“I was pleasantly surprised at how welcoming and inviting everyone was for each step of the process.”
I applied for the summer internship at Penguin the day before applications closed. There were nine positions available and they all looked so interesting, I thought even getting an interview would be a long shot, hence why I’d put off applying.
I’ve grown up reading Penguin books – and as a brand, it’s been a steady constant that’s followed me from reading my first books, to finding some of my favourites in university.
I was over the moon when I found out I’d made it through to the next stage of the application process, if not also a little terrified! I was pleasantly surprised at how welcoming and inviting everyone was for each step of the process. Everything was far less stressful than I’d anticipated.
“It was exciting being a part of a real project and watching ideas come to life.”
My internship was based in the Digital Product team. It wasn’t the kind of role that I had heard too much about before, but I really liked the sound of the project description – and was right in thinking that something unexpected would be a good fit for me.
I spent eight weeks helping to update some real life Penguin websites (The Happy Foodie and Ottolenghi cookbooks) and was also able to get involved with lots of other interesting projects throughout the company. It was exciting being a part of a real project and watching ideas come to life.
“If you’re thinking of applying for an internship at Penguin, I couldn’t encourage you more to give it a go.”
I had known that I wanted to be involved in something to do with books, preferably publishing, from quite a young age. Getting the chance to see a publisher like Penguin from the inside was an invaluable experience in this regard. It opened my eyes to career avenues that I’d never even considered (or knew existed!) and gave me the opportunity to connect with people in those roles.
If you’re thinking of applying for an internship at Penguin, I couldn’t encourage you more to give it a go. Even if you feel apprehensive about the application process or are not sure what you want to do long-term, put in an application and see where it takes you.
“I can sit here with confidence and say that I understand how a book is made, and how important every single role is “
Typing away on my laptop, thinking earnestly about the past 38 days, my thoughts drift back to my first week.
I was bubbling to the brim with nerves and excitement. I think about when I met my managers over Microsoft Teams and they welcomed me into Cornerstone and Del Rey, the two teams I would be working with over the summer. They told me about my projects and put me at ease with their kind words and friendliness, and I remember feeling my nerves slowly drift away.
My thoughts go back to when I attended my first meetings – experiencing publishing first-hand, for the first time. I soon found myself with the knowledge of what an ‘acquisition’ was, and how great ideas are turned into physical pages. I found myself seeing how front covers are chosen from dozens of beautiful images, how crime books are positioned in the market, and how the amazing campaigns behind different romance books were made.
I think back to how I virtually crossed paths with people from different teams; Editorial, Design, Sales, Rights, Publicity – and of course, my own team, Marketing.
I remember how willing everyone was to spend time to explain things, especially when I recall how publishing was an entire world unknown to me. And, as I type these words, I can sit here with confidence and say that I understand how a book is made, and how important every single role is here at Penguin, no matter what department you work in!
My mind drifts back to the various projects I’ve completed during my time at Penguin. Assisting in managing the Del Rey UK Instagram from day to day was full of fun, as I created posts for the feed. I was working on creating social media adverts for romance novels that will be used on Facebook. I was contributing to the division’s Christmas campaign planning with my own ideas of how to make it more exciting and festive. There was so much to get involved in, from adverts to creating resource packs for retailers. My time here almost feels like a blur. But as I sit here and type wistfully, I’m glad I dove in to all that was to offer.
In diving in, I was surprised by how easily I slipped into the rhythm of things. If I were to paint a picture of my time at Penguin, I have no doubt in my mind that the colours on the canvas would be as vivid and as lively as the people that work here. The company is full of friendly faces, who are patient and willing to teach. All so incredibly welcoming – to the point where it felt like home.
In a type of job as diverse as publishing, something new was bound to happen every day. As I’m typing this, I realise that I’ll miss the weekly catch ups with my managers, where we spoke about anything and everything. I’ll miss the friends I made in the other interns, who were lovely and willing to share their similar experiences. Lastly, I’ll miss logging on every morning, excited to start the day and complete my projects.
Some of you may be hesitant to apply. Your fingers hover over the keyboard and you’re reluctant to click ‘submit’. You’ve never even considered a career in publishing.
But don’t hesitate. My advice to you is just do it! You’ll be surprised how much you’ll learn about yourself in the process and how much you can accomplish in a company like Penguin.
Hi all. My name is Chadia Aliberti, and I was the summer intern for the Non-Trade Sales team.
My host team
The Non-Trade Sales team works to bring books into a wide range of non-traditional retailers, like Urban Outfitters and B&M, and carries out brand partnerships. For example, they conducted an amazing partnership with Vivienne Westwood and Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland; I’d highly encourage you to check out the bespoke cover made exclusively for the fashion brand.
I had the time of my life working with the Non-Trade team: being able to partake in the work they do was a dream come true!
The application process
The application process for the Summer Internship programme is very straightforward.
My process began with answering three questions. I was worried that you would need some expertise as I really didn’t know much about the publishing world before I applied. However, this was not the case. The application questions explore your skills, not your knowledge.
After that stage, we answered a few more questions in a video format online (these were just for the careers team to match us with a particular project).
Then came the interviews. To be honest, this was the part of the process I was most scared of. Luckily, my fears did not come true: the interviews were informal and easy-going, genuinely more like a chat! I had a great time and really enjoyed them. Advice-wise, just be yourself and show that you would be a great person to work with.
After a couple of weeks, I got the call, and on the 5th of July began as one of the 9 Summer Interns.
The beginning of my internship was exciting and a whirlwind of meeting new people, getting used to systems and learning publishing terminology (the world of publishing really does operate in its own language).
I then got to work on my projects, which varied massively from week to week. Some weeks I’d be pitching newly published books to different brands, making suggestions as to how they could create a new exclusive book cover, and then use it to promote things like customer loyalty, or to drive-up sales of a particular product. I especially loved doing this as I enjoyed the creativity and innovation needed to come up with new ideas for each partnership.
I also got the opportunity to choose books for book subscription boxes, create presentations on upcoming trends to send to existing and potential accounts, and compile materials to be sent to the whole of Penguin Random House on things the non-trade team got up to (for example store visits) and upcoming key titles.
I loved all my projects, and through doing them had the invaluable realisation that publishing is the career path for me!
Other highlights included going into the office, chatting with co-workers, and receiving lots of exciting emails each day on things like new acquisitions, marketing campaigns and upcoming releases.
Going to the office was nothing short of amazing. The entrance staircase filled with books, where you can get a free copy of Penguin’s ‘Book of the Month’, is remarkable, and the view from my desk was one of the best I’ve seen in London. I really enjoyed working at my desk whilst sipping coffee and enjoying a great view of Battersea. Meeting my colleagues in person was also great, and I am so lucky to say that I leave this experience with friends.
What I learnt
The first thing I learnt throughout my internship is the power of communication within a publishing house. Books come to life and get put onto shelves and into hands mainly through the communication between all the different divisions: editorial, production, marketing, publicity, and sales amongst many others (I’m not exaggerating, there really are so many divisions!).
I would really recommend to any future interns to have chats with people across every division and in each different imprint, so that you can understand how they all work together and how imprints differ from each other.
Another thing I’ve learnt is to not be afraid to ask for help, as people will always be happy to answer any queries you have. Everyone at Penguin Random House really is kind, helpful, welcoming, and supportive.
After the internship
Overall, I’ve absolutely loved my time here and would highly encourage people to apply. It’s such a great program and I’ve felt supported by the HR team, my colleagues, and the other interns. In fact, I’ve loved it so much that I am staying on in the temporary role of Internal Communications Assistant, and I can’t wait for this new journey to begin.
Some final advice I’d give for next years interns is to make the most out of the two months, they fly by fast. Talk to as many people as you can, soak in as much information as you can, and most importantly, enjoy it!
“I was surprised by the vast number of different departments and tasks that needed to be completed before a book could be published.”
I’ve had a wonderful time working with the Editorial team at Penguin Random House Children’s this summer! I’ve primarily been working in the Puffin Picture Book team, helping to develop an audio project, but I’ve also had the opportunity to get involved with a wide range of other projects.
The audio project involved working with Eric Hill’s Spot series. I was engaged in a variety of editorial tasks such as proofreading manuscripts and checking audio files. I even got to sit in on audio recording sessions and hear the voice actors at work!
I also assisted the Editorial team by creating PowerPoint slides based on the previous year’s sales of Eric Carle books (the author of The Very Hungry Caterpillar) and used a central database with details of every title Penguin has ever published, to gather information. I helped check Meg and Mog plotters before they were sent to production and enjoyed reading new submissions before giving feedback in team meetings. Everyone was so friendly and interested to hear what I had to say!
As I was interested in the work done by Creative Responsibility, I helped them to collate a list of Penguin picture books by authors of colour. I loved completing this task as it was a great way to get acquainted with all the children’s books Penguin have published.
When I first started at Penguin, I was surprised by the vast number of different departments and tasks that needed to be completed before a book could be published. From Sales to Rights, Design to Production, every department must collaborate and work together to ensure Penguin can continue producing high-quality books.
“The advice I would give to someone thinking about applying is that they should go for it”
One of my favourite parts of the internship has been having the opportunity to speak to a wide range of people and to learn about their roles. Everyone I’ve met has been so passionate about the work that they do and more than happy to talk with me about it!
The advice I would give to someone thinking about applying is that they should go for it because getting real hands-on experience is the best way to learn more about publishing. The internship passes quickly so make sure you speak to as many people as possible! Try to find out which parts of publishing interest you the most then get in touch with someone who works in that area and ask if they are free for a chat.
I’m so grateful that I’ve had the opportunity to work for Penguin Random House this summer. I’ve learnt so much and it has been an absolute pleasure to work alongside such a talented, inspiring, and kind team.
Good luck to anyone thinking of applying, interning at Penguin really is a fantastic experience!
“Working at Penguin has always been a dream of mine and so to say I’ve had fun is an understatement. “
HI, I’m Aoifke, and this year I was one of the nine interns working at Penguin Random House on their summer internship scheme.
During the eight-week placement, I worked in the non-fiction division called Ebury in their communications team- specifically marketing for their BBC/Lifestyle and Self titles.
It’s super exciting and every day is different. Some titles that I’ve been working on include ‘Hill House Living’ by Hill House Vintage, Jon Sopel’s ‘UnPresidented’ paperback release, and ‘Jane’s Patisserie’ by Jane Dunn- to name a few. For these titles, I helped create A+ pages for Amazon, sorted influencer mailing lists, designed promotional content and joined discussions in acquisitions meetings where teams discussed whether or not we should publish a certain book, and looked at current trends in the Arts to inform our decision-making.
Working at Penguin has always been a dream of mine and so to say I’ve had fun is an understatement. Some highlights include a Communications brainstorm for Michaela Coel’s ‘Misfits’ (one of my idols!), researching cottage-core brands to acquire partnerships for a book’s release, and most excitedly- being sent lots of books to read through! Titles like Caitlin Moran’s ‘More Than a Woman’, Rachel Ama’s ‘Vegan Eats’ and more- not only are they fantastic works but they also help me understand marketing techniques and the publishing industry overall.
“I’ve really enjoyed the creative freedom and independence given- it made me feel really valued on the team!”
I’ve never worked in publishing before- my only experience is being Comms Officer of Society of Young Publishers’ North branch- nor have I worked in an office environment. I was really nervous to start but honestly, everybody is SO nice! Whilst it may seem intimidating- as this is the biggest publishing house in the world- the Ebury team have been so supportive and have guided me through the placement.
I was never afraid to ask for help or clarification and they were all so accommodating to my interests, making sure to prioritise certain titles that they thought might suit my passions. This really helped when it came to my project; for my placement I was assigned the task of creating an Influencer Strategy for Ebury. I researched current trends, the rise of Tiktok, and engagement on social media within different categories like lifestyle, cooking, parenting. I decided that my strategy should be to focus on mailing lists in compliance with GPDR- how we can reach out to agents with titles we think their clients would enjoy whilst being beneficial in the time spent on the marketing campaign overall. I’ve really enjoyed the creative freedom and independence given- it made me feel really valued on the team!
“Don’t be scared to apply as you will certainly regret not going for it”
I know it can seem daunting to apply for the internship, especially because of the amount of applicants, never mind the fact that it’s for such a great company! Don’t be scared to apply as you will certainly regret not going for it.
Make sure to research lots about the different departments within publishing- many people think they want to work in editorial but you might find that Communications, Sales or Rights are more for you. If you research that, you may find you prefer a different role in the industry- and so your passion will really shine through on your application. Most of all: be confident and keep trying! I almost didn’t apply as I was certain I’d never ever get accepted- but now here I am, genuinely sad about leaving and already researching vacancies for when I graduate next year.
Aoifke’s Twitter @keatslyre
Aofike’s Bookstagram @aoifkeswords
Are applications open?
Applications for 2021 are now closed.
What’s an internship like at Penguin Random House?
Watch our chat with Editorial Assistant Ellie, who shares her experience of interning in the Puffin Picture Books team:
How many internships are on offer?
There are 9 on offer, and they’re each working on different projects across a variety of departments. Read more about each here.
Do I get to choose which department I’ll work in?
We’ll get to know your preferences along the way. We’ll take your interests and skills into account and match our final 9 interns with the department they’re best suited with. This might not be where you’d first pictured yourself, but whichever department you’re matched with will give you transferrable skills that could be an important step in your future career.
Will I need to travel into your London offices?
Our internships this year are all remote, so you won’t be required to travel to London or come into our offices. While you’ll still meet our team, attend meetings and work on projects, you’ll be doing all of this virtually over the summer.
Do I need a degree to apply?
We removed our degree requirement in 2016. You don’t need to have studied at University, or have work experience in publishing to be eligible.
Is there an age limit for applicants?
Our applications are open to everyone over the age of 18.
Are you paying your interns?
Yes, they’ll be paid London Living Wage.
When will you let me know if I’ve got a spot?
Everyone will find out the outcome of their initial application on 14th April, and shortlisted finalists will know if they’re one of the 9 selected interns by 13th May. All the dates can be found here.
Is the internship full time?
The internship is full time, and you’ll be working Monday to Friday.
I don’t have a computer; can I do the internship?
Our IT team will courier all 9 of our interns a loan laptop to use for the 8 weeks.
They’ll be on hand remotely too, to make sure your tech is all set up, and throughout the internship.
What are you looking for in applicants?
Here’s our page all about applications to tell you more.
If you can’t see the answer to your question, you can get in touch with our careers team here.
You don’t need a degree (or knowledge of publishing) to get a place on one of our internships.
What matters to us are the key things we’ll be looking for throughout the selection process:
||Paying attention to the detail
You’ll have a forensic eye for detail, working with care and being able to spot and fix any errors you come across.
You’re always looking outward and are keen to learn. You enjoy exploring many viewpoints, and learning about new ideas and concepts.
||Ability to take initiative
You solve problems before they’ve even arisen. You don’t sit and wait for opportunities to come to you; you make things happen.
This involves everything from being able to write clear and engaging emails and reports to being comfortable talking to a range of people, whether that’s team members, industry contacts or members of the public.
You thrive on keeping things on track, whether for yourself or other people, taking a methodical approach to any task.
||Making the work you do count
A genuine interest in what you’re doing and approaching it with a great attitude.
Preparing your application
There’s no need for CVs or cover letters, when you apply, you’ll answer three questions in 250 words or less.
To help you think about and plan your answers, here’s what we’ll be asking:
Question one is all about communication
Whether it’s getting other people excited about something, or helping someone to understand your point of view – building relationships is useful in any job.
Tell us about a time when you’ve built a relationship, and used your communication skills to solve a problem. How did you build the relationship to reach a solution? What was the outcome?
Question two is your opportunity to show us how you take initiative
Tell us about a time when you had an idea, and took the initiative to turn it into a reality. What steps did you take? What was the end result?
We’re looking for demonstration of initiative in your example. This might be when you’ve made something happen, or been proactive and solved a challenge before being asked.
Question three is where you’ll tell us about your curiosity
If you could start a conversation with a subject matter expert on something that you’re curious about, what would it be about? Why does it interest you? What makes you want to find out more about it?
This might be anything. For example – cultural moments, social media trends or current affairs.
Applications closed on Thursday 1st April.
If you’ve got more questions, head to our FAQs.
JobHack went virtual this year with talks from a wide array of different departments and on topics from the Publishing Process and How to Ace your CV and Interview.
Colleagues shared their career journey, insights into their role and answered questions from attendees. The videos from JobHack will be shared over the next few weeks.
Lots of brilliant, practical and curious questions were asked during JobHack and unfortunately there wasn’t time to get to them all. So, we’re going to cover as many of the frequently asked questions as we can in a short series of blogs.
Here’s the first one, answering some of the questions from the How to Ace your CV and Interview talk.
1. Would [XXXXXX work experience/qualification] strengthen my application?
This was a common question at JobHack, and unfortunately there’s no one experience, qualification or job that’s the secret to landing your first role.
It’s much more about the skills, potential and behaviours you bring – no matter where you developed them.
2. Should we be at all creative with our CV or should it remain completely formal?
Often simplicity is best – the impact of an easy to read, well formatted CV shouldn’t be underestimated.
The only exception to this might be if you’re going for a role in Design, where this could be another way to demonstrate your skills.
3. What kind of tone should a cover letter have? Is there a way to get across your personality (or even your writing style, which may be an important skill, depending on the role), whilst also making it professional? What’s the balance between friendly and formal?
This is partly down to personal preference, but we recommend matching the tone of the job advert. That will be a good guide to how formal or informal your cover letter should be.
4. If you accept one position and then get accepted for your dream position, what is the etiquette?
It’s unfortunate, but it does happen – especially if you’re applying for multiple roles at once.
Take a moment to weigh up the options. Is this really your dream role? How does it compare to the other?
If it is, let the hiring manager know as soon and as politely as you can so they can contact the other candidates. It might be helpful to share a bit of your reasoning for why you’re going for the other role.
5. If a job application asks you to write 300 words about a marketing campaign/a book you’d recommend in your cover letter, is it okay to go over a page? And should you add it into your letter or have it as an appendix?
Yes, include it as part of your cover letter if that’s what the job advert has asked for and remember to keep within the word limit.
There’s no need to include an appendix – only the CV (maximum 2 pages) and cover letter (maximum 1 page, with some leeway if there’s a task involved).
Part of a cover letter’s job is to show you can communicate effectively and concisely. Your hiring manager may have a lot of these to read and consider, so be kind to them! Two pages of densely packed, font size 6 text with no margins will mean the key parts of your experience will be hard to pick out and hard to read.
Remember – you want to make it as easy as possible for the person reading your CV and cover letter to know you’re the right person for the job.
6. What advice would you give to somebody trying to get into publishing?
One – be curious and research. There are many different kinds of creative careers in publishing, so look into what might be the right one for you and get to know the kinds of books different publishers work on. It could make the difference between a well thought out, tailored application and one that needs a bit more work.
Two – be resilient. This doesn’t just count in publishing, but applying for jobs across many industries. There’s always more than one person going for a job opening, so it may take a few applications, learning and tweaking as you go, until you get to interview and your dream role. Lots of companies look for people who are curious, willing to learn and adapt, so think about how you can keep learning and developing your abilities – it’ll help you not just in your applications, but when you start your job.
7. What is your advice on sending an email after the interview with a thank you and adding anything you may have forgotten to mention in the interview?
It can be a nice touch, but don’t worry that a follow up email might be the difference between getting a job and not getting a job.
If there’s something you want to expand on that might be important to mention in a follow up, do – but keep it short and don’t reiterate or reframe your whole interview.
Your interviewers will most likely have asked you follow up questions in the interview to prompt any additional answers, so don’t fixate too much on what else you could have added. Keep it as a learning for next time.
8. What about applicants with Chronic Illnesses? Will they be treated the same and be considered for a job role equally?
Yes. We want to support you through the application process, so if there are any adjustments you need, please let your Resourcing contact know.
Likewise, if you are offered a job and you accept, talk to us about what adjustments you need. We’re members of the Business Disability Forum and can seek additional support for you through Access to Work or our Employee Assistance provider. We also have a new Disability Network – a community for disabled colleagues and allies that could be a great way to connect to colleagues with similar experiences.
The only time we may advise if a role may not be the right one for you to apply for is if there’s an essential role requirement that cannot be met by a reasonable adjustment.
We know it can be a nerve-wracking conversation to have with a prospective employer or manager, and we want to support you as best we can.
9. Are you open to hire older people (+30) for the Scheme? Or to hire people with experience for entry level positions?
Yes – although do keep in mind The Scheme is made to be an introduction to the world of work and publishing. Depending on your experience and transferable skills, you may be more suited in one of the more experienced roles, but your age won’t be a barrier in you applying.
Keep in mind (and this may be a given), entry level roles will involve entry level tasks (e.g. admin!) – so make sure you’re okay with this before you apply. If you are, we’d be delighted to have you.
10. Would you recommend university graduates to apply for internships or work experience, or entry level jobs?
It depends what you want to get out of it – none require previous experience or a degree.
If you’re looking to get a taste of what publishing or the world of work is like, work experience could be the right choice.
If you’re looking to dive a little deeper and gain some valuable skills over the summer, the internships could be the best thing for you.
And if you want to start a career with us, take a look at our entry level roles.
Keep in mind, you can apply for more than one of these at once.
11. What is the best way to stand out at the final stage of the process when there might be around 4 of you who all have similar experience/skills/backgrounds?
Remember what makes you unique and the best person for the job. Communicate your experience well and show your personality and interest in the role and team.
And if it doesn’t work out this time, learn and try again – best of luck.
12. Do you have any remote opportunities?
Like everyone, we’re learning different ways of working and adapting to life in a pandemic. Many of our colleagues have been working remotely due to the pandemic. However, in more usual times, most would have been working mainly from one of our offices with access to flexible working options.
It’s too soon to say how our experience of working remotely through the pandemic might change our approach, or the location of roles, in the future. However, we will aim to make the best of our experience of both office and remote working.
13. How should you answer a question about salary expectations?
Honestly – but do your research.
Your answer may be impacted by your previous experience or salary, but make sure that your ask lines up with the job you’re applying for.
We share our entry level salary and there are websites that can give you an indication of the kind of salaries different roles and industries offer.
We’re currently undertaking a pay banding project, which means next year we’ll be able to include pay bands in our job adverts.
If a job advert provides a range, think about whether this will be a role you’ll be growing into (i.e. have no current experience and will need to learn new skills in the job) or whether you already have relevant experience. If you’re starting out in this type of role, you’ll likely join at the entry point for the salary band.
14. Would you hire someone who currently lives in another country?
Yes – although keep in mind that we’re not able to provide sponsorship for entry level roles due to the salary threshold required.
This means that if you are applying for an entry level job you’ll need the right to work and train in the UK, and be planning to relocate if the role requires you to be in the office.