Oxford University Press FAQ

All answers shown come directly from Oxford University Press Reviews and are not edited or altered.

40 English questions out of 40

12 September 2018

What is health insurance like at Oxford University Press?

Pros

Good dynamics between staff members, attractive healthcare package

Cons

Old, worn-out building and amenities, caustic and dismissive HR processes, poor communication of mission and objectives, and a creeping sense of moving the goalposts with regards to bonuses and promotion

Advice to Management

Stop assuming that staff posted on a temporary basis are any less deserving of merit than career members; if (as in my case) a number of significant achievements had been made in revenue and turnover as a direct result of my efforts, then to simply lock my e-mail and cancel my swipe card without a single word of thanks or recognition for those efforts speaks volumes about the callous attitude that management and HR seem to hold for non-permanent members of staff. How much goodwill can OUP seek to lose before they run out altogether? Having enjoyed my time at OUP the sensation of being vindictively disposed of was almost beyond belief, and I have received no retrospective communication explaining why this happened.

Good dynamics between staff members, attractive healthcare package

12 September 2018

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14 August 2018

Does Oxford University Press pay for a gym membership?

Pros

The work-life balance The kind colleagues The gym and cafeteria

Cons

A typical 'charity' so the business pace is low and if you are used to commercial multinationals, it sometimes require extra patience.

Advice to Management

Give more decision power to the managers in order to speed up the processes

The gym and cafeteria

14 August 2018

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3 February 2020

Does Oxford University Press offer sponsored degrees?

Pros

It can be a casual environment, especially if your manager is remote. Network/Friends - People are under so much stress, that you can bond really closely. A lot of people move to NY, and you’ll feel like you made friends fast. Then when your friends leave OUP, you now have a great network. We help each other get out, and it’s very common for former OUP employees to continue working together at other companies. Honestly this was my strategy coming in, and it worked. But it doesn’t work for everyone. *caveat: turnover is so high that some people don’t bother getting to know the new assistants. They’ll be gone in 6-11 months, and it’s exhausting. The Oxford brand - it sounds impressive on your resume, especially if you want to work at a smaller academic press or in education. If you want to work in publishing, there can be barriers transitioning from academic/higher ed to trade books. In those cases, people usually take an assistant level job at a different publisher (often a step down if they’ve been promoted at OUP), but some end up really happy at their subsequent company. Publishing knows how crappy OUP is, and they know people at OUP know how to work hard. In Summer 2019, a few of the most infamous sexual harassers/managers were let go (which in itself was a miracle because assistants had been reporting them for 20 years). It’s a weird culture because it feels like almost all of of the assistants are young women and almost all of the editors/managers are middle aged men. Although there are women in middle management, the men hold the authority. Some people like it at OUP. If you figure out how to emotionally detach, compartmentalize, and protect your personal time, you’ll be fine. Bagel Friday - although they’ve been cutting back on this recently to save money, which is concerning. Brown bananas aren’t healthy, they’re just cheap. They never got enough bagels in the first place - they’re gone by 9:15. Work somewhere else, and afford your own bagels.

Cons

Salary is unlivable in NYC. No one can do it without support from their parents or spouse, or a second job. This makes diversity impossible. Terrible health care. They’ll say they have tuition reimbursement, but they won’t give it to you. Layoffs - you might be next. The 60 people laid off this week have more time to pack their things, but usually people are forced out in the same work day that they get the news. Then their work is dumped on people who are kept. Hiring freezes - turnover is high, people leave all the time. And spanning months, the company has hiring freezes, where they refused to fill these empty positions. Their workload gets dumped on the remaining team. Everyone at OUP is juggling 2 full time workloads, at a minimum. Even when there’s not a hiring freeze, they’re EXTREMELY slow to hire mid and upper level positions. It’s 8-12 months of an assistant doing the work of their former manager or director, with no compensation in title or salary. I’ve heard sometimes they’ll give one $500 bonus, which after tax, isn’t nearly proportional to the workload. An assistant’s experience is entirely dictated by their manager. A few managers are wonderful, but they don’t tend to stick around long because they’re actually capable of getting out. Often they are forced out because they know they’re overworked and doing a good job, so they’ll ask for a raise/promotion, and they won’t get it. Then they leave, and the assistant is stuck doing both jobs. The bad managers get stuck there, and for some bizarre reason upper management seems hell bent on keeping the worst offenders. Experiences can vary, but expect to be yelled at, belittled, and thrown under the bus. No one is taught how to do anything, and then you get yelled at when the work lacks very ridged specifications. Less common: harassment. Most situations toe that line of “is this worth reporting?” and then “will there be repercussions if I do report?”. In the past, reporting assistants had been fired or shuffled to a different manager with nothing happening to the offending manager. Recently that’s been changing (see the pro for more details), but you will need multiple witnesses. I think the most common issue is general nastiness and incompetence at the mid/upper-level. Performance plans - less common, used as a tool to set impossible standards for a single employee, and then fire that person when these “expectations” aren’t met, after a boss has decided he doesn’t like the employee. I’ve seen this happen to both assistants and managers. Frustrating that they kept people who are much less competent than the employees they fired. Depending on the department, it can feel nearly impossible to get promoted. More commonly, people get promoted once and then it’s nearly impossible to get promoted a second time. On the flip side, I know 3 people who turned down promotions because of workload concerns and dealing with big personalities. The Diversity Committee is straight white women, who are upset with the straight white men who run the company (justifiably). Then nothing happens because of the limitations set on the committee by the straight white men. They do not care. This sounds obvious, but people have walked into HR sobbing, and they won’t acknowledge the issue or follow up.

Advice to Management

ADVICE TO APPLICANTS - Ask the hiring manager why the previous person in your role left the company. Ask how long they worked at OUP. Ask if they got promoted. If you don’t feel comfortable doing this in a interview, you can ask after you get a job offer but before you accept the position. Management - rethink your business model of having to retrain new assistants every 6 months. It’s exhausting. I know it’s cheaper than giving someone a raise, but think about the quality of work. Also, HR should actually take notes during exit interviews, and then do something with that information to improve the company. If you’re sick of hearing people complain about the same problems, then do something about it! Don’t comment below that I should email you. Help employees when they walk into your office.

They’ll say they have tuition reimbursement, but they won’t give it to you.

3 February 2020

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29 September 2020

What is the retirement plan like at Oxford University Press?

Pros

Prestigious company on resume and you meet interesting and smart people who work there. Many of my close friends were ones I met through work. Most of the assistants are fresh out of college and so all roughly the same age with similar life experiences. Lots of happy hours, birthday parties, etc. Other benefits are that the head of OUP USA does make himself available to anyone in the organization no matter their role, from intern to C-level. And the retirement account options are decent (with matching), but that's only a benefit if you can live on your take-home pay after contributing. I knew others that were so strapped for cash that they couldn't even contribute 1-2% to their own accounts, because they needed every bit of their miniscule take-home pay. I wasn't able to save much from my take-home salary but was at least able to start a retirement account with a decent chunk when I left. Better than nothing. Others who were from the Tri-state area and lived and home and commuted in might have been able to live on the salary, but many of us moved from several states away and had no choice but to pay for housing.

Cons

Very low pay, low morale, and high turnover. No training other than learn as you go/trial and error. They've recently raised the salaries from what I've heard but when I started in 2015 it was a non-negotiable $30k (and two weeks vacation, which management admitted was abysmal) for editorial assistants which is impossible to live on in NYC. Others a few years before me started at $28,500. In 2015 with a college (and sometimes graduate) degree. These were people who went to Ivy League schools with perfect GPAs. Maybe we're all suckers for accepting being paid that little. It's honestly shameful. But it's the reputation and prestige of the company that draws people in. It took YEARS to make even a few thousand more. As soon as I left OUP for a new job (also in the nonprofit publishing world, hmm) my salary doubled and my workload decreased. I couldn't believe I didn't leave sooner. Extremely limited promotion options were also why I left. If the only avenue for significant salary increases are tied to job title then you're better off leaving the organization to be paid more. I don't regret it as a good first job despite these cons, but I was grateful to leave when I did after a few years of paying my dues. Lack of overtime: I know people who worked for demanding editors and routinely stayed until 9 or 10 at night and never received a dime of overtime, even though legally, their salary was under the threshold that entitled them to overtime compensation. Editors were resistant to approve OT even though time and time again, HR and upper management told them to pay OT if their assistants stayed past 5. I don't know what the current status of OT is, but this was my experience a few years ago.

Advice to Management

PAY YOUR ASSISTANTS. I know what you pay your higher-ups and you can afford it. As a nonprofit, your tax returns are publicly available online. It's public knowledge what your CEO and 20 highest-paid executives are paid, by the way. Disgruntled assistants will find this, and will want to unionize. And even what you pay employees a few rungs up from the assistant level is livable, compared to what you pay EAs and AEs. So please please please find a way to improve your pay and treat your assistants better. I also know what others in the publishing industry are paid, and while it is a notoriously low-paying industry, OUP pays lower than it's competitors. Don't doubt it for a second.

And the retirement account options are decent (with matching), but that's only a benefit if you can live on your take

29 September 2020

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17 June 2019

Does Oxford University Press have a pension plan?

Pros

Decent pay, lots of holidays. Good pension.

Cons

Dead end job. work in decline. no chance of advancement. no overtime pay. Difficult to see much of a future.

Good pension.

17 June 2019

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40 English questions out of 40