500 Days of Summer (Interns): A Look Back and a Farewell
As the summer draws to an end, so too does our time at Penguin Random House. Interning at Penguin Random House has provided us with the incredible opportunity to explore every nook and cranny of the publishing industry, develop crucial professional skills, forge lifelong connections, and experience everything the City That Never Sleeps has to offer.
During our time here, we came to work every day eagerly anticipating the next major project that would come our way, whether it was reading through the manuscript of a particularly riveting thriller, collaborating with other colleagues on a Social Responsibility project, devising creative strategies to attract more readers, or designing the book cover of a future New York Times bestseller. And, at the end of each day, we left our cubicles knowing that we had a thriving community of fellow coworkers, friends, and bibliophiles to return to the very next morning.
We are thrilled to say that, after a mere ten or so weeks that flew by in the blink of an eye, we have found a family in Penguin Random House. Thank you all for an unforgettable summer filled with learning, friendships, and an abundance of books! – 2018 Summer Interns
Read on for some exclusive firsthand accounts of our time at Penguin Random House!
Name: Amanda Seaboch
Department: RHCB Publicity
College: Baylor University
Favorite Book: THE DARKEST MINDS by Alexandra Bracken
Life Motto on All Things Book Related: “I’d rather end up a spectacular failure like my literary heroes than be competent and mediocre.” – Unknown
What made you decide to intern at PRH? I’m very passionate about children’s and YA literature. I believe that the right book at the right time can change a child’s life, and Random House Children’s Books thinks so, too. It was an obvious fit.
What does a typical day at PRH look like? For me, it’s jumping on different projects to help the publicists out. That normally means a lot of Excel sheets, a lot of mailing hundreds of books, and a lot of ink stains on my fingers.
Favorite PRH memory? I do a lot of book mailings. Normally I’d have stacks of 200+ books by my desk. One day, I started making them into sculptures. I made copies of BRIGHT WE BURN into a throne, THE CHEERLEADERS into a cheer pyramid, and CATWOMAN into a skyline. One of the senior publicists saw my handiwork and liked it so much that she asked me to recreate it in the photography studio for social media purposes. They say they’re going to hop on the trend once my internship is over and make more book sculptures.
Proudest accomplishment? I would say the CATWOMAN photoshoot. It showed me that my creativity was valued and enforced my love for this job.
Any big plans for the future? Still working on my plans for world domination, but for now I’m going to return to Baylor University for my senior year of college. Sic ‘Em Bears!
Look back on your first day here. Now, fast forward to today. What advice would you give to future interns? Soak up your time with the company/in the city! It goes by faster than you’d think.
Name: Daniel Denning
Department: Corporate Marketing
College: Syracuse University (I graduated!)
Favorite Book: I’LL GIVE YOU THE SUN by Jandy Nelson
Life Motto on All Things Book Related: You’re never too old for YA.
What made you decide to intern at PRH? I am a huge book nerd, and everyone else who works here is one as well. It’s perfect!
What does a typical day at PRH look like? I work on the Penguin Random House social media accounts. At the moment, I am solely responsible for our Tumblr account and Penguin USA Pinterest account, so I always start my day scheduling content for those accounts. After that, there really is no typical day. I work on research projects, create book lists, design fun graphics to promote our lists on social media, create Buzzfeed-style quizzes, make changes to the PRH website, and often get to leave the office to assist with Instagram photoshoots!
Favorite PRH memory? Not a specific memory, but I eat lunch with my co-workers every day, and getting to know them has been such a great experience.
Proudest accomplishment? Helping to completely reorganize our Pinterest marketing plans. I didn’t know that much about Pinterest before I came here, but I became an expert by the end and helped implement a plan to really make it better.
Any big plans for the future? I’m trying to read 100 books by the end of the year and am a little more than halfway there. So, lots of reading. I’d also love to continue working in publishing in the future.
Look back on your first day here. Now, fast forward to today. What advice would you give to future interns? Ask a lot of questions, and get to know as many people as possible. Everyone here is willing to show you what they do if you just ask. You might learn you love something that you had previously never heard of.
Name: Jazzmine Walker
Department: RHCB Editorial
College: Alabama Agricultural and Mechanical University (I graduated!)
Favorite Book: PERCY JACKSON AND THE OLYMPIANS: The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan
Life Motto on All Things Book Related: Reading is a mutual exchange between the author and the reader; they have given you a piece of their heart and soul while you are giving them your undivided attention.
What made you decide to intern at PRH? I wanted to understand the relationship between the author and the publishing house first hand because from a consumer’s point of view you only see the finished product. Also, I really wanted to satisfy my unhealthy obsession for books.
What does a typical day at PRH look like? A typical day at PRH for me involves reading reader’s responses, reading, mailing books and fan mail, reading, and more reading.
Favorite PRH memory? My favorite moment was meeting Camryn Garrett and R.J. Palacio after working with editors in Knopf on some of their projects. It was a surreal moment to actually meet the masterminds behind such moving stories with diverse characters.
Proudest accomplishment? My proudest accomplishment had to be when I had the opportunity to sit down with an executive editor and talk about an acquisition she wanted my input. I was not only able to share my thoughts, but was also able to clear any confusion she had on some of the characters and bits of the plot.
Any big plans for the future? Right now, I am trying to find my feet after graduation. After this internship, I will be looking more into occupations within the publishing industry.
Look back on your first day here. Now, fast forward to today. What advice would you give future interns? Take in everything you possibly can. Whether it be the free books from the take shelves or even information/advice from people in various departments, I would advise upcoming interns to not turn away from opportunities.
Name: Rachel Reddy
Department: PYR Design
College: Savannah College of Art & Design (I graduated!)
Favorite Book: ERAGON by Christopher Paolini and OUTLANDER by Diana Gabaldon
Life Motto on All Things Book Related: Treat every book you work on like it’s your own book that you wrote because that’s how the author would hope you feel.
What made you decide to intern at PRH? PRH has (in my opinion) one of the best ever design teams in the publishing world! It was always my dream to work in a design group like Penguin Young Readers design group and things that thousands of people across the world will recognize (the book covers).
What does a typical day at PRH look like? A typical day for me starts with loading up on hot chocolate, then maybe researching illustrators for a new book cover and designing possible cover “comps” or variations to present to the editor. As an intern, I collaborate with all the designers on these. I also spend my day looking at the current book covers on the bestseller lists to see what is trending.
Favorite PRH memory? This was a nerd moment for me: One of the senior designers took me on a day trip out to e press that prints the book jackets for PRH, and inside the printer’s office, they had copies of all the other books they’ve printed that have been bestsellers. Both my favorite books ERAGON and OUTLANDER had been printed there, and I was way too excited thinking that now I was in the same place where all my favorite books became a physical reality. We were on press to make color corrections to a new jacket for a new book soon to be released, and it was really nice to think that, someday, that book will be a bunch of people’s favorite book and I got to help make it happen.
Proudest accomplishment? I have two proud moments. One was when the designer of a book I loved as a kid said he checked out my portfolio on my website that has my designs for my own book on it and he was excited to see it finished! Another was when one of the interior designers—after I had finished working on a few projects with them—said any publishing design team should feel lucky to hire me!
Any big plans for the future? I’m going to someday get my own book published. It’s an illustrated middle grade book. I also would like to continue working in publishing. I have sent out applications to several full-time positions at PRH and other publishers here in NYC.
Look back on your first day here. Now, fast forward to today. What advice would you give future interns? Networking and meeting people are the most valuable things you can do. I heard this so many times in college and was so tired of hearing it, but it is really true. To specifically design interns, I would say put effort into your research (like what books are on the bestseller lists and how they are designed) even when it seems boring and unproductive because it is helpful to have that background knowledge on top of your photoshop/indesign/illustrator/adobe program skills.
Name: Cormac Chester
Department: Audio Marketing
College: Wesleyan University
Favorite Book: THE SYMPATHIZER by Viet Thanh Nguyen
Life Motto on All Things Book Related: Don’t let school get in the way of curiosity and learning.
What made you decide to intern at PRH? I really enjoy books and the ideas contained in them, and I was interested in learning about their creation, in addition to participating in that process.
What does a typical day at PRH look like? A standard day for me could involve changing file names for review copies of audiobooks, following authors from the PRH Audio twitter and Instagram accounts (@prhaudio for both), going through archives of audiobook newspaper and magazine clippings to determine what needs to be stored versus thrown out, and attending a variety of different meetings focused on marketing and publicity.
Favorite PRH memory? My favorite memory was when everyone in audio had champagne and cupcakes because the NY Times Audiobook bestseller lists (fiction and non-fiction) had just come out and we had claimed both top spots and fifteen books out of thirty total from both lists – it was validation for everyone who has worked really hard at PRH Audio to make audiobooks relevant and enjoyable.
Proudest accomplishment? I kicked a caffeine addiction because the coffee from PRH was making me feel really terrible.
Any big plans for the future? I’m studying abroad in Paris this upcoming semester, so I’m excited to become immersed in a different culture. I’ve been doing my best to listen to French news broadcasts and a French philosophy podcast called Les chemins de la philosophie to prepare.
Look back on your first day here. Now, fast forward to today. What advice would you give to future interns? I think it’s important to have realistic expectations about what your job might entail. Some internship positions at PRH are more engaging than others, but at the end of the day, it’s important to remember that the work you’re being asked to do is the stuff that assistants and other relatively low-level employees don’t really want to be doing themselves.
Name: Sophia Zhao
Department: Corporate Communications
College: Yale University
Favorite Book: THE BOOK THIEF by Markus Zusak
Life Motto on All Things Book Related: Books are proof that magic exists.
What made you decide to intern at PRH? I believe one of the best feelings in the world is reading a piece of written work that truly moves you, and I wanted to become a part of the process that shares this sensation with the rest of the world. As a past winner of the Creative Writing Awards, I witnessed firsthand PRH’s dedication to the community, and I wanted to work for a company that shares my values. And, like everyone else here, I simply can’t imagine a future or a world without books!
What does a typical day at PRH look like? I draft posts and articles for Igloo every day. On some days, I attend corporate communications meetings and work on Social Responsibility projects/campaigns.
Favorite PRH memory? I absolutely loved Company Week! It was a great way to learn more about the company, spend time with my colleagues, and get exclusive sneak peeks at exciting new projects. Knowing that I played a role in making Company Week happen made it all the more enjoyable.
Proudest accomplishment? I felt an immense sense of pride when I was entrusted with writing my first Igloo article, Priya Parker Involves Penguin Random House Colleagues in THE ART OF GATHERING, and when I was asked to work on the Fortune pitch, which showcased our many Social Responsibility efforts, with some of my colleagues in the comms department. These projects not only allowed me to get creative, but also led me to the profound realization that my work is not merely appreciated by PRH and I am more than just an intern in my coworkers’ eyes—my work is valued and I am an equal.
Any big plans for the future? I haven’t thought THAT far ahead, but I plan on finishing college (1 year down, 3 to go!) and, in the nearer future, completing (and publishing) various personal creative writing projects.
Look back on your first day here. Now, fast forward to today. What advice would you give to future interns? Make yourself heard – your ideas and contributions are valued by your colleagues and valuable to the company!