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Penguin Work Experience Week 1: Work Experience in Publishing


In the summer before I started university, I was lucky enough to get two weeks work experience at Penguin Random House. I was to spend the time in Penguin Children’s marketing department and I was so excited! Working in marketing books had been a dream job of mine and I hoped it would live up to my expectations.

Work experience in publishing can be hard to come by so I thought I’d share my day-to-day tasks and overall experience with you all. Here’s what I got up to during week one of my work experience with Penguin.  

Day 1 

I have arrived way too early. I decide to awkwardly wander up and down the streets into random shops until a more suitable time. I finally pluck up the courage to enter the tall, tall, glassy building and I enter the Penguin reception. I pick up my visitor badge and take a seat. Next to me is a friendly looking woman who turns out to be doing two weeks work experience in the Publicity and Marketing Department of Penguin Children’s too! I have a found a friend – good start.


My new friend, Anami, has already done work experience at Penguin before so she knows the ropes and gives me a tour of our floor. Of course, this includes the ‘Pulp shelf’ which is where you’re allowed to take two free books per day. BEST THING EVER. When I read this line of my contract I was incredibly excited, who doesn’t love free books?

And now to work. We begin by updating the Puffin display board with some new newspaper clippings about Roald Dahl and his books which involves much printing and guillotining, but it’s quite fun. Then, we are presented with a huge (and I mean huge) stack of boxes that are full of ARCs of All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven – the new big young adult release. If you’re one of the lucky people I’ve just sent a package out then I’m so jealous of you!

I randomly receive an email fromΒ the Publicity officer, who’d found out I was a book blogger, asking me to participate in The Infinite Sea (The 5th Wave sequel) blogger campaign. Um… yes?! I need to create a post detailing what I’d pack in my apocalypse survival backpack in order to qualify for an ARC (advance-reader-copy) of The Infinite Sea which is heavily embargoed. Yayay!Β 

That’s pretty much it for day one. There was much posting and printing but I think I’m getting the hang of things now so it’s only up from here!

The four books I managed to pick up today were: Beautiful Redemption by Garcia & Stohl, Skeletons by Jane Fallon, Working on my Novel by Cory Arcangel and Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari!

Day 2

Still packing All The Bright Places but we’re onto the last batch of the day and finally we’re finished! I know there are more to come, but that’s a problem for later. I actually rather enjoy packing the books into bags. It makes me feel like Santa’s Little Helper, bringing joy to bloggers and reviewers all over the country!

I was then given the very important task of going to Tesco to buy two bars of Green & Blacks chocolate. I think they were to send to a *famous chef* to persuade him to get in on a Penguin campaign, which seems like a pretty good idea because who can resist a bit of chocolate?

Chapter 1 of Half Wild by Sally Green needs to be sent out to lots of bookish people so I get to work on putting these neat little scrolls into tubes and I try (and fail) and try (and fail) and try (and fail) to create these cool Half Wild address labels to stick on the tubes. After what seems like hours, I give up and move onto the next task. I’ve wasted quite a lot of sticky labels but I’m at my wits end with this project and can’t figure out what to do. (Even Google didn’t help).

Books picked up: Oh Dear Sylvia by Dawn French, My Husband Next Door by Catherine Alliott and The Mysterious Affair at Castaway House by Stephanie Lam.

Day 3

I finally got the labels right! Rejoice! I think I may have jammed the printer, but when I come back a bit later, someone seems to have fixed it. After some time, I manage to get to the printer and get my labels all printed out. Stuck them all to the tubes and they’re ready to go!

Now I need to note down all the important dates for our social media channels e.g. holidays, bookish events etc. Sounds easy but it’s actually pretty difficult trying to find the official dates of a lot of events and whether they’re for the UK or whether they’re international. I’ve arranged them all into a spreadsheet but it looks rather messy so I play around with this for a while.

Books picked up: Love, Nina by Nina Stibbe, Man At The Helm by Nina Stibbe, Ecological Intelligence by Daniel Goleman and Expo 58 by Jonathan Coe.

Day 4


Revisions of my calendar of dates again. Will I ever get it right?! I must admit the way I laid it out was not entirely logical but now I’ve sorted that out it should all be fine.

A box of biscuits from The Biscuiteers, to be used as a competition prize, came in today. They are all Charlie and the Chocolate Factory related and they’re SO cool and they smell amazing!


I then had the exciting (and daunting!) task of going out and about in Covent Garden to quiz people about what books they read as a child and what stories they’ll pass down to their children etc.

I had to wear these big headphones and carry a Penguin microphone which was all rather cool, but very clunky, and it probably looked quite intimidating to the people I spoke to! There was a very varied response from people with some people very willing to share their stories with me and others who clearly wanted me to clear off.

In the end I think I got about 6 or 7 good stories and managed to have a good chat with people about children’s books which was nice. It was certainly a nerve-wracking experience but it was cool I must admit! Everyone in the office has run off to a meeting so I wrote my Half Bad book review, which I wasn’t that taken with but it was an ok read.

Then I helped Anami, my fellow work experience buddy, fold up lots of song sheets for the upcoming Roald Dahl event next Monday. Attaching pens to the song sheets was an absolute nightmare because they kept falling off.

Books picked up: Girl Heart Boy 3, Un de Trop by Ali Cronin (French translation), Cousin Bette by Balzac and Republic by Plato.

Day 5


Today I need to print twenty manuscripts for ‘Girl Online‘, YouTuber Zoella’s autobiography which is coming out in November this year. The printing takes forever and then I had to punch holes in the pages and then load them all onto the binding machine.

I eventually managed to squeeze all the pages onto the binding machine and get the ring to shut but it’s such a tight fit that I’m afraid all the pages will tumble out when their recipients get them. I order in bigger binders. The copies are still printing.

Other people in the office seem frustrated because the manuscripts are taking so long to print and the other printer is out of toner. Whoops? I’m off back down to Mark in the stationery store again to order in some binders and card.

I cut and paste lots of competition entries to the Roald Dahl invention competition that Penguin are running. Some of the entries were so cute, but some were just plain weird if I’m being completely honest.

The Spinebreakers requests are in! Spinebreakers is one of Penguin’s clubs for young reviewers. It was so nice to be able to do something Spinebreakers-related as I’ve been a Spinebreaker myself for a number of years. I’m still so sad that the scheme is ending after all this time! To all you Spinebreakers reading this, your books are on their way!

Packed a big box of promo materials for goodie bags for the upcoming Bath Festival. If you’re attending, then you’ll no doubt be receiving one of these awesome bags with an assortment of bookish/Puffin related goodies!

Back to folding Charlie and the Chocolate Factory Cards and attaching pens. I also had to make question cards for the show next Monday but I get this tragically wrong and end up doing it again and again and again. And still getting it wrong. By this point I have run out of card and the stationery store is closed…

Books picked up: The Infinite Sea by Rick Yancey, City of Women by David Gillham and The Party by Ricard McGregor. —

So that’s it guys! The first week of my Penguin work experience was pretty awesome. It’s so cool seeing what goes on behind the scenes of the publisher that worked on pretty much all of my favourite titles. I think I did a lot more than what I detailed above, but I hope that gives you an idea of what to expect from work experience at Penguin. I’ve picked up loads of new books to read to read over the weekend and I’m looking forward to what next week brings!

Read about my Penguin work experience week 2 here! 

To apply for work experience with Penguin in London, check out this page here.

If you liked this post, check out these:
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Laura is a culture and travel blogger based in London. She studied French at Oxford University and now studies Law in London. She’s an avid reader and traveller and loves to combine the two with literary travel. Find her tips and reviews on the best reads, eats and destinations on whatshotblog.com.

Find me on: Web | Twitter



  1. Alex Sharrock
    13th September 2014 / 1:26 PM

    aaah! I am so glad you have done a dairy for this!

    Hell yes! for The Infinite Sea tour! πŸ˜€ It is one of my most anticipated fall releases! πŸ™‚ I will definitely pick it up when it comes out!

    I look forward to the rest of your diaries & thanks for the giveaway! πŸ™‚

    Alex @ The Shelf Diaries

  2. Ula (Blog of Erised)
    13th September 2014 / 5:05 PM

    Awesome! Sounds like a lot of work but I think you&#39re still loving it eh? πŸ˜€ πŸ˜› This work is something we love to complain about haha πŸ˜€
    Jealous of that pick-up books thing! Sounds cool!

  3. 14th September 2014 / 1:45 AM

    This is so cool! I&#39m so jealous! So those free books that you get to take, are they yours forever? Or do you have to bring them back?

    • Laura Hartley
      8th July 2015 / 12:53 PM

      Mine forever! I picked up around 35 during my whole time there ^^

  4. 17th March 2016 / 11:51 AM

    This sounds like the best job EVER! I wouldn’t want to leave after my work experience ended.

    • 29th March 2016 / 10:22 AM

      I think I actually teared up a bit when I left! Would love to go back one day πŸ™‚

  5. Nayna Kanabar
    17th March 2016 / 1:52 PM

    What an interesting work experience week. It looks you your really enjoyed it.

  6. 17th March 2016 / 3:41 PM

    So cool! I’ looking forward to the rest of your diary! Best job ever!

  7. Natasha Mairs
    17th March 2016 / 4:20 PM

    oh Wow!! I would love to work there, sounds absolutely amazing!!! I’m a little bit jealous x

  8. Melanie Edjourian
    17th March 2016 / 4:30 PM

    wow those biscuits look great, I’m off to see Charlie and the Chocolate Factory this week with my children.

    • 29th March 2016 / 10:22 AM

      Ooh hope you enjoy it! I’d love to see the full show πŸ™‚

  9. 17th March 2016 / 7:05 PM

    This sounds like a great work experience, I would love it!

  10. Helen Clark
    17th March 2016 / 7:11 PM

    Wow what an amazing place to work! I’m slightly jealous. As well as the free books it sounds really interesting seeing what goes on behind the scenes.

    • 29th March 2016 / 10:22 AM

      I’d love to go back again because I’m sure what goes on behind the scenes has changed even more since my time there with everything becoming more digital now!

  11. Eloise Maoudj-Riley
    17th March 2016 / 8:23 PM

    lucky! I’m glad to hear that you were given such an opportunity in your life, and that you took this opportunity and are making it a success. congrats!

  12. 17th March 2016 / 9:38 PM

    This is freaking awesome you got to work with Penguin? Oh my god you are so lucky!

  13. Ickle Pickle
    17th March 2016 / 9:43 PM

    Oh this looks such a fab place to work – how exciting! I loved reading this, thank you. Kaz x

  14. 17th March 2016 / 9:53 PM

    It seems you had a lot of fun and that Penguin is a great and creative place to work at. Don’t worry about the printer, we all had our wars with a particular printer at some point in our lives. I managed to jam the paper so bad that the printer was unfixable. Ups. πŸ™‚

    • 29th March 2016 / 10:23 AM

      Hahah I am waiting for the day when that happens to me too.. Were you at work or at home?

      • 29th March 2016 / 12:38 PM

        I was at work. He had to throw away the printer, haha. πŸ™‚

  15. 17th March 2016 / 10:19 PM

    Oh wow this sounds like an awesome place to spend some time! x

  16. 17th March 2016 / 10:19 PM

    OOK that sort of makes no sense.. What I mean was an awesomeme place to work / spend some time haha! x

  17. TheRainStorm
    17th March 2016 / 10:38 PM

    Looks like a nice place to work for a digital nomad πŸ™‚ thanks for the input.

  18. Anamika Ojha
    18th March 2016 / 1:37 AM

    Wow! this sounds like an awesome place to explore! Thanks for sharing it with us.

  19. GlossyFinds (GlossyGirlKay)
    18th March 2016 / 1:27 PM

    Omg this reminds me of when I worked for HarperCollins…deff one of the best jobs I’ve had. Would love to be included in your blogger list if you have one. I’ve been trying to get into book reviewing ^_^

    • 29th March 2016 / 10:24 AM

      I did my work experience quite a while ago so I wouldn’t be able to add you now sorry! Drop their marketing team an email though, they’re all really nice πŸ™‚

  20. 18th March 2016 / 8:32 PM

    Oh my goodness, I want to work there! Sounds amazing and I love that you get free books! x

  21. charlibruce
    18th March 2016 / 9:55 PM

    I used to work closely with Penguin when I was a bookseller as that’s my trained profession, it’s really nice to see what goes on there from your point of view. I’m glad you’ve had a great first week xx

  22. kitty kaos
    18th March 2016 / 10:45 PM

    How exciting that you get to take books home and this sounds like you got to do lots of varied tasks what a great company

  23. 19th March 2016 / 12:13 AM

    ooo i never knew what it’ll be like working for a publisher. it sounds really amazing

  24. Ming Ming
    19th March 2016 / 12:33 AM

    What a great experience! Plus you’re able to take books for free…

  25. Cheyenne Skyeforest
    19th March 2016 / 3:00 AM

    What an awesome learning experience. It sounds like you got to do a lot of varied and fun projects! That is so cool! I am happy for you to get to do something like that!!

  26. Tori Gabriel
    19th March 2016 / 11:28 AM

    This sounds like a terrific place to do work experience. It sounds really interesting plus the free books is a fantastic perk of the job.

    • 29th March 2016 / 10:24 AM

      Being paid in free books is the best kind of payment πŸ˜‰

  27. Brittany Lockwood
    19th March 2016 / 9:31 PM

    Sounds like a great experience for work! Getting free books is always a perk.

  28. Hello Beautiful Bear
    19th March 2016 / 9:54 PM

    Ooh I would have loved to have done my work experience somewhere like this! They sound fab and being able to take books home would be heaven for me! X

  29. Doran
    20th March 2016 / 4:58 AM

    What an amazing experience! I would love to see an inside peak of Penguin.

  30. FabZlist
    21st March 2016 / 4:34 AM

    Great post!Sounds like a wonderful experience

  31. Angie Rose-The Freckled Rose
    28th March 2016 / 8:31 PM

    This sounds like such an amazing experience and I totally agree, who doesn’t love free books? You are incredibly lucky to go behind the scenes, I really appreciate you sharing it! The Charlie and the Chocolate Factory biscuits are so cool! All work is hard work, but if you love what you are doing, it makes it that much easier! Happy to hear you are enjoying it!

    • 29th March 2016 / 10:25 AM

      The biscuits are cool aren’t they? The Biscuiteers do so many funky biscuits for events and I’d love to buy some for myself one day. It was really a really great experience and I’d love to go back! Thanks for stoping by πŸ™‚

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