Posted 05.07.18 by Alex Watson
I’ve known I wanted to go into Publishing for a few years now – which means I’ve kept an eye out for any internship or work experience placements being offered to international students in the UK. Early in January, while spending too much time on Twitter a tweet from PRH Careers UK caught my attention – they were offering work experience placements on a random allocation basis and you didn’t need a (UK) degree to apply. Since I had a right to work in the UK with my visa, I decided to give it a shot. I got a rejection email in February but decided to apply for the next batch anyway, hoping I’d luck out the second time – I did. I got placed at Penguin Random House Children’s with Marketing and Publicity around the end of May.
Now that I had been allotted a placement, I was a bit worried – what if my offer was retracted once they realized I could only work a certain number of hours per week? But I needn’t have worried – they were very understanding about my restrictions and allowed me to come in according to my weekly hours. I was allowed to set my own hours – either come in every day for a few hours or for three full days in the week. Wanting to get a well-rounded experience from the placement, I chose to come in for four to five hours every day.
At Children’s Marketing and Publicity, the team was warm, welcoming and encouraging – I never felt as though I was a burden on any of them, in fact, they valued my input and my help and always made sure to say so. My duties included managing fan-mail (both email and letters) for authors and some website curation (I handled some mail for Jacqueline Wilson which had my eleven-year-old self squealing). I also mailed out a lot of books and bookish swag – as a blogger who’d been on the receiving end a couple years ago, I had a new found appreciation for those who had done it before me. I also created some assets for marketing – for websites and apps where authors shared and interacted with their fans which were really exciting and allowed me to exercise my creativity – seeing some of it online was also a huge bonus.
I was also incredibly fortunate as during my placement there were talks held with people from Rights, Production and Editorial so we were able to ask several (probably repetitive) questions and understand what it took to make a finished book and beyond. These talks shattered a lot of preconceived notions I had about working in Publishing and helped me realize that there were a lot of avenues I could get into and use my skills in.
Possibly my favourite bit about working in Children’s was when during a team meeting I displayed so much excitement about Rick Riordan and the Percy Jackson books that I was later invited to talk/brainstorm about a newsletter about the books (this had my present self squealing) and the fandom itself. PRH Children’s was also different in the way they allocated mentors to every work experience intern – my mentor guided me and had a chat with me where I was encouraged to ask any and all questions I had about publishing which to a clueless but passionate student is immensely useful. Along with my mentor, everyone in the team was welcoming and encouraged questions – they wanted me to get as much as I could from these two weeks which I found very kind and I’m grateful for.
Having finished this placement, I have gained some invaluable skills such as using Biblio3 (the metadata system used by most publishers to store data) and I have a new found understanding of my strengths which has made Marketing & Publicity my first choice instead of Editorial along with making Children’s and Young Adult the primary genre I’d like to work in. Plus, I got paid and got free books so that’s a win-win too.