Thank you so much for applying to our Summer Internships. We really appreciate the time and effort everyone put into their answers and we were so impressed with the answers we saw.
Whilst we’re not able to offer personalised feedback further to what is included in the Applied link as we were lucky enough to have had over 2,600 applications, we’d like to share some helpful feedback about what we were looking for and which answers caught our eye.
For all questions, the STAR method is great for structuring your answer – Situation (give context and set the scene), Target (what was the aim), Action (what you did and how you did it), Result (what happened).
Q1. Tell us about a time when you’ve used your communication skills to build a relationship with someone who had a different view to yours. How did you tackle it and what was the outcome?
This question was about communication and building relationships with people.
The best answers all went into detail about the following things: 1) explanation of the situation and how the other person’s view differed to their own, 2) identifying and empathising with the other person’s point of view, and 3) how they took steps to build the relationships given these perceived challenges.
It was important to focus on the element of building a relationship, rather than just persuading someone to your point of view. We were impressed by answers that built relationships using a variety of thoughtful communication techniques – such as understanding the other person’s perspective / context, listening and empathising and looking for common ground on which to move forward.
Q2. Tell us about a time when you’ve taken initiative and been proactive in finding a solution to a problem before being asked. What steps did you take and what was the result?
We’re looking for people to demonstrate that they can be proactive, take initiative and anticipate what is needed, even before being asked. This meant looking for examples of where you went above and beyond your normal role or brief to identify a potential problem and took steps to solve it before it became an actual problem.
The best answers 1) told us clearly what the situation was and the potential problem they’d identified, 2) outlined what steps they took to mitigate or prevent the problem, 3) demonstrated proactivity and forethought, and 4) their solution meant that they provided a real benefit or additional support to those around them.
Examples which stood out included creating new processes to make their working team more efficient or delivering exceptional customer service before a complaint had been raised.
We read many answers that described how they discovered a problem and then reacted to it. Whilst this demonstrated good problem solving skills and an ability to be thoughtful and responsive – it didn’t answer the question fully.
Q3. If you could start a conversation with a subject matter expert on something you’re curious about, what would it be? Tell us why it interests you and what makes you want to find out more? It could be anything from a hot topic in the news, to a popular trend on social media.
The answers to this question were really impressive and fascinating to read. This question was an opportunity to demonstrate your curiosity – which to us means that you’re always looking outward and are keen to learn.
Good answers talked about a topic that they were interested in and showed an engagement with the world around them. Great answers did this and more. They also showed in their answer that enjoyed exploring and researching ideas and concepts by looking at the topic from different angles and perspectives, and made interesting links and connections to trends or particular thought leaders who they’d be curious to speak to.
These were the answers that really captured our imagination, and made us just as curious about the topic too.
We hope this is useful feedback. If you haven’t been successful this time, we also have work experience applications currently open here, and you can find our entry-level roles here.
This summer, I took part in a Communications and Editorial Internship with Penguin Life. I had just finished my university degree in English Literature and Psychology, and in the mid-exam flurry applying for the PRH summer internships seemed the perfect way to procrastinate!
I applied for four of the internships on offer as they all sounded fantastic, but I was particularly delighted to be shortlisted for Penguin Life’s, as their books are so inspiring. The second stage was a video interview through Penguin’s HireVue programme, followed by a final interview in person. Pretty soon I was packing my bags and leaving Ireland to begin! I think it’s important to only apply if you’re passionate about the type of books an imprint publishes. You’ll need to be able to demonstrate this passion in your interviews, and in any case you’ll have a much more rewarding time there if you’re working on books you really love!
During my time at Penguin Life, I worked primarily on social media for upcoming books and authors, scheduling posts and figuring out the best platforms for them to reach their audience. This involved lots of research on social media and websites, seeing which audiences were engaging with the content we put out, and finding ways to target our posts to even more closely match their interests.
I designed gifs and quote-cards (a great chance to improve my Photoshop skills!) wrote copy for posts, and talked authors through the best ways to use their Instagram, Facebook and Twitter to increase their popularity. On the editorial side, I got the chance to help with preliminary work for books – creating samplers to send out to journalists in advance of publication, offering cover feedback, and helping to put pitch documents together to bring to leading figures we wanted to write for us. There were also many very fun trips shepherding authors to photoshoots, book signings and the BBC studios in the mix!
One of the most interesting projects I had was planning a Consumer Connect Away Day for my team. We were working on two upcoming titles and needed a really in-depth understanding of the audiences who would be likely to buy them. So, I organised a research day out of the office, putting together two routes which visited the shops and restaurants these consumers would be likely to frequent. We followed the routes, making notes and taking photos and taking time to actually experience a day in the life of these consumers. I had been doing so much online research prior to this, and it was fascinating to more literally “walk in the footsteps” of people, and really get a feel for what their lives and interests were like.
The internship was a fantastic opportunity to learn as much as I could about publishing and communications – I was able to sit in on planning and brainstorming meetings, offer my own suggestions, and I even got the chance to take a course improving my presentation skills.
I had plenty of freedom to come up with my own promotional strategies for the books I was working on, while always being able to ask for advice when I needed it. I’d advise anyone on similar internships to take every opportunity you can while there – I wish I’d done even more now that it’s over.
I spent a lot of time talking about books on the internet before I started my internship at Penguin Random House, on both my YouTube channel and my blog, especially Young Adult books. So when I saw the YA internship advertised, I knew that this was something I wanted to do.
I don’t have a traditional background for someone who wants to work in publishing. Mostly because I study Chemistry and Maths at university, but last year I did do a week work experience in a non-fiction publishers. I’m also incredibly active digitally, and it was a combination of skills that landed me this internship.
My internship is about researching the YA audience and helping to produce a digital marketing strategy, so it involves a range of analytical and creative skills. I’ve spent my internship doing everything from combing through spreadsheets to attending marketing brainstorm sessions.
Because I’m based in the Group Digital sector, I work across the Penguin Random House Company, which has given me the opportunity to work in the Strand, Vauxhall Bridge Road, and Ealing site, of which the whole company is split. This means I can spend a morning in one site, and go across London to another.
That’s what I’ve loved the most about my internship. The variety. There’s been so many different projects and places I’ve been too. I’ve had the opportunity to make something I’ve been doing as a hobby for the past year into a career. I’ve been able to meet people from marketing, publicity, and digital sections, and these offices is the friendliest one I’ve worked in. A particular highlight has been meeting Tom Weldon, the CEO.
I’ve been given my own project to work on, and at the end of the internship I will be able to present to senior staff, which is a huge opportunity for me. Having my own project means that I’ve really had something to sink my teeth into, and it’s also something the company will use, so it feels like I’m making a real impact.
I’m the youngest intern here, which initially I found a bit intimidating, but I realised that brought my own area of expertise, because I’m close to the YA audience. I’ve realised that when applying for internships, there’s nothing wrong with being different to the standard candidates.
I’ve had a passion for books for as long as I can remember which led me to talk about them online. I dreamed of a career in publishing, but didn’t think it was possible due to my science degree. I’m really thankful to PRH for the opportunity, and who knew that spending way too much time on the internet could land you an internship?
It’s no secret that publishing is very competitive to get into. We’ve all heard how essential work experience is, and to be honest, this is not far from the actual truth. For me, this summer internship has been instrumental in gaining valuable insight into the book industry and the inner workings of a big publishing house.
My time in the Marketing department at Vintage has been very busy, as I’ve been supporting the team with a variety of analytical and creative tasks. I mainly work on online branding and strategy, which means that my goal is to get as many readers talking about the (amazing) books they publish.
As part of this, I’ve been involved in researching the digital footprint of their authors, handling their social media channels, monitoring key cultural brands, using Google Analytics to assess their digital output, uploading web content, designing artwork and the list could go on… I also gained exposure to campaigns for big names such as Haruki Murakami, Martin Amis and Ian McEwan, which taught me a lot about the marketing efforts behind brand authors.
Another perk of the role was getting involved with the graphic novels list at Jonathan Cape, which happens to be one of the best in the entire country. Having the chance to go through their open submissions entries and spot fresh talent has been one of the highlights of my time at Vintage. Moreover, I also had the opportunity to attend internal meetings and liaise with people from other departments, such as Publicity, Sales and Editorial, which helped me better understand the entire publication cycle of a book.
After graduating with an English Literature degree from UCL, I spent my first year out of university striving to get relevant work experience. Having a clear goal in mind has been very useful, as it helped me narrow down my choices and focus on developing very specific skills. Therefore, before joining Vintage, I briefly worked for a tech startup, the BBC, and other departments at Random House, whilst also studying for a Digital Marketing qualification with Google.
My advice for those trying to break into publishing is to do a lot of research around the different roles available. Having a good understanding of how a publishing house actually works is essential, as most people are unaware of the myriad opportunities available out there. However, for those digitally-minded graduates who are brimming with ideas and want a creative role, I highly recommend looking into a Marketing career. Trust me, promoting books is awesome.
Hello! My name is Charlotte and I’m currently working within Penguin UK’s Production department as part of Penguin’s Summer Internship Scheme.
Before interning at Penguin, I studied English Literature and Creative Writing at the University of Kent. Since then I’ve been doing volunteer work with my local council libraries, particularly with the organisation and run up to the Summer Reading Challenge. I also spent the beginning of 2014 working in Adult Editorial at Bloomsbury Publishing.
My role mainly focuses on Penguin’s Print on Demand (POD) process. Using digital files, the printers are able to print a title to order and ship the books directly to the customer. This enables the printers to print just one copy at a time in order to meet single-copy demand. POD is great for backlist titles with low annual sales and also for out of print titles, as it means Penguin can keep far more titles in print without having to pay for warehouse space or losing money through unsold stock.
My job is to review the current POD process and find out exactly how it works as it’s all quite automated and a little bit mysterious! I’ve also been analysing the process to highlight any areas which could be done more efficiently, and am now at the exciting stage where I can implement solutions and actually see the benefits of these changes.
I studied POD in my final year at university where I went through the process of preparing a book for print using POD, so it was something I already had an interest in and was really keen to continue learning about on a larger scale, (although I may have underestimated just how much more complex it would be!) It has been a huge learning curve and has involved a lot of going back and forth between various departments and the printers, (as well as quite a lot of redrafts and huge Excel spreadsheets), but it’s given me great experience of the Production department processes and roles and has convinced me that Production is definitely where I want to work.
Everyone has been so nice and friendly during my time here and also really keen to help, which has been great as I’ve definitely waylaid several people with an abundance of questions! It’s been a really rewarding and satisfying experience knowing that my work is making a positive difference to the functioning of POD, and I’m really looking forward to bringing everything together at the end, although I will be very sad to leave Penguin and the Production department – I’ve become rather attached to POD!
So, a big thank you to Penguin and the Production department for giving me this fantastic opportunity. It’s given me such a great understanding of the Production department and I have loved the experience!
Save for the countless picture and chapter books stuffed into every nook and cranny of the surrounding area, the PR department of Penguin Children’s is a far cry from your typical primary school classroom, where my recent academic training prepared me for work. Having completed a few publishing internships before and during teacher training, my interest in children’s publishing was alive and kicking, and so when Penguin advertised a summer internship within their children’s department, I chased it with (somewhat manic) enthusiasm. Weeks spent drafting and editing my cover letter (and chasing down friends and family to proofread every version) paid off as I finally found myself at 80 Strand, where I would spend the next 10 weeks as a PR intern.
Perhaps the most striking observation I’ve made during my time here (and one I’m reminded of daily) is the incredibly fast pace of the PR department; numerous projects running alongside each other require a dedicated team with high levels of energy and enthusiasm in order to be carried out effectively, and every day the team displays nothing short of superhuman qualities when it comes to getting the job done. Their passion for what they do is infectious; whether proudly leading the way in the YA movement with John Green’s phenomenally successful novel, The Fault in Our Stars, or inspiring a love of reading in a generation of children because of the Wimpy Kid series, the PR and Marketing teams pull out all the stops when it comes to promoting the products of a business they truly believe in.
As for my own role within the department, I look exclusively at the current events programme, measuring its overall effectiveness and making recommendations based on observations and research. It’s a job that strikes a nice balance between desk-research and being out and about; one day I’m in the office looking at sales data, the next I’m taking notes at a sing-along event for toddlers at Edinburgh Book Festival! I am also regularly invited to sit in on meetings and brainstorming sessions, which offer an invaluable insight into the inner-workings of the department, and am lucky that, for the odd time I feel I can contribute something, I feel listened to and valued. While everybody has their own individual jobs to complete, PR is also a very collaborative process, and the team are very welcoming of any thoughts or ideas they can bounce around.
As I write this, I am halfway through my 7th week at Penguin, and it feels like time has been robbed right from under me. It has been a truly wonderful experience, steeped in learning curves, challenges and opportunities, and I’ll be sad to swipe my ID tag for the last time come September. I am so grateful to the inspiring and supportive people I’ve met along the way, for the interesting and engaging tasks I’ve been set, for the opportunities I’ve been presented with and for being invited to be part of such a brilliant business, if only for a short while.
As the Group Commercial Sales intern for Penguin Random House, I work to analyse and promote our titles within the international e-book market…amongst other things!
On a day-to-day basis, I check how our titles are doing globally across platforms such as Apple, Google, Kobo and more. I liaise with other departments as well as other territories to make sure that our titles are visible and that we are doing our best to increase our sales potential.
On top of this day-to-day work I have a few specialised projects that are proving to be very interesting, like researching e-piracy and some possible areas for business expansion. I had fun creating a monthly highlights newsletter about exciting upcoming titles that went out to what felt like everyone in the international digital book trade.
As everything we do is on an international scale, some projects can seem pretty daunting at first, but the more I’ve got into it the more I’m really fascinated by all the possibilities – as well as the challenges!
I graduated last summer with a first in English and French. I also speak Italian and am about to start German classes again. Having a few languages has proved invaluable whilst working in the international market – although I’ll be in trouble if I ever get asked to cover Japan…
Before this internship I was working for a major multinational electronics company across a couple of roles. I have a strong background in sales, though my employment history is ‘colourful’, with jobs in PR, hospitality and even a year’s teaching in France. As competitive as the industry is, ‘publishing’ is such a large term that I think the most important thing is to be flexible and work to your strengths. There’ll always be a department that could use your talent.
Wanting to make the most out of my time here, I’ve managed to worm my way into so many great meetings and events that I wouldn’t have otherwise got to go to. I especially loved the International Sales Conference held at a lovely hotel in Bristol. It surprised me how much of a sense of community there was amongst the wider international sales team. This was also my first time meeting some really big, inspiring authors, including Ian McEwan.
I like selling books better than anything else I have sold in the past, because there’s just so much more to them. The same can be said for the publishing industry. No two jobs are the same, and the best part of being an intern is that you have the potential to tap into as many of these different departments as you like.