Love books? A whizz at writing? Curious about how Penguin Random House decide what to publish, how books get made, and who tells the world about them? Publishing could be the industry for you. We know it can seem like an impossible industry to break into, so we’ve teamed up with Penguin Random House to bring you lot the chance to get two weeks of work experience at the first ever global publisher.
If you’re lucky enough to be chosen to go behind the scenes at Penguin Random House, you’ll get the chance to support the team with book signings and launches, write press releases and blurbs, and research and track the hype around new books. As if that isn’t amazing enough already, the placement could even lead to a job, like it did for Cat Mitchell, a Publicity Assistant at Vintage who started off her career by doing work experience.
We caught up with Cat to find out why work experience was so important for her, and her top tips for wowing everyone while you’re there….
Hi Cat! What’s your role and how did you get into it?
“My current role is Publicity Assistant at Vintage, but I did work experience in the marketing department at Ebury Publishing. My job involves liaising with journalists and event organisers, and assisting the Vintage publicity team with their campaigns. This includes; booking travel and accommodation for authors, writing schedules, creating press releases and even accompanying authors to events and interviews.”
“I even once got to go on a week-long tour with author Katarina Bivald around Scottish independent bookshops – it was so fun it hardly felt like work at all! You also get to help organise launch parties and dinners – my favourite one was the launch of Everything Sweet by the Meringue Girls, which involved lots of lovely sweet treats on a boat going down the Thames! We also work very closely with the marketing department and get to help out with social media too, so there’s lots of variety to what we do.”
Why did you decide to do work experience with Penguin Random House?
“I initially applied as I just really loved the company! Everyone seemed to really enjoy working at Penguin Random House, and I loved the books they published. I really wanted to work in a creative part of the industry, so had always thought marketing or publicity would be the best fit for me. I was hoping to gain an insight into how a publishing company works, and quickly found that Penguin Random House was definitely where I wanted to work.”
What kind of things did you do during your placement?
“I really loved my work experience placement – I especially loved my first task, which was to look through book submissions that were going to be discussed in the editorial meeting and think of marketing ideas for them. It really highlighted how all the departments work together, and was a fun creative task. I also wrote and posted tweets from Ebury’s social media accounts, and read some of their upcoming books to think of competition prizes we could offer for promotion. My favourite part of the placement was actually talking to everyone I worked with. I set up meetings with people in the editorial, marketing and publicity departments, and was given great advice which really helped with my future job applications.”
Would you recommend other people to apply for work experience at Penguin?
“I would definitely recommend applying. It gives you a great insight into the different departments and you also get to meet a lot of interesting people. The people you work with are great contacts for the future too – someone in the marketing team at Ebury recommended me for an internship at a literary agency shortly after my work experience placement, and after that another member of the Ebury team recommended me for my first full-time publishing job over at Michael Joseph. It also helps you to figure out if publishing is right for you, and which department would suit you best.”
How can someone stand out while on work experience and wow the team they’re working with?
“The best way to stand out is just through sheer enthusiasm. I help to supervise work experience now in my department and the people we remember most are those who just seem to really love books, and are fascinated by the publishing process. We don’t expect people to be super confident when they first start (I remember how quiet I was during my first week at Ebury!) but just asking people questions and trying to learn as much as possible from your placement really does help people to notice you, and also gives you the best chance of getting the most out of your placement too.”
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