Tuesday, 8 November 2011

A Perfect Day at Penguin

Last Thursday I made the trip down to London from Manchester for Penguin's annual Graduate Open Day.  
I had to get up at 4am to be there for 9. No one should be forced to get up that early unless they're going on holiday, seriously. Train stations are very eerie at that time as well, and I did not envy the people who were opening up the coffee places at 5:30am. The train was pretty empty as well, apart from the odd sleepy businessman in a suit.

The sun came up somewhere past Rugby, and I pulled into London Euston at around 8am and jumped on the tube to Charing Cross. Even though I live and study in quite a big city, traveling to London and riding the underground was still a bit of a novelty for me. I felt like such a tourist.

I arrived at Penguin head offices in good time and we were whizzed up to the 10th floor for breakfast. Apparently the room that we were in was the room from which Winston Churchill watched the Blitz, so we felt pretty special.

What followed was a series of talks from those who work in all of the different departments at Penguin, and the companies which are part of the Penguin group as well, like DK, Viking, Michael Joseph and of course Puffin and Ladybird. (Who didn't have those as a kid?)

It was really interesting to hear about all of the different processes that go into making a book. From predicting 'the next big thing', to editing, production, publicity, marketing, rights, and sales. Each speaker gave their own story of how they broke into the industry, and what they're looking for in a graduate. It was great to hear about people's personal experiences and all the different routes that they took to get where they are today.

Also - free lunch! A student never turns down free food, especially if it's thai green curry. Mmmm.

During lunch we had the opportunity to talk informally with quite a few of the people who spoke earlier in the day. It was great to be able to ask them questions on a one-to-one basis rather than in front of an audience. Although quite a few people still had a large group around them!

Everyone was really enthusiastic and genuinely wanted to help as much as they could, and I received some great advice.

The ever so lovely Ashley and Bryony who I met at the event :)

At the end of the event we were given a goody bag which included a copy of The Help, which has recently been made into a film starring Emma Stone. I saw it the other week and really enjoyed it, so I'm looking forward to reading the novel. Definitely my kind of goody bag.

(Part of being a student is coming home and realising that your parents are slowly turning your room into a store cupboard)

All in all it was an amazing day. Really insightful and inspiring. Publishing is like any industry: if you've got the passion and the drive (and are willing to work your way up) you can do it. Well, that's what I'm telling myself anyway...



  1. Loved your blog post Emma, I read it after it was retweeted by Penguin, and you're absolutely right! I went to the Graduate Open Day back in 2009, and I've now worked in Production for Ladybird Books for almost a year an a half, starting as an Assistant and working my way up to Production Controller. The contacts I made that day were instrumental in getting me an interview in the first place, and I'm sure you met some brilliant people from across the business who'll remember you in coming months if you decide to apply for a position.

    Best of luck!

  2. Penguin books twitted-recomended your blog,
    and that's what I'm here.
    Very nice description of your day there.
    (I love green curry)


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