blogging gobbledygook and such

My First Week At Work

So it’s supposed to be normal that I found my first day at work terrifically confusing and not fun at all. And I do admit, now that I’m one week into work, fuzzy things are beginning to look clearer to me, though I still have so much to learn…

The company I work for is a small one. At least, the office where I work is. They have branches in other states, but this is supposed to be the main one. I’m not sure how many people work in the office, but I know everybody in the editorial department. They are all females. I also know some of the administrative staff. They are all also females. I really have a knack for staying in an all-female environment, huh? Even though I studied in co-ed schools, my good friends were all girls. When I did part-time jobs, my colleagues & bosses were females too (bookshop, boutique selling leather handbags and shoes for ladies, jewellery kiosk, boutique selling luxury qi pao, telemarketing). When I read English in college, most of my classmates are girls too. If you still know me when I’m 50 and I’m still unattached, here’s your answer 30 years before that! (Nope, don’t have any male friends outside of school or work, except Durian, but he doesn’t count, we hardly ever meet.)

Okay, digression over. My bosses are male and scary to me. Not because they are male, but because they are bosses. My immediate superiors are females. They were the ones who interviewed me, so you might say I feel most connected to them. My colleagues… they are nice (one of them is also a fresh graduate in my college, she started work two months before me), they let me join them for lunch, but… they speak Chinese. They do speak English, but it’s their lunch break, and their mother tongue, so Chinese is the lingua franca in the conference room (where we have our lunch after buying it from the food court outside the office, 5 minutes’ drive away). I can understand Cantonese, but with Chinese you might as well speak German. So whenever I join them for breakfast or lunch, I will either be reading my book or the newspaper. Which makes it really meaningless to try to fit in for fitting in’s sake, isn’t it? This isn’t high school! There are other colleagues, but I don’t know them yet so I can hardly ask if I can join them for lunch, with my renowned conversational skills.

My job is basically trying to achieve the impossible. Well, impossible because I’m not skilled in it. I have to make sure there are no mistakes whatsoever in the books I edit. Which are English books, of course, given that I read English at college. I edit reference books for school students. They aren’t textbooks, but they are used to complement the school syllabus on the students’ own initiative, whether for tuition classes or for self-study. Some teachers use them in classes too as workbooks. I’m in charge of a series of 5 practice books which should be due out in the middle of next year. I haven’t even edited a whole proper book on my own and they put me in charge of a whole series…

So these are my first set of books I will edit. The whole process takes almost a year from now. Which means I would think I’m officially ‘experienced’ once my first set of books are out in the market because I would’ve gone through the whole entire process by then. My probation period is for 6 months. I’m encouraged to make as much mistakes as I can in probation period because I wouldn’t be encouraged once I’m a confirmed staff. But if I would be confirmed in February and my first set of books are only due out in the middle of next year… I wouldn’t be totally capable on my own, would I? This feels like a lose-lose situation to me. I want to be confirmed as quickly as possible (for I may have a chance of a salary increment) but I need more time to be fully independent.

My job, besides trying to achieve the impossible, is to liaise with writers, artists and typesetters to make sure the book comes out nice and perfect. I have to watch out for mistakes by at least 3 parties. I decide the font, the layout. I use the dictionary a whole damn freaking lot to make sure timetable does not have a hyphen in between as typed by the writer in a manuscript. It’s not enough that I know, I’ve got to make sure it’s in the dictionary. I’m basically in charge of everything that goes into a book. Which in theory sounds quite appealing, but it’s not when you don’t even know what to do… I mean, the premise of being in charge is that you would actually know what to do.

I want to talk some more about work, but this post is a bit longer than I expected and I’m bored of it. It’s the weekend, no talk about work! Unless you leave a comment, that is. πŸ˜› We can talk work the whole day, haha!

(Now you know why I’m moaning so much about my work, huh? I mean, it’s about as dry as sawdust, editing schoolbooks… Anna Wintour has glamourised the editor occupation too much!)

Comments on: "My First Week At Work" (12)

  1. Sounds like a great job. That’s something that I’d like to do. I’ll probably look into that when I’m getting ready to go back home. But I still have a while on my current contract (10 months).

    sulz: really?? i thought i’d like to do it too, but it’s not appealing to me right now, maybe because i’m not good at it… i’ve always wanted to teach, on the contrary!

  2. lovelyloey said:

    Hey, if you need a quick reference offline PC dictionary, try Wordweb (google Wordweb). I love this shit. I survived my part-time stint, and countless assignments with this dictionary.

    Anyway, we all have to learn on the job. I’m sure when you’re finally done with something the immense sense of satisfaction will overshadow all the struggles.

    sulz: oh, i totally forgot to mention that i don’t even have my own computer at my desk. we have two general computers shared by 6 editors. πŸ‘Ώ

    let’s see how satisfying it is to see books i’ve edited in the bookshop, with nary my name in it!

  3. I haven’t even edited a whole proper book on my own and they put me in charge of a whole series…

    Wow sounds like a lot of work and a challenge. Good luck with your new job.

    Thanks for visiting my blog at

    sulz: yes, it does, doesn’t it? my superior will guide me, of course, but technically i’m still in charge, which is not good for a newbie! thanks, and likewise! πŸ™‚

  4. Its considered rude when you are in a group and you talk in a language which everyone don’t understand. Last month, a few British clients visited my company for some presentations and I was horrified to see some of my collegues talking in Hindi(India’s national language) in front of them. In the break I told them never to do that again.
    Same thing happened when I was in Chennai. The language spoken there is Tamil which I don’t understand. I always used to stop people and asked them to talk in English. I guess, you must also say that. Try to be funny when you say that.

    And don’t you edit fiction novels?

    sulz: well, i’m the junior, the newbie, i don’t think they’d appreciate that even if i tried to be funny about it (which i’d probably fail because they have a different kind of sense of humour and will probably misinterpret my attempt!). they’ve obviously done this long before i came, in a way it’s not fair that they speak in a language they’re not as comfortable with just to include me.

    nope, my company publishes mostly educational books. 😦 i’d love to edit a novel, just to experience the difference!

  5. Your new job sounds really difficult! At least the environment you’re working in sounds nice enough.

    I thought Cantonese was a kind of Chinese, but I’m probably just showing my ignorance. 0_0; You’d think people would have the manners to use a language understood by everyone present; as it is they’re alienating you, which isn’t fair at all.

    sulz: it doesn’t just sound, it is! and it’s not even like they go about demonstrating for me, or let me assist an editor in the editorial process so that i know how it’s done. they just tell me how to do it, and then i’m left to figure out most parts, before they point out my mistake after handing in my work. 😐

    cantonese is a dialect (there isn’t a writing system in cantonese, they read chinese words with cantonese, just as you would with the chinese language, which is mandarin). well, i’m the newbie, can understand why. they tried the first day, speaking mostly in english and including me in their conversation. the rest of the week they slipped back to their old routine. if they don’t mind me hanging around, i don’t mind being ignored really.

  6. sounds like… sasbadi πŸ˜›

    haha… i experienced the same thing too. i just excuse myself and say i got extra work in the ofis. it works. *thumbs up*

    sulz: haha, it’s not sasbadi. and it won’t work in my case because my superiors are part of this little clique, so they know exactly what i have to do or not. so they’ll wave away that excuse anyway.

  7. Are you sure you’d find it that difficult to pick up Mandarin? I’d think it would be easy for someone with your skill set; just say all the words through your nose instead of your mouth!

    And what’s qi pao?

    sulz: haha! mandarin is quite different than cantonese, though some words are similar.

    qi pao is that gorgeous chinese traditional dress with the mandarin collar and frog buttons and hugs all a woman’s right curves. covered yet provocative. πŸ˜‰

  8. Wow!!! an editor’s job really is tough. I had no idea it would so difficult. Its sad to hear about the language problem. Which language do u speak? Dont worry dear u will get the hang of it soon and i’m sure will excel at ur job.

    sulz: believe me, i had no idea at all. maybe it will be easy once it’s routine? i speak english, malay and a bit of cantonese. i hope so… πŸ™‚

  9. Wanna exchange jobs! I’ve always wanted to do what u do! πŸ˜€
    I’m a publicist, so the money’s good! Think about it! πŸ˜€

    sulz: haha, i wouldn’t mind giving your job a go, but aren’t jobs with good money require you to sell some part of your soul? πŸ˜›

  10. Wow, we really are mom and son in here. We wrote about our first day’s on the same day and we made a post about our first week on the same day as well! That’s, er, spooky.

    I have language issues at college too. Everybody speaks Punjabi, which is the language of the state but I’m more comfortable with either Hindi or English. Sadly nobody speaks that so I’ve been trying to work on my Punjabi now. Maybe, one day I’ll talk as fluently as they do.

    So now you’re editing course books. What subjects exactly? I mean it must be tough if you have to edit Physics and you’re not in the least interested in it. I mean, it’s not only English, is it? It’s got symbols and formula’s too. You have to correct those as well?

    sulz: and i believe our first day at work and college is on the same day too! at least you have a head start in punjabi; my mandarin is virtually nonexistent. but i’m sure you can do it! πŸ™‚

    i only edit english (the subject) books, thankfully! it’s the easiest sort to edit too, apparently. not that it is for me, since i’m still new.

  11. You work as a editor in a publishing house. Its a great job! Even if you don’t plan to make a career in it, try to learn all its ropes. Be patient. This is one virtue that will help you sail through difficult career situations. πŸ™‚

    sulz: how’d you know? πŸ˜‰ i feel very restless at the job… hah, i’m sorry to say that patience has never been my virtue. i’m one of the most impatient people i know! it has cost me money and relationships.

  12. […] is piling on. If you noticed, I haven’t really talked about work since the last one about my first week at work. That’s because I realised that it’s not very ethical to be talking about work. The […]

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