Posted 13.09.18 by Alex Watson
The summer between academic years is always a strange time.
For me, they typically involve online classes, a mountain of books to read, Netflix, and far too much time on my hands. Coming to the end of my second year at University, I wanted to do something different. I’d done marketing work experience in the past, but it had never answered the one big question racking my mind recently: what industry do I want to work in?
There was no doubt that I wanted to be somewhere creative. But, I’m passionate about so many things – literature, video games, film, and the list goes on. Lucky for me, marketing skills are transferable and work in every industry on my radar. Therefore, I want to take my time to dip my toes in every industry I can, learn the skills I need and gain experience in order to determine my career goals.
Initially, I’d remained local in my search, looking at small businesses that could use an extra hand for a week or two. Then, a friend suggested that I broaden my search. Instead of looking locally, she suggested that I look for something in a major industry in a different city. With that boost, I managed to find work experience opportunities at Penguin Random House.
One thing that attracted me to Penguin Random House (aside from the fact that it was Penguin Random House!) was that it pays. For a struggling student who would have to book time off work to partake, the pay really helped. In fact, the work experience seemed to tick every box: marketing experience in a creative environment, with a company I adored, in London, and it’s paid. Perfect.
The application was simple and the idea of random selection really took the pressure off. First time I applied I didn’t get it; which was fine because I had a mountain of University work to focus on. The second time though, I got chosen and placed in my first-choice department: Childrens’ Marketing and Publicity.
From here, the gears got turning. I didn’t get the subsidised accommodation, so I got in touch with James at the Spare Room Project. The project dedicates it’s time to helping interns from outside of London find a spare room with a publisher. This meant that for my first week, I got to stay with another Penguin Random House employee in his spare room for free. The room was only a 25-minute walk to the office, which meant a sleep in and time to grab a coffee on the way.
For my second week, I managed to book a cheap hostel even closer to the office; this offered a unique chance to meet other people from across the worlds who were visiting London. Plus, with the help of my University and the Bright Futures Fund, my travel was covered.
Once I got to London, everything happened so quickly. I wanted to take the opportunity to experience everything I possibly could, inside and outside the office. One brilliant thing about Penguins Random House work experience is that you have a host to act as your point of contact. You’re there to help them, just as they are there to help you.
To anyone considering Penguin Random House Work Experience, should you get a place, make sure you use your points of contact. Talk to them, ask if they can help arrange meetings for you, take the initiative to help them. If there’s a part of the business you wish to learn more about, ask to have a coffee with someone in that area. I learned so much from taking the time to have coffees with multiple people and asking about their careers, what motivated them, the advice they’d give new starters.
Remember, you only get out what you put in.
I’ve had such a lovely and positive experience in a kind and open working environment, where everybody genuinely cares about what they’re doing. Everyone believes in their work, their mission, and is dedicated to inspiring readers around the world. There’s never any pressure or person breathing over your shoulders waiting for you to mess up. It’s a wholesome, supportive environment.
I definitely hope to return and work with Penguin Random House in the future.