Posted 19.04.17 by prhcareers
“I ended up producing a strategy presentation, which I presented to over 50 people, including the International CEO. This strategy later became Penguin Platform.”
Hi Rachael, you did your internship a few years ago now, but tell us: what was it like?
I interned in Summer 2014 in the same department I currently work in – Consumer and Digital Development. I worked between the Audiences and Digital Development team (then known as the Digital team) and the Consumer Insight team.
I was briefed that Penguin Random House wanted a new way to talk to their young adult audience online. And that was basically it! I conducted lots of research: running focus groups, online surveys and looking at what other media brands did online. I also got to work closely with the Children’s division, and was invited to brainstorms and marketing meetings. I ended up producing a strategy presentation, which I presented to over 50 people, including the International CEO. This strategy later became Penguin Platform.
Three years later, a very similar internship has just cropped up!
And how did you hear about the internships?
I always say I fell into publishing, as if you had asked me 5 years ago what I thought I would be doing, there is no way I would have said this! I studied Maths and Chemistry at university, and was in my first year of university when I saw this advertised on Twitter.
In my gap year I had set up a YouTube channel and blog, where I talked about books and film. I didn’t set it up with the mind to go into publishing – it was just something I liked doing.
When I saw the internship advertised I knew it was perfect for me! I loved YA books and digital – it was something I spent time doing as a hobby, and couldn’t believe that someone would pay me to do it! Research and strategical thinking also appealed to me because I studied science, and although I knew I didn’t want a science career, I liked the thought-process.
What was the application process like?
In all honesty, I don’t remember it that well. There was a CV and cover letter, and in hindsight, my CV formatting looked dire. I had never applied for a proper job before and had taken a template off the university careers service, but luckily they saw through that and to the content!
Then there was HireVue, which is a video interview. I had prepared every question I could possibly think of, only to have my university hall’s wifi crash after the first question. I had to ask for a redo, thinking there was no hope of me getting it after that. Luckily, HR were very understanding!
Lastly, there was the face-to-face interview, which went fine, and then a couple of days later I was offered the internship.
What was the most challenging thing about your internship?
My age. I was in my first year of uni, and the youngest intern PRH had ever had. I had done a bit of office work before as a receptionist, but I had never done anything where I had to produce “real work”. It was a steep learning curve on how to build a project, produce work and then present to a huge amount of people. However, I learnt a lot and it helped me with my first proper job 2.5 years later!
And what did you find most helpful?
My managers were really supportive. They even made sure I got a couple of days’ work experience in other areas of publishing to see what it was like. Reading through the Children’s editorial slush pile was enough to make me see that editorial was not for me! They made sure I was invited to meetings outside my project remit and made sure I was involved in the wider team. They also pushed me: initially I was only meant to present to 3 key people, but it then grew into a much larger presentation. This meant I really got the most out of my 10 weeks.
So, you interned with Penguin Random House, and then got offered a permanent position with us. How did that come about, and what are you doing now?
Well the short answer is harassing HR for temp jobs after I left. I had to go back to university after my internship, while a few of the other interns were kept on afterwards. I kept in touch with both of my managers and met up with them regularly during my university holidays. I also kept in touch with my HR contact.
Eventually this paid off, because in August 2016, after I graduated, I was asked by HR if I could temp as a marketing assistant in Cornerstone. During the end of my temp contract, a permanent job in Audiences and Digital Development cropped up, and I ended up in a full circle as the team’s assistant.
And finally, for the people applying, do you have any tips?
Don’t be afraid to be different. On paper, I didn’t look like the traditional publishing candidate. I studied a science degree, had little publishing work experience, and was very young. However, it was the fact that I was young and studied a science degree that helped me get hired. Don’t apply thinking that you have to fit into a certain box – it sounds really corny, but just be yourself!