecturer, etc.)

Melanie:  Yes, I am currently working with Professor Soares in her Graduate Seminar course to help facilitate Blackboard discussions, and I also am currently the only graduate of the Pace Publishing program to sit on the advisory board. I’ve also spoken to Professor Soares’ General Interest Books class and hope to do so again.

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 is the Editorial Assistant at Oxford University Press.  She graduated from the MS in Publishing program in 2011 and received her Bachelors of Arts in English and Creative Writing, with honors, from Southern Connecticut University.  She worked with the New Haven Review as an Assistant Editor for five years, and interned in the Editorial Department of St Martin’s Press and in Product Development at Scholastic.

 

Prof. Denning:  What is your job title at Oxford University Press, and how long have you been working there?

Brianna:  My current position at Oxford, since June 11, 2012, is an Editorial Assistant for Social Work, under Senior Editor, Dana Bliss.

Prof. 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.

Prof. Denning: Were you an intern at Oxford University Press before you became a full-time employee?  If not, did you have previous publishing experience?

Brianna:  I was not an intern at Oxford; however, I had interned with Scholastic and Thomas Dunne Books, a division of Saint Martin’s Press.  I also worked with the New Haven Review under the publisher, Bennett Lovett-Graff for a five year stretch.

Prof. 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?

Brianna:  Be ready for anything at any time.  It’s publishing, you might come in one day and everyone in the office is wearing rooster costumes.  Be ready for that.  Be change-adaptive, innovative, grow a few more arms, listen, and communicate.

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

Brianna: As long as you’re not drinking the office coffee, you’ll survive here for life! Seriously, considering the workload and multi-tasking requirements, the environment is relaxed and my manager understands that I am limited to only two arms. A lot of prioritizing, project managing, and adapting occurs on a daily basis; as long as you are ‘on your mettle’, so to speak, you will fit in at Oxford.

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

Brianna:  By the time I completed my undergraduate studies, I was armed with a buttressed editorial and writing background; but lucky for me, graduation was timed perfectly with the U.S. Economic Crisis.  So, I combined this armor with the only other talent I had: about three-million hours’ worth of film-watching, and I did a lot of freelance film-reviewing.  Realizing a year had passed and I was mostly just freelancing, I decided not to join what the NY Times likes to refer to as my “go-nowhere” generation, so my resolve was going back to school, and I entered the Master of Science program at Pace during that early-20s, post-college, what-do-I-do-now, period of my life.  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.

Prof. 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?

Brianna:  I wrote my graduate thesis during the cusp of the digital revolution, which a lot of the world thought would be the print apocalypse; so my thesis focused on digital aspects of publishing, and the ways the industry already used digital entities, and the ways publishing would be transforming to digital. I weighed out the pros/cons in several countenances, including environmental effects, and the effects on children, and more.  Writing my thesis and just writing in general, is an amazing way to become an expert on a topic.  Through months of slumping over books at the library and surfing through the infinite amount of information on the internet, I ended up learning so much about the topic—and coming away knowing more information than I could even fit into my thesis.

Reading and writing are equally very important – they come second to breathing. This is how we learn, and how we share what we know, and how you grow to become a competent member of society.  You represent yourself to the world through communication; how you write is how you tell the rest of the world who you are, and reading strengthens your writing—and I am grateful that I am able to have a career that utilizes both of these skills every day.  Honestly, even the mornings when I’d rather throw my alarm against the wall than come to work, I still come because I love my job.  It might sound so unwarrantedly sentimental, but it’s really a great feeling to have a job where you care about the work you do and the outcome you, or your product, has on someone—and when you are writing a book, or publishing a book, and sending out new information into the world, you are helping to educate someone—and an educated person can truly make the world a better place.

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

Brianna:  Not officially but  I do try to attend the lectures when I can.  The speakers are always topical and even though I only got my Masters in 2011, so much has changed even since then.  It helps to attend as many events outside of work as I can to stay on top of the current industry events.

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 is an Editorial Intern at Oxford University Press and began her graduate studies at Pace in the fall of 2012.  She received her undergraduate education in English and Japanese at the University at Albany. She will be graduating from the Pace program in December, and is excited to start her career in the publishing industry.

 

Prof. Denning:  What is your internship title at Oxford University Press, and how long have you been working there?

Maria:  My internship title is Editorial Intern, and I work for the AmELT (American English Language Teaching) team. I have been working at OUP for since the first week of June and am staying on for the fall semester.

Prof. Denning:  Please describe a bit about what your internship entails.

Maria:  I do a lot of different tasks at my internship, including doing research. One example of a research project I had was to find scholarly articles from educational journals that provided relevant information on a language learning skill that is highlighted in a new textbook that OUP AmELT is working on. I compiled a list of resources, and wrote a summary of the main points in those articles. I also worked with an author to research frequently used vocabulary words in the TOEFL test. Most of my day is spent on checking the Learning Management System (LMS) that accompany many of the textbooks. I make sure that the online component is working correctly, and log errors if there are any. That means I go through the online courses as if I were a student, checking the content as well as the functionality. I also had a chance to draft a script for a video they are shooting for one of the textbook series, which was a lot of fun!

Prof. Denning:  Do you have previous publishing experience?

Maria:  Yes, I worked as an Editorial Intern for Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group  for the imprints Roaring Brook Press and First Second Books for the 2012-2013 academic year.

Prof. Denning:  What advice would you give to a Pace student hoping to attain an internship in book or magazine publishing? What advice would you offer someone who is interested interning at Oxford?

Maria:  One piece of advice I would give is to talk to your professors and peers that may know of openings that may not be posted to the public yet. I learned about the OUP internship from the Pace Publishing blog, so I would also advise students to check that frequently. It not only posts interesting activities related to publishing in the city, but also posts great job/internship opportunities. I also recommend spending time on the cover letters that you send out; don’t just change the company name and title of the position you’re applying for. Make the cover letter personal, and also relevant to the position you’re applying for.

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

Maria:  OUP has one of the friendliest and most comfortable work environments I’ve ever experienced. Everyone is so welcoming and inclusive. Most people knew my name within the first week; I wasn’t just “the editorial intern.” I also take part in many of the meetings, which really makes me feel a part of the team. Something else I have felt within my department at OUP is that everybody is dedicated to their jobs. They sincerely care about what they do, and it shows.

Prof. 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 firsthand 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:  Anything else or any advice you would like to give to current students and alumni?

Maria: As I touched on a bit before, I would take advantage of the resources that are available at Pace, including professors and fellow students. I think it’s important to create relationships with the people in the program because these are people that you may (and probably will) encounter in the workplace in the future.
Prof. 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.

 

Thank you ladies for your insightful and informative interviews!


One Response to “Alumni in the Spotlight: September 2013”

  1. Nikki Tucker says:

    This was a great and informative post for students who are currently in the M.S. Publishing program. I love the quote “build it before you need it.” Just last week I was updating my Linkedin profile and sent out requests for individuals, who know me, to post a recommendation. I guess I am on the right track to try and optimize my profile for my audience. Oxford seems like a pretty great and intense place to work, learn and grow.