Being a History and English Literature student at University, I decided it was time to dedicate some thought into my future. I had by this point whittled down my desires to focus on a career that was primarily literature or writing based.
Fortunately, in October 2016, I was given the opportunity to spend some time on a work placement with Penguin Random House based in London. Having not the slightest knowledge beforehand of what the demands of a publisher would entail, I was a completely blank slate.
Eager for experience, I didn’t specify a particular area of interest, and so I ended up in the Children’s Marketing and Publicity division. My first false preconception, it that everyone would be middle aged, wearing suits and matching pompous sneers as they carelessly threw hopeful manuscripts into bins. This couldn’t be further from the truth. The dress code is casual, so casual that I felt overdressed playing it safe in a shirt and jeans. Furthermore, 90% of the people I got talking to where in their mid-twenties (and I was networking all over the office), and super friendly. So friendly, that I still stay in contact with the majority of the people I worked with to this day.
Naturally, as free labour you are toward the bottom of the pile, and are responsible for the more mundane tasks, such as dispensing people’s mail and running out to purchase stationary. However out of you 8 hour day, these mind numbing processes take up about an hour, maybe two tops. The rest of the responsibilities I was issued were fairly un-standardized and interesting. Like I said earlier, you are essentially team bitch of the department, which means every person in that department emails you every time they want something done. This means you’ve got people from marketing, sales, publicity, and editing sending you emails from all corners of the office begging for your help. Prioritizing these is possibly the hardest task of all, because naturally you don’t want to let anyone down. Regretfully, I couldn’t please everyone, despite staying late where possible. But hey, that’s life I suppose.
The jobs ranged greatly, from checking Jacqueline Wilson’s fan mail (people send her weird stuff), to setting up online competitions, and attending book signings. I managed to spend a lot of time with one of the editors at Penguin Random house, and even aided him with judging a short story contest that was run for charity. Although the role I was given was broad, it’s very easy to streamline yourself into a particular area to better familiarize yourself with a specific role. For example if you are interested in editing, it’s very easy to get chatting to one of the many editors who are floating round the office and offer them your help. I even went for a few drinks with one of them at the end of the day to pick his brain.
I couldn’t recommend the experience enough, especially if you are on the cusp of dedicating your future to publishing. It’s super easy to apply, You can find the applications clicking here.
If you guys have any questions feel free to drop me an email, as I am aware I have kept this very short and sweet. Also I still stay in regular contact with the people I worked with, so anything I can’t answer I can for sure try and pass on.
Thanks for reading!