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Week 2 Of Work Experience At Penguin Random House

Last summer, I did two weeks work experience at Penguin Random House and here is week two of my work diary. Check out this post to read all about week one of work experience at Penguin.

Unfortunately as this post was written retrospectively, the later days of the week are more than a little bit sketchy in my memory but I hope you enjoy this small glimpse into life in publishing.

So, onto week two of work experience at Penguin Random House. Time flies!

Day 1

The day starts with some admin. Unfortunately, an inescapable part of office life.

It’s Puffin Virtually Live Day! I’ve never seen this show aired before so I must admit I don’t really know what happens, but as far as I’m aware, this show is broadcast all over the world and some pretty cool and exclusive bookish things that happen. At 1pm we head off to the theatre on Drury Road where Charlie and the Chocolate Factory: The Musical is currently showing.

I thought we’d be busy shepherding children or handing out song sheets but turns out everything was  pretty much sorted already so we had nothing to do except enjoy the show. I got a pretty good seat as I’m slap bang in the centre and on the first floor so I can see the whole stage. Woo!

Ex-Blue Peter presenter Helen Skelton is hosting the show today and she has to keep the kids entertained for a good half hour before the show actually begins to stream. This is rather amusing as there’s one kid who is clearly a bit of a trouble maker and he keeps shouting (slightly) rude things out at Helen. All the adults in the room are laughing.

Books picked up: Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys, The Catastophic History of You And Me by Jess Rothenberg and How To Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia by Mohsin Hamid.

Day 2

Week 2 Of Work Experience At Penguin Random House

Mid-way through binding the 13th copy of Zoella’s ‘Girl Online‘ manuscript, I’m called away to Pengui General’s PR department where they’re really, really busy. We’re mailing out copies of Etta and Otto and Russell and James, their big Janurary 2015 release. The presentation for these press copies is absolutely beautiful. Each book is bound with special ‘map’ wrapping paper and there are some goodies inside as well such as a little model cow, a Canadian maple biscuit and a handwritten letter for Etta (you would understand this if you’d read it). It’s all so beautiful and so much time has to go into making and mailing these – I now realise just how hard it is to attract the attention of the journalists and reviewers.

I feel bad because although I’ve only been helping Penguin General out for about 45 minutes, I’m presented with a finished copy of both ‘To Rise Again At A Decent Hour‘ by Joshua Ferris and How To Be Both by Ali Smith, which were both nominated for the Man Booker prize and are supposedly amazing reads. I love this job.

NB. I’ve now read How To Be Both and wasn’t that impressed with it to be honest. Check out my How to be Both book review here.

Then I’m off to a 1 hour podcast with BBC radio presenter Ally McCrae, which was amusing.

An infinite sea of copies of The Infinite Sea have arrived. Time to pack them all into the envelopes I labelled yesterday – here we go again.

All 300 copies of The Infinite Sea have been sent off. Phew.

I have made a friend in the post room. My new friend is a 27 year old lady who has just come back from doing the Columbia Publisher Course in the USA (um, wow?) and she seems to be doing pretty much the same thing I’m doing – mailing. We both agree that even though we hate it, deep down we love it really. Maybe all aspiring employees of publishing houses are masochists.

Labelling and packing more review copies and press releases, this time for Snow Day – a children’s title. Weirdly enough, the woman who assigns this task to me is the same woman who has been sending me awesome review copies as part of her freelance publicist job. Small world, eh?

Week 2 Of Work Experience At Penguin Random House

Showcards. are. a. nightmare. They’re those big cardboard posters of book covers with book event details on them that book stores hang around. I’ve never made one of these before but essentially what I had to do was stick 6 A4 sheets, each with a  part of a picture on them, together to form a larger poster – first by cutting each sheet to size, then rolling it through the sticker machine and finally laying it down on the show board. Sounds simple right?

Oh and I’ve just remembered that I was in a lift with Graeme Simion last week. I haven’t actually read The Rosie Project yet, but I know it’s a pretty big deal and I was freaking the f*** out (on the inside). SQUEE.

NB. One year later, I have now read The Rosie Project and it’s awesome! Check out The Rosie Project book review here.

Mailed some promo posters out.

Mailed some more promo posters out.

Books I picked up: The Shadow Puppet and The Dancer at the Gai-Moulin by Georges Simeon, To Rise Again At A Decent Hour by Joshua Ferris, How to be both by Ali Smith and The Master Builder and Other Plays by Henri Ibsen.

Day 3

Books I picked up: Union J: Our Story, The Mystery of Mercy Close by Marian Keyes, A Rough Guide To The Future by James Lovelock, This Child of Mine by Sinead Moriarty

Day 4 

Mailed more books out. I think I’ve grown to love mailing books out now.

Books I picked up: The Unfinished Symphony of You and Me by Lucy Robinson and Tempting Fate by Jane Green. 

Day 5

Today is my last day and I’m SO sad to be going! Anami, my work experience bud keeps asking me why I look so sad because apparently it shows on my face and I look really subdued. On the plus side, Anami brought in a bag of chocolates from Hotel Chocolat and they are to die for. I steadily much my way through these all morning.

At the end of the day Anami hands me a chocolate lollipop from the Hotel Chocolat bag telling me to take it and it’s a massive round (chocolate) smiley face – too cute!

Books I picked up: Him & Me by Michael & Jack Whitehall, Sybil by Flora Rheta Schreiber, My Lynch’s Holiday by Catherine O’Flynn and The Origins of Sex by Faramez Dabhoiwala.

Voilร ! That’s the end of my two week work experience diary at Penguin Random House. I had a thoroughly enjoyable experience there and would love to go back again one day. Have you done work experience anywhere interesting? Share your stories in the comments below!

If you haven’t already, check out my Penguin work experience diary for week one.

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

If you liked this post, check out these:
Reasons to Always Carry a Book With You
How to Declutter Your Bookshelves
How to Cut Down Your TBR Pile
Beautiful Bookshops in London
How to Create a Cosy Reading Corner

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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. Mellissa Williams
    16th July 2015 / 8:49 AM

    How exciting! Did you have to sign something to say you wouldn't talk about the actual books until later?

    • Laura Hartley
      22nd July 2015 / 10:40 AM

      No I didn't actually!! Now thinking about it this was a bit strange.. I once signed an embargo form for Spencer Matthew's autobiography and that was of *much* less importance ;p

    • Laura Hartley
      22nd July 2015 / 10:40 AM

      Thanks! It was great to see the inside workings of their office ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. Bex Smith
    18th March 2016 / 10:52 AM

    This sounds like my dream work experience! Sounds fab x

  3. Leanne Dolan
    18th March 2016 / 11:09 AM

    What a great place to do work experience. Coming away with the chocolate and books. What a bonus!

    • Laura @ What's Hot?
      20th March 2016 / 12:10 AM

      Not sure there are two greater pleasures in life ๐Ÿ˜‰

  4. 18th March 2016 / 11:21 AM

    My Mother in Law used to work in a publishers until she retired, she loved it and so did we as we got loads of books x

    • 20th March 2016 / 12:10 AM

      That’s awesome! I’d love to work somewhere permanently that offered me loads of free books. A girl can dream!

  5. ratisha goyal
    18th March 2016 / 12:05 PM

    wow! your work seems so much fun and happy to know that you are having fun there. love the books you mentioned here. will soon grab them once i complete the one i’m reading now.

    • Laura @ What's Hot?
      20th March 2016 / 12:10 AM

      Thanks Ratisha ๐Ÿ™‚ Hope you get the chance to pick up some of those reads as they had some really great reviews!

  6. Hungry_Healthy_Happy
    18th March 2016 / 12:43 PM

    That’s so amazing that you are doing work experience there. What a place to learn!

  7. Charli-Blogs
    18th March 2016 / 1:04 PM

    I always have drafts that are forgotten about! One was from 2011… oops!
    What a great opportunity you had!

    • 20th March 2016 / 12:13 AM

      I have plenty more really old drafts that are half-started but now I don’t remember what I was going to say so I can’t finish them! Doh..

  8. MakeUp Fun
    18th March 2016 / 1:25 PM

    Awesome experience! I would love to do an experience like that, unfortunately I haven’t had this pleasure.

    MakeUp Fun

  9. 18th March 2016 / 4:58 PM

    Sounds like a great experience! I wish I could do that some – not permanently!

  10. Pj Zafra
    18th March 2016 / 6:01 PM

    What a great experience. I would love to experience that myself. Thank you for sharing this. You must have been pretty surprised seeing you had an unpublished draft. lol Keep it up!

    • 20th March 2016 / 12:14 AM

      Thanks PJ ๐Ÿ™‚ Yep, I’ve got plenty more unfinished drafts from a very long time ago too… *facepalm*

      • Pj Zafra
        21st March 2016 / 11:45 PM

        Well here’s the bright side, you’ve got tons of content ready for you. ๐Ÿ™‚

  11. 18th March 2016 / 7:40 PM

    I am so glad you had such a wonderful work experience.

  12. 18th March 2016 / 8:00 PM

    oh wow what a fab experience for sure sounds like you had a great time

  13. 18th March 2016 / 8:16 PM

    It sounds like you had an amazing time and all those books! WOW !

  14. Ickle Pickle
    18th March 2016 / 8:25 PM

    This sounds such a great place for work experience. I have never done this, I have always been self employed! Kaz x

    • 20th March 2016 / 12:15 AM

      Oh I can’t imagine never ever working for someone else! I think I’m the sort of person that needs structure in my life.. for now at least! Awesome that manage by yourself though ๐Ÿ™‚

  15. 18th March 2016 / 8:49 PM

    What a brilliant place to do work experience! I’d have loved that! No wonder you didn’t want to leave, all those lovely books ๐Ÿ™‚ x

  16. Beth
    18th March 2016 / 9:42 PM

    Ah brilliant! Glad you enjoyed it. The only work experience I did was in college at a school! x

  17. 19th March 2016 / 12:11 AM

    They really gave you experience in a variety of areas. It must have been a lot of fun learning how the company works.

    • 20th March 2016 / 12:24 AM

      It really was Liz! I’m glad I got to move around a bit as Penguin imprints all publish very different titles ๐Ÿ™‚

  18. Eloise Maoudj-Riley
    19th March 2016 / 3:30 AM

    and so it comes to an end, but be happy you had such a great experience with it all… maybe it will open more opportunities for you later in life as well.

    • 20th March 2016 / 12:15 AM

      Thanks Eloise! I certainly hope so ๐Ÿ™‚ Work experience is such a good opportunity to figure out if a career is right for you before launching into it!

  19. Ty Swint
    19th March 2016 / 4:29 AM

    Very nice. ๐Ÿ™‚ Sounds like a great experience and opportunity to see how the bones of the company work.

  20. AnchorsandHoney
    19th March 2016 / 7:22 AM

    That’s awesome!! This is like the real life version of the show Younger! ;P

    • 20th March 2016 / 12:23 AM

      Ooh I haven’t heard of that show before so I’ll have to check it out!

  21. Rhian Westbury
    19th March 2016 / 9:57 AM

    Sounds like a really fun time at work experience even if all you did was a load of mail outs! x

  22. Natasha Mairs
    19th March 2016 / 10:44 AM

    I would love to work there, sounds exciting and just the kind of thing I love

  23. 19th March 2016 / 8:26 PM

    Your so lucky to have worked with Penguin and picked up some amazing books! What was your thoughts on Maze Runner by the way I am curious to know!

    • 20th March 2016 / 12:25 AM

      Thanks Ana! I really liked The Maze Runner (both film and book). I actually think The Maze Runner is seriously underrated and better than a lot of the other YA titles out there… You?

  24. Sandra Mo
    19th March 2016 / 10:14 PM

    Awesome ! It must have been a good experience to learn lots of stuffs and gain lots of experience ๐Ÿ™‚ you are so lucky

    • Laura @ What's Hot?
      20th March 2016 / 12:25 AM

      Thanks Sandra! It was a really great learning experience and has helped me find other opportunities, which is great!

  25. Hannah Malanga
    20th March 2016 / 4:40 PM

    Wow what an incredible opportunity! I am very jealous, love penguin books.

  26. Laura
    20th March 2016 / 11:44 PM

    As a book lover, I think that this sounds like such a great experience to have had, despite the admin ๐Ÿ™‚ xxx

  27. Sharon Beauty
    21st March 2016 / 2:31 AM

    Wow! Lucky you to be working with Penguin Books and your great experience there.

  28. 21st March 2016 / 9:29 PM

    Really nice experience ๐Ÿ™‚ Thanks for sharing it with us!
    If I were you, I would have slept there all night long!! ๐Ÿ˜€

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