Work Experience at Penguin Random House

Hello and happy new year! I am so sorry for not posting in over a month. Life has been very busy and I’m going to be telling you about one of these reasons right now. Do you really want to know? Well read on!

So, in September after only my first time applying I was offered 2 weeks paid Work Experience at Penguin Random House in London between 4th – 15th December. Working with books has been something that I’d been considering for a while and after going to Penguin’s Job Hack Event in Norwich in July I knew it was something that I was interested in. As, although I have two degrees (a BA Hons in Photography and a MA in Creative, Digital and Professional Writing) I didn’t know what career path to take. I knew this work experience would give me an idea of what it would be like to work in a publishing house and I was really excited. Like, majorly.

What I’m going to do is talk about the experience as a whole including the application process, what I got up to, what I learnt and what is next for me. I’m hoping this may help some of you reading this who want to apply for work experience at Penguin or who may be considering a career in publishing.

The Application

The application for work experience at Penguin Random House is so simple. You don’t need to submit a CV or cover letter and you don’t need to have had any other experience within publishing. You don’t need experience to gain experience. The only things you need to provide are;
  • Your availability
  • The department/division you want to work in
  • Answer three simple questions (but this doesn’t have any factor in if you get a placement)
Placements are selected randomly to give everyone a fair chance. So even if you don’t get in on your first time applying don’t give up. It has nothing to do with your application itself. I have spoken to people who didn’t get a placement until their fifth or sixth time of applying. So please don’t lose hope!

What I got up to

I did my placement in Children’s Marketing & Publicity and this was amazing. I have a big love for YA and Children’s literature, and Marketing/Publicity is the area of publishing which I was the most curious about so it was honestly the perfect place to put me. Everyone was really friendly and I gelled with the team straight away. They were always happy to answer any questions I had about their role, job application tips, Penguin or just publishing in general. I had regular catch ups with my points of contact and my mentor and this was such a big help.

Anyway, as Marketing/Publicity is all about creating a buzz about a book I did a lot of things to help with this. These included;

  • Mailing out books to bloggers/librarians/competition winners etc. I got to be part of the big mail out of the upcoming debut novel by Andrew Zurcher called Twelve Nights which is out in April (I got given a copy to say thanks and that was just one of many perks)
  • Checking the Jacqueline Wilson fanmail email inbox and monitoring her fansite. I love Jacqueline Wilson so I’ll admit I did get a tad bit excited about doing this.
  • Photo Tasks. I got given a few photo tasks to do by various members of the team. The photos I was taking were for competitions, social media and fansites. My favourite was taking Christmassy photos of Father Christmas’ Fake Beard by Terry Pratchett.
  • Using Biblio to look up information about a certain book. Biblio is the system that Penguin Random House use to keep information about all the books they publish.
  • Research Tasks. I did a few research based tasks during my two weeks to help with upcoming campaigns. This was probably my favourite thing to do as I love researching, especially when it’s about things I adore.
  • Sitting in on meetings. I sat in on a few meetings with the whole team. I’d never been in a meeting before so it was really interesting to see how they work. It was also great to hear about what the department had been up too.
  • Checking emails on a daily basis. I had to check emails with general enquiries each day.
  • Using my creativity. I got to use my creativity to the full and as an already creative person I was in my element. 
  • General admin work like printing, restocking office supplies, taking post to the post room etc (this does sound boring but it is a big help to the team!)

What I learnt/perks

I learnt many things during my two weeks at Penguin, a lot more than I first anticipated. I went in thinking I knew what I was going to be doing but I was wrong. I learnt;

  • How to manage my time. Each day I would be given several tasks to complete and I had to figure out how to get them all done. This involved planning and splitting up my time perfectly.
  • What really goes on in a publishing house. I learnt all about how much work goes into getting a book into a bookshop. Despite doing my placement in Marketing & Publicity I managed to speak to people from Editorial, Production and Rights. Which was really interesting and mind opening.
  • How I work with others. I learnt that I am a very big team player. I was always willing to help my team out with anything.
  • What it’s like to work full time. As I’ve only worked part time to go into full time was a bit of a shock. I was coming home each day shattered but not in a bad way.
I also realised that there were a few perks to working at Penguin which added to an already incredible experience. These were;
  • Free books. Each day I was allowed to take two books home from the pulp shelf. I usually went at the end of the day as books were added throughout. I also got given a few ARC’s from the team I was working with which was amazing (I think I ended up going home with 30 books overall!)
  • Free hot drinks. The hot drinks machine was amazing. I ended up going to it many times a day. The hot chocolate was to die for.
  • Being in London. I LOVE London so to be back for a few weeks was just the best.

What is next for me?

After doing my two weeks work experience I definitely know I want to pursue a career in Publishing. I am going to be polishing up my CV and looking for entry level jobs within Marketing (as much as I liked the publicity side I feel that I am more suited for Marketing), with the aim to hopefully get into a publishing house. I am going to be applying for The Scheme and also Penguin’s summer internship if I don’t find something permanent by then. 

My two weeks at Penguin Random House were just outstanding and if I could give any advice for anyone wanting to apply I would just say ‘go for it!’. It’s an experience that will give you so much knowledge about the publishing industry and you’ll be having fun along the way! Trust me..

3 thoughts on “Work Experience at Penguin Random House

  1. Hi! This blog post was really helpful whilst I was filling out my application for work experience at Penguin. I would love to go into marketing and publicity so I really hope I get the chance to work in that sector. Thank you so much for your useful advice 🙂


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