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Back to the Future: Summer Intern Retrospective

When I arrived fresh off the plane from Minnesota in New York City ten weeks ago, I had no idea what my summer in the city and at Penguin Random House would have in store for me. After HR released us into the wilds of the publishing world (just kidding, they just sent us to our respective departments) after orientation on day one, I happily fell into a summer full of

books, WordPress, article writing, and amazing friendships. As the Corporate Communications intern, I worked with colleagues from multiple departments in order to produce some of the content on our Igloo intranet homepage. I helped organize and run a book panel with our sales team that more than 150 people attended (while I guarded the free books in the back). I was trusted to write articles about incredible things that Penguin Random House is doing, from participating in the German art exhibition Documenta 14 to renewing our environmental sustainability efforts. I sat in on an audiobook recording session and listened incredulously as a voice actress flawlessly narrated an amazing novel. I sweated my way through a July morning as I handed out free books in Central Park to people waiting in line for Shakespeare in the Park tickets. I ate lunch with the same five interns almost every day in the Penguin Random House lunchroom—and after work we did everything from karaoke to pasta dinners to touring the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. No HR interview or intern orientation could have prepared me for all the books, friendships, professional experience, and personal growth that came my way, but I wanted to encapsulate the previous ten weeks as best I could. At the beginning of summer, I sent the interns a survey. Last week, I sent a follow-up, asking them to compare their answers from the beginning of summer to the end. Below, you’ll learn about some of their experiences and, I hope, see a little more into what our worlds have been over the past two and a half months (and even longer, in some cases!). I’m entirely grateful that Penguin Random House became my Penguin Random Home for the summer. – Victoria Rabuse   NAME: Julia Bannon DEPARTMENT: Sales What surprised you during your first week? How much I’d be working with numbers and Excel. What are you most looking forward to learning? About how Sales works with creative departments to sell books. What, specifically, do you do every day? What’s your PRH routine like? I have a few daily assignments and spend a lot of time working on grids in Excel. What do you like best about the internship after weeks 1 and 2? Everyone is friendly! What’s the most fun thing you’ve done so far at work? Meet everyone in the office. What’s your favorite part of summer in NYC (not work related)? I love Central Park in the summer.
Favorite book of all time? THE GRAPES OF WRATH by John Steinbeck.


Number of Books Hoping to Read/Actually Read: 8-10/5 What was the best part of your internship? Sitting in on the spring 2018 Sales conference. What’s one thing you wish you had been able to do this summer? Pitch a book to buyers. Are you considering going into publishing as a career? If so, in what capacity? I’m interested in editorial and managing editorial. I like working on my own writing, though, so I am considering magazine publishing as well. What’s one piece of advice for the next round of interns? Make friends with other interns!     NAME: Natalie Edwards DEPARTMENT: Schwartz & Wade, RHCB What, specifically, do you do every day? What’s your PRH routine like? There’s really no typical day. I could be going through the slush pile and doing mailings, or I could be taking on publicity, marketing, or design projects. I just carry my to-dos over from the next day and expect to see new, more  time-sensitive projects come up as I go along. What surprised you during your first week? I was surprised at the sheer amount of tasks I was assigned across different departments (because the imprint is so small) only in the first week. What’s your favorite part of summer in NYC (not work related)?  The sheer amount of free, fun things to do, either with your friends or by yourself.
Favorite book of all time? A ROOM WITH A VIEW by E.M. Forster


Number of Books Hoping to Read/Actually Read: 11/6
What was the most challenging part of your internship?  Learning to prioritize certain projects over others and knowing how and when to take initiative.  What was the best part of your internship? While I loved the variety of work I was able to do, I’d say the people I got to work with were the best part. A cop-out, I know, but it’s true! What’s one piece of advice for the next round of interns? Publishing is more than editorial, so don’t go in with tunnel vision – there are so many departments that all interact with books and their authors in different ways. There are so many people at PRH willing to talk to you about what they do, so keep an open mind and take advantage of that resource. A little email goes a long way!     NAME: Tyler Bryson DEPARTMENT: Data Science How did you end up interning at PRH for this summer? What was the pre-process like? I met former HR generalist Ali Biber while we were working a Columbia University recruiting event. I was with Audible as a Researcher at the time, and Ali was working the PRH booth. From there, it was a simple process. My contract ended at Audible and I wanted to continue working with Data. Turns out I also still get to work with books. What surprised you during your first week? I had three separate computers in my first week. What are you most looking forward to learning? Oh! Pipelines. So much of what’s done on the technical side is in managing the flow and transformation of resources. Familiarizing myself with these systems is exciting…bear in mind, I’m a mathematician. Are there any challenges you already see coming? The aforementioned three computers speak to a challenge: set-up. There are many moving pieces on the Data Science side. Even just knowing where things are, is a challenge. What, specifically, do you do every day? What’s your PRH routine like? At any time I have open: a terminal window for talking to servers, an SFTP client running to shuttle files between my machine and the server, Slack and Outlook for team communication, a browser for research, and an editor for coding. Outside of meetings—and book club!—I move about tending my software menagerie.
Favorite book of all time? Nonfiction: Edmund Morris’s COLONEL ROOSEVELT. Fiction: THE TIGER’S WIFE by Téa Obreht .


Number of Books Hoping to Read/Actually Read: I hope many, expect several, and have read few/Not as many as I’d hoped.
What was the most challenging part of your internship? New technologies. The best and most difficult part of my time at PRH was in developing new skills in Docker, R, and Stan. Are you considering going into publishing as a career? If so, in what capacity? I’m considering PRH, certainly, but in a technical capacity as a Data Scientist. What’s one piece of advice for the next round of interns? Ask questions. Eat with your team. As much as possible, learn from people around you.
    NAME: Rachel Lipski DEPARTMENT: International Finance How did you end up interning at PRH this summer? During my second year at Barnard, Penguin Random House attend a career fair and I connected with a PRH recruiter. I applied for a semester internship program in the digital development department, which was a fantastic introduction to the company. As an economics major, I decided to re-apply to the internship program in an area that was more focused on my interests and skills. Since fall of 2016, I have been interning in the International Finance department. Every time that I interviewed for internship positions I had unexpectedly personal and comfortable conversations with such accomplished leaders and mentors in the company. Clearly, I didn’t want to leave! What surprised you during your first week? Even as an intern my contributions are valuable. Already I can physically see my work being implemented into decks and presentations that are used as visual tools to explain financial trends and summaries to necessary business managers.
What are you most looking forward to learning? I’m most looking forward to learning how to interpret a P&L sheet quickly, gleaning key insights. What’s the most fun thing you’ve done so far at work? I got to sit in on a board meeting with both the CFO and CEO of Penguin Random House! Favorite book of all time: MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS by Agatha Christie


Number of Books Hoping to Read/Actually Read: 3/2 What was the most challenging part of your internship? I was fortunate to be invited to department-wide meeting this summer. It was sometimes a challenge to understand the financial and publishing terms that were often used throughout the meetings. Consequently, it was also a challenge to integrate these new terms into my vocabulary. It is helpful to write down and ask your supervisor to define the terms after meetings! My supervisor was more than happy to go over definitions and concepts with me. What’s one piece of advice for the next round of interns? If you meet someone in a different position or department that you have an interest in, don’t be afraid to request a meeting for coffee or lunch at their convenience!     NAME: Nishtha Patel DEPARTMENT: Putnam Publicity and Marketing What, specifically, do you do every day? What’s your PRH routine like? Every day is different in publicity and marketing. I do a lot of mailings. Sometimes I do research, take Instagram pictures, or other (fun) activities like making playlists or writing Facebook posts. There is no strict routine and that’s why I love marketing/publicity. It’s never boring. What surprised you during your first week? How fast 9-5 really goes. What are you most looking forward to learning? I am looking forward to learning how a marketing and publicity campaign for a book is launched, from its pre-stages to the end. Are there any challenges you already see coming? Organizing all the tasks and making sure things don’t take longer than they are supposed to. What do you like best about the internship after weeks 1 and 2? The people! What’s the most fun thing you’ve done so far at work? Walking around the West Village to take Instagram pictures.
Favorite book of all time? THE NAMESAKE by Jhumpa Lahiri


Number of Books Hoping to Read/Actually Read: 15/8 What was the most challenging part of your internship? Trying to balance short term and long term projects while dedicating enough time to both. What was the best part of your internship? Everything! I loved the people and the opportunities I had. Are you considering going into publishing as a career? If so, in what capacity? Yes, probably continuing on with the publicity and marketing path. What’s one piece of advice for the next round of interns? Be open and don’t be afraid to ask for things you want to try and learn!

Farewell and Thank You from Our 2016 Summer Interns


As the summer winds down, I’m not only bidding farewell to the warm weather and Central Park strolls, but to an incredible internship experience as well. As an  intern in Corporate Communications, I am grateful to have been given the opportunity to get to know an amazing department. From working on news posts for Igloo, to going through the submissions of the High School Creative Award recipients, I was always eager for the projects that awaited me. I loved

knowing that I was surrounded by people who share my same passion for creativity, and of course the scent of a new book. Being a part of the Penguin Random House internship program has allowed me and the other interns to truly immerse ourselves in the publishing process. Thanks to the Brown Bag Lunches and networking events, we all feel more confident than ever to go out there and strive for our future careers. To show our gratitude, some of the interns have shared their experiences. Thank you for a fun and unforgettable internship, Penguin Random House employees. This summer was one for the books (pun-intended)! – Carolyn Garcia Processed with VSCO with c1 preset Name: Annette Lee                                       Department: Knopf  Art & Design What kind of projects did you work on? Mainly, designers would make a book cover and I would design the back cover, spine and flaps of books. It was challenging because I had to design everything based on the front cover, asking myself, “What would the designer have done?” Nevertheless, it was fun, and such a privilege. It is still so surreal to think my designs are going to be on actual books sold to the public!! That feeling will never get old. Additionally, I was in charge of the Instagram posts for knopfjackets. (It is our new instagram, go follow!!) What did you enjoy the most about this internship? I enjoyed the atmosphere and people the most. Everyone is so welcoming and nice the minute you enter the building. There is a very relaxed and cozy feeling that everyone radiates, and I love it. My many mentors were no exception of course, they were the nicest people ever! Always willing to help and see how I was doing. They were so patient and trusted me to do the projects, so I could learn from experience. It was a wonderful and positive environment, in which to grow. Favorite Memory: My favorite memory would have to be the time I went on a photo shoot. Two mentors and I went into a filming studio and had a photo shoot with books for our Instagram page. We brought so many books that filled a huge cart. People would learn what we were doing and get excited, giving us more and more things to photograph! The pictures came out amazing, and we still use them for the Instagram. Favorite book from the take-away shelf:                                                                                             DARK MATTER by Blake Crouch. It is a thriller about a man who travels across multi-universes. It really had me thinking about my life choices and how it affects me. Deep… Everyone go read it! What’s next for you? I will probably cry myself to sleep on the last day at Knopf, but I will return! I was hired as a part-time designer at another imprint here: Dutton. I start there soon, so I am excited to experience more at Penguin Random House. KristinSalazarIntern Name: Kristin Salazar                                 Department: International Finance What kind of projects did you work on? This summer, I researched various book publishing-business models and publishing companies.  I’ve also had the chance to look over Penguin Random House’s strategic business plan, which sets a baseline for the company’s financial status for the next few years. What did you enjoy the most about this internship? I loved the environment of people with diverse backgrounds and passions. Most of the students at my school are business majors, and although I can work with numbers, patterns, and financial data, I appreciate being constantly surrounded by people who are as passionate about creativity, stories, and ideas as I am.. Favorite Memory: During a lunch break with a few other interns in Central Park, we were stopped by New York Times journalists for a video interview because we were playing Pokémon Go. Favorite book from the take-away shelf: I was happy to stumble upon THE LOWLAND by Jhumpa Lahiri, who wrote my favorite short story collection, “Interpreter of Maladies”. What’s next for you? I’m heading to Boston to work for a Bentley University Multicultural orientation for incoming freshmen. After that, I’ll fly to Paris to begin my semester studying abroad in Rouen, France! TannerGarrityIntern Name: Tanner Garrity                                 Department: Puffin Editorial What kind of projects did you work on? Puffin is a Penguin Young Readers paperback imprint, so I got to do a little bit of everything. I read manuscripts and wrote reader’s reports, worked on interior and cover copy, wrote discussion questions, attended design and production meetings, helped improve the metadata for many books on our backlist, and (most importantly) helped clean the book room! My most difficult assignment, though, was coming up with taglines. Settling on five or six clever words to put on a book cover can take an entire afternoon. What did you enjoy the most about this internship? Easily the people. From the wonderful Dana Leydig, Editor at Puffin Books, to my fellow interns and endlessly patient coworkers, to Rob, who brushes his teeth at the same time as me in the bathroom, everyone was inviting, helpful and genuinely excited about my time here from day one. An industry full of employees really passionate about something as important as reading definitely attracts some of the best and wackiest people around. Favorite Memory: Tough to pick just one. The first few times I really felt like I was contributing in a big way to Puffin stand out: I wrote discussion questions for EXIT, PURSUED BY A BEAR and FISH IN A TREE; both are beautifully written novels and I really wanted to do them justice. Favorite book from the take-away shelf: DANNY THE CHAMPION OF THE WORLD by Roald Dahl What’s next for you? I’m looking forward to what should be an exciting last year at Georgetown University, and then I’m hoping to get back into the publishing world for my career! I’m also working on a book in my spare time, so if that pans out, Igloo readers, you heard it here first. Processed with VSCO with c1 preset Name: Danielle Finnegan                       Department: Legal What kind of projects did you work on? I mainly assisted on the creation of a digital archive for the legal department. I helped collect and organize documents for this project, and added them to the online database. I also compared contracts and created a physical archive of past litigations. What did you enjoy the most about this internship? I’ve enjoyed learning about publishing from the Legal department and all the other departments that I was able to encounter. Working in publishing has been something I have wanted to do since I discovered, back in middle school, that it was an actual job. It’s been an amazing experience being here, and learning about the process (and of course all the free books). Favorite Memory: Having lunch in Central Park with the other interns that I have been lucky enough to meet and get to know. What’s next for you? Back to school at Rutgers in the fall for my final year. After that, I hope to be able to work full time in publishing. 13319978_1157454277640174_7734490417619255360_n_356x356-300x300 Name: Jazmin Lesane Department: Viking Publicity What kind of projects did you work on? During my time at Penguin Random House, my supervisors really challenged my intern experience and gave me the chance to explore every aspect of the publicity department. For my first project, I was able to conduct independent research and reach out to hundreds of book review bloggers. In addition, I was able to write and create pitches, galley letters, and press releases for amazing summer titles, like WHEN WATCHED and THE HIKE. Oh, and of course I did lots of mailings! What did you enjoy the most about this internship? While I enjoyed bonding with my colleagues and fellow interns during lunch breaks, what I enjoyed the most was the respect and responsibility I was given as an intern. My department really put a lot of value and purpose behind each of my projects, which made me feel as if I was truly a full-time member of the team. Working in such an inviting environment made working very enjoyable. Favorite Memory: My favorite memory was definitely when I got to meet Leopolinde Core, author of WHEN WATCHED, during an author’s event. Being able to see the mastermind behind a title I helped work on during the summer was incredible. Favorite book from the take-away shelf: Hands down DARK MATTER and THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN! What’s next for you? After this internship, I will be returning back to Indiana to finish my last year at DePauw University, and will be completing my studies in Communications and French. After college, who knows, maybe I’ll be right back here!