Overcoming Imposter Syndrome to Apply for a PRH Internship

I believe that the most beautiful experiences are more often than not the ones we don’t see coming, and the time I spent with Penguin Random House this summer only serves as a testament to this belief. On May 24, a day before the application for the internship was due, I got an email notification from Sigma Tau Delta detailing the availability of the Publicity Intern position within the Vintage and Anchor Imprints of Penguin Random House. Initially, I was eager to apply, but the magnitude of the words “Penguin Random House” made my phone increase in weight; the height I was holding my phone diminished and went with it my confidence. I brushed off my conflicted attitude with a calm and cool; “If I get to it, I get to it.” I went to work and pretended to busy myself with the tasks already accounted for while thoughts of “what if” circled my mind until I was left unable to focus.

On May 25, I went to my call-center job perusal. I watched the hours on the clock tick with a sadness that I was letting another opportunity pass me by, and the relief that I was saving myself the disappointment of an inevitable rejection; I mean, this was Penguin Random House, after all. At 11:00 PM, 59 minutes before the application closed, I was on my nightly phone call with my mother. We were catching up, but the noise of our pleasant but insignificant recount of whatever roast beef recipe we’ve been loving faded into an irritable noise as my eyes watched the clock tick to 11:01. It was now or never. With my mother’s blessing and encouragement, I’d chosen the now. Our facetime call ended abruptly. My fingers went to work on a cover letter.

Of course, we all know how the story ends. I was offered the position approximately one week after submitting what I imagined to be a monstrosity of an application. I can recall the anxiety that bubbled in my stomach on my first day. Imposter syndrome plagued me with doubts of whether I’d be an asset, compatible, or of any use to the company at all. Thankfully all remnants of doubt faded at my first weekly meeting.

Over the course of the 10-week internship, I was tasked with many projects within the publicity field. Among my favorites were the creation of Press Releases that creatively depicted the titles to come for the following month, monitoring publicity hits for newly released titles, and the crafting of pitches to be sent to journalists for media outreach. This internship contributed to my professional growth by introducing me to a job that I hadn’t known existed prior. As a strategic communications minor, I’ve been able to dabble in the creation of campaigns and marketing tactics: however, my internship with Vintage and Anchor’s publicity department acquainted me with the beauty and give-and-take nature of media relations. As a publicity intern, I got to go straight to the source rather than looking at the big picture. Subsequently, I was educated on a certain intimacy that is present between a publicist and a journalist that I hadn’t known of before.

This internship impacted my future career plans immensely. Simply put, this experience has left me feeling like a recently shaken snow globe; unaware of the possibilities until probed into movement. I went into this internship set on being an op-ed journalist for a digital publication. However, what peaked my interest in the position initially was my enduring love for books and storytelling at all levels, both novelistic and journalistic, and the idea that I would be able to combine media publications with my love for literary fiction; a career that had only seemed realistic in my dreams prior to Penguin Random House. While the majority of my work was done within the Publicity department, I was fortunate to meet with and learn from employees from a variety of sectors, including but not limited to both production and managing editorial, the speaker’s bureau, cover, and interior design. In these conversations, I found myself gravitating toward editorial due to the ability to implement my own creativity and literary opinion for the sake of amplifying author voices on their journey to publishing. In short, I leave this internship open to a career in publishing at a multitude of levels, and confident that remaining open, flexible, and fluid will inevitably lead me to the perfect fit. This internship revealed me to that a prosperous and joyful career for me ultimately will be in a world of books; whether that is as a publicist, editor, or critic, I want to live in the endless escapism of trade paperbacks.

This summer, I learned many lessons that will not soon depart from me; including but not limited to the contrast between frontlist and backlist titles, the value of comp titles while constructing media lists, and the importance of funding to the internship experience. This was my first internship with a highly regarded corporate company, and my first paid position within my desired field as well. Being paid for my work this summer was not only a highlight because I was able to leave my part time call-center job, but because it showed not only to me, but the entire summer 2021 cohort that making a living in the field of our dreams is possible. While I can only speak for myself, I believe the entire cohort would agree that the funding of the internship experience contributes to our propulsion into young professionalism, while also giving us a needed sense of encouragement that we are seen, valued, and essential to the productivity of the company.

I completed many tasks this summer, but the most significant of these was my reunion with the world of literature I’d forgotten about, and I fell in love all over again. I leave this position with a reignited passion for reading, a new found love for publishing as a career, and with both eyes frequently (obsessively) watching the job page.

Cheyenne Paterson
Penguin Random House Internship Recipient, Summer 2021
Alpha Beta Zeta Chapter
Hampton University, VA


Penguin Random House Internships

Paid internship opportunities are available from Penguin Random House to provide interested undergraduate and graduate student members of Sigma Tau Delta with experience in the publishing industry.

Spring 2022

Application due dates:

  • Application to Sigma Tau Delta for priority consideration: December 15, 2021
  • Full application to Penguin Random House: January 13, 2022

With a full focus on Managing Editorial, and Production Editorial, the spring 2022 internship program offers candidates the opportunity to work in the Penguin Random House Adult & Children’s divisions, attend weekly professional development programming, and learn about the world of publishing. This program is intended to provide opportunities for racially/ethnically underrepresented groups in the publishing industry. Active chapter members interested in learning about the world of marketing in book publishing are encouraged to apply. No prior publishing experience is required.

Similar to the previous programs, this program will be 100% remote and will run between Monday, March 21 and Friday, May 20, 2022.

During this eight week program, the intern will work 14 hours per week at a pay rate of $20/hr. Intern schedules will be flexible to account for candidates who may be located in a variety of time zones. Active, eligible student members of Sigma Tau Delta who are chosen by Penguin Random House for the internship program will receive an additional $350 stipend from Sigma Tau Delta. Active members include undergraduate and graduate students, and students who graduated during the month of December 2021.

The Penguin Random House Internship application deadline for Sigma Tau Delta priority consideration is December 15, with full applications due to Penguin Random House by January 13, 2022, 11:59 p.m. EST.

Past Penguin Internship Recipient Blogs

The One Where I Remotely Interned at Penguin Random House
Saying ‘Why Not’ to a Career at Penguin Random House
Publishing in the Time of Covid: My Virtual Internship at PRH
Not So Random Memories from My PRH Internship
Making Protagonist Choices: My Internship at PRH
Perfect is Penguin: My Internship at Penguin Random House
My 140 Hours Interning at PRH’s Razorbill
How an Internship Shaped my Career
Spending Summer in an Igloo: My Editorial Internship with Penguin Random House
Interning at Penguin: Life of a Book Nerd
The Halfway Point: Penguin Group (USA) Summer Internship

Add Comment

Click here to post a comment