Posted 16.09.19 by Ellie Harlow
“I arrived in July with little to no idea what to expect from the world of publishing”
As I write this round-up in the final week of my internship I am trying to think of ways that I can finish my final year at university in Glasgow, whilst simultaneously stay here in London to continue working with Penguin Random House Children’s department! I arrived in July with little to no idea what to expect from the world of publishing, and two months later I feel like I have only just experienced the tip of the iceberg.
I applied for the summer internship programme with a special interest in three of the nine internships that Penguin Random House offers, those that involved working in children’s publishing. I was thrilled to get through the written application, and video round, and prepared myself for my first ever journey to London for the assessment day. I went with the mind-set that I was going to absorb as much as possible, and simply enjoy the day, as I had no idea that I’d then be offered one of the internships!
“As someone from Northern Ireland with no connections in London I was a little bit worried”
Cue my second ever journey to London, this time for a two month stay. As someone from Northern Ireland with no connections in London I was a little bit worried that a) I wouldn’t be able to find a place to stay and b) that, if I did find somewhere, my budget would barely stretch to cover this. However, thanks to the recommendation from Penguin Random House, I was extremely lucky to be paired up with a variety of hosts from the Spare Room Project, which offers those doing an internship or work experience in publishing a place to stay in the home of someone who also currently works in publishing, all for free.
“I had no experience or knowledge of marketing but this didn’t matter”
During my time at Penguin Random House Children’s I worked in the Marketing and PR department, with the Puffin and Ladybird Audience Development team, who work across online brand platforms and digital marketing. I had no experience or knowledge of marketing but this didn’t matter as everyone was keen to meet up with me and explain their role and how the department worked as a whole!
I was lucky enough that the following year was going to be the 80th anniversary of the Puffin brand, so my main summer project revolved around researching and compiling ideas to celebrate this anniversary year and engage audiences online for this event. This included a visit to the Penguin Random House archives (yes, I did touch Virginia Woolf’s bag!) and access to content across the 80 years of Puffin’s existence.
“It was so fun and interesting that it didn’t even feel like I was ‘doing work’”
It was so fun and interesting that it didn’t even feel like I was ‘doing work’. I had lots of freedom to be creative and opportunities to ask people about how best to execute some of my ideas. At the end of the internship I presented this research and concepts that I had come up with to the department and hopefully they will be able to use it for next summer!
Additionally, I also worked on the current summer digital marketing campaign, ‘Puffin’s Stories for Everyone’, writing copy, compiling data spreadsheets, scheduling social media posts, organising competitions and giveaways. I also participated in the planning for the autumn campaign and got to experience how the team bounces ideas and strategies off each other in order to achieve the best and most creative final campaign. Hannah, Cara and Caroline made me feel truly a part of their team and I am so glad I had the opportunity to work with them!
“My advice for anyone about to start out in the world of publishing is to speak to as many people as possible”
My advice for anyone about to start out in the world of publishing is to speak to as many people as possible when you arrive, especially those who aren’t in your team! My knowledge of publishing when I arrived was so minimal that I had no idea how many different sectors and teams there were. Encouraged by my mentor, I emailed people from all over the business about meeting up for short catch-ups in which we could chat about their role and their day-to-day schedule. This helped me gain a better insight into how a big publishing house functions, and also gave me some ideas for future job applications!