As a little girl in Malaysia, I thought publishing was a faraway, star-studded world of Smiths and Joneses that a girl like me could never be a part of. I was Ariel in the ocean singing “Part of Your World” to a Eurocentric industry that felt unreachable. However, in university, I realized I could join the narrative. That voices like mine should join the narrative, and there were ways I could make that happen. Enter my 2023 Editorial Internship at Penguin Random House, a.k.a. the best work experience of my life.
It was so hard to suppress a yelp in Shakespeare class when I discovered Sigma Tau Delta had selected me as one of four priority candidates for an interview with Penguin Random House. I got to meet my amazing supervisor, Executive Editor Zareen Jaffery, as well as Editorial Assistant Gnesis Villar from Kokila, a PRH imprint that focuses on projecting diverse voices in Children’s and YA books. Our interview was lighthearted and delightful, and I was ecstatic when they hired me as their intern weeks later.
The people I worked with are legends. Namrata Tripathi, founder of Kokila and publishing market giant; Zareen who has acquired bestselling projects like To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before; and Joanna Cardenas, who is a star at Middle-Grade and every project she works on, and many more—all kind, talented, genuine heroes. Instantly, Kokila felt like home. My first day I was welcomed to attend their weekly team meetings to contribute ideas in a lively, safe environment.
I expected to only be handed administrative tasks and was blown away when I ended up offering editorial comments on seven different books ranging from Picture Books to Young Adult, meeting authors face-to-face, having one-on-one chats with PRH employees inside and outside our imprint, cataloging Kokila’s entire list of books, and more meaningful experiences I will never forget.
I must give a special shout-out to my boss, Zareen Jaffery, who became a loving guide and very important person to me. She is a light in this industry, and she was the kindest, most supportive, fun, and informative boss.
Because of this internship, I now feel like I am a part of the wider publishing community. By seeing the inner workings of the industry, I know for certain this is a market I want to join and love. Most notably, I’ve established strong connections with bestselling authors, editors, and literary agents who’ve taught me immensely as a budding YA author. Equipped with their guidance, I’m in the works of querying my novel, empowered to project my voice as a Malaysian author!
I realized I wasn’t Ariel singing “Part of Your World.” Instead, I could make this whole new world my own.
To interested students, publishing is not a faraway world. It’s competitive, but within your reach. Take initiative. Ask questions. And revise your application materials. Get feedback from a Vocatio Center, your professors, your Advisors. You don’t need to be valedictorian or a 4.0 GPA student or a TED-Ed Speaker to become an intern. In my experience, the most important ingredients are showing your WHY, the specific passion motivating what you do, and a track record of how you’ve consistently worked to get involved in the field (eg. an editor for your school journal). Know who you are. Be willing to do anything, because ultimately, behind every menial task lies the grand purpose of publishing: Everyone can read.
Feel free to write a comment below or contact me with any questions at my LinkedIn.
Penguin Random House Internships
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.
Summer interns will work remote for 28 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.
- 2024 PRH Summer Internships Likely Offered: Editorial, Sales, and Marketing and Publicity
- Internship Dates: eight weeks from June – early August 2024
Application due dates:
- Application to Sigma Tau Delta for priority consideration: August 7 at 11:59 p.m. CDT.
- Full application to Penguin Random House: TBA
Note: PRH will no longer be offering internships only during the “spring semester.”
Past Penguin Internship Recipient Blogs
My Summer with Penguin Random House
The Summer I Turned Into a Penguin: My Surreal Time as Penguin Young Readers Intern
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: July 25, 2023
W. W. Norton Internship Priority Consideration
Building a Classroom Library as a First-Year Teacher
An Internship Stipend Proves the Benefits of an English Degree in the Philanthropic Sector
2024 Common Reader—Carl Phillips Then the War: And Selected Poems