The Summer I Turned Into a Penguin: My Surreal Time as Penguin Young Readers Intern

When I began college, I knew one thing: I want to work in publishing. I was going to excel in school and figure out how to break into an industry that is notorious for gatekeeping, particularly when it comes to Black and Brown people. As a young, Black woman, I knew if I truly wanted to do this, I would have to be unwavering in my determination and hold my motivations close to my heart to become a barrier-breaker in this field. I have desired to be in publishing since I was a high school senior and learned of the race disparity within the industry. As a result, I geared my undergraduate work toward studies in race and children’s/YA literature so I could take my personal and academic background into ushering in change.

As a freshman English Lit major at the University of Southern Mississippi (USM), I met Dr. Luis Iglesias, Faculty Advisor for USM’s chapter of Sigma Tau Delta. This meeting is what set me on the path that brought me to the penguin in the orange oval.

As a sophomore member of Sigma Tau Delta, I learned about the partnering between the organization and Penguin Random House. Upon learning of my strong desire to enter publishing as an advocate for Black voices and stories, he recommended that I apply. However, I was two long years away from being eligible. In the meanwhile, I sought out any publishing experience I could get in southwest Mississippi, which wasn’t a lot.

Fast forward to 2022, I am in my final semester of undergrad and student-teaching, and Dr. Iglesias reminds me of my Sophomore year dream. As I had gone through the majority of school in the pandemic, I had slightly begun to doubt if I had gained enough skill to secure one of these coveted spots. I took a leap of faith and applied in the midst of the chaos of teaching, applying to grad schools, and life. When I received an email with the subject line “PRH Summer 2022 Internship Interview,” I was speechless. Sigma Tau Delta had read my letter, felt my passion, and selected me for priority candidacy, and now Penguin had done the same!

Jumping forward, I began my internship a week later than the other interns because I spent a month abroad celebrating graduation. Less than 24 hours after arriving back in America, I started my first day on the Penguin Young Readers publicity team! It’s funny because I had initially interviewed for editorial. However, the ways of HR are higher, and I landed in the dynamic world of publicity. The one word I use to describe the feeling of working for the largest of the Big 5 publishers as a fresh graduate is “surreal.” Nineteen-year-old me wanted this so badly. And now, I am actually doing it. I made it. Things come full circle.

I worked as a publicity intern under the supervision of the amazingly talented and fabulous Tessa Meischeid, my true hero. She guided me through my 10 weeks with kindness, humor, Team chats, and memes. If there’s one thing we did as a team, it was laugh. This was my first introduction to the world of publicity, and I had no idea what to expect. To say that I learned a lot would be an understatement. I learned everything about the world of children’s publicity. From writing press releases and pitches to researching major media outlet contacts and compiling reviews to helping plan school visits and author events, my time on the team was special. This experience taught me how to be adaptable in an industry that is forever evolving and shifting. I worried about what this would look like remotely, if the magic would be dimmer, but that was not the case. I fostered lovely relationships while being 18 hours away. Our team was full of encouragement and support; everyone wanted to get to know me and give advice. I will miss our department meetings where we connected as people first and publicists second. It was a mini family, and I do not take my time with them for granted. I already have plans to meet for coffee with some of them once I’m in the city!

I now have a whole new skill set that I will take into what comes next: an MS in publishing at New York University! I am thankful for the support of my school, Sigma Tau Delta, and Penguin Young Readers for allowing me to get my foot in the door, and now the world has opened up profoundly for future endeavors. My greatest takeaway is simple: enjoy every second because you deserve to be here.

Abigail Jordon
Penguin Random House Internship Recipient, Summer 2022
Alpha Nu Gamma Chapter, Secretary
University of Southern Mississippi, Hattiesburg, MS


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.

Fall 2024/Spring 2025 Internship

The Penguin Random House 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.

Fall/spring interns will work remote for 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.

  • Fall 2024/Spring 2025 PRH Internships Likely Offered: Marketing and Publicity
  • Internship Dates: ten weeks in fall 2024 and ten weeks in spring 2025

To apply for priority consideration, applicants must apply BOTH to Sigma Tau Delta’s AwardSpring platform AND Penguin Random House’s Application portal by the following due dates:

  • Application to Sigma Tau Delta for priority consideration: February 5 at 11:59 p.m. CDT
  • Full application to Penguin Random House: TBA

Past Penguin Internship Recipient Blogs

Exploring the World of Children’s Publishing with a PRH Internship
Hidden Heroes: Working as a Production Editorial Intern at Penguin Random House
Interning at Penguin Random House through Sigma Tau Delta
An Internship Like No Other: Perseverance and Publishing at PRH
Putting the Puzzle Pieces Together: My PRH Internship
The One Where I Remotely Interned at Penguin Random House
Overcoming Imposter Syndrome to Apply for a PRH Internship
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

More from Footnotes: January 10, 2023

2023 Convention Update
Apply for a Sigma Tau Delta Journal Internship
Chapter Enrollment and Activities—Spring 2023

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