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A Look Inside Children’s Publishing: Siena’s Summer Internship at Random House

August 24, 2011

Many Publishers hire “Summer Interns”. This is a wonderful way for interested college students to experience working at a publishing house and learn the ins and outs of a potential future profession. This summer Random House Children’s Books welcomed Siena to our offices for a few months of education and fun, and who knows, maybe some day she’ll be back.

Here’s how Siena spent her summer vacation:

It was March and it was raining.  It rains a lot in Providence.  I was sitting in the library blankly staring at my laptop.  A dozen boxes were open on the screen revealing numerous industries and opportunities for the summer.  Sounds great, right?  The world was my oyster, or so it seemed, but after applying to what seemed like a million internships I still had heard nothing.  Not even a measly, “No thanks we don’t need you.” Just silence.  Maybe they were on to me, these mysterious, shadowy figures who allegedly held the keys to my post undergraduate future.  Could they really tell that I was only half heartedly answering their redundant application questions?  Was my resume too scant?  Was it that obvious that I wasn’t even sure why I was applying to intern at their company in the first place? I also lacked confidence in the appeal of my chosen major of comparative literature to potential employers.  All of these doubts piled up as I acknowledged that increasingly poignant question to which I consistently lacked an answer, “what do you want to be when you grow up?”  I was completely stymied.  Slumped in my chair I moved into the desperation stage of my internship search and did the last thing I had wanted to do, ask my mother for help. 

                A day or so later I was rewarded with a tidy email including several names and phone numbers of real life adults.  Looking at the list I wasn’t particularly heartened at the prospect of the certain industries into which I had gained potential access, but I dutifully began the “networking game.”  It was because of this list that I spoke to a woman who worked in publishing.  I asked her to simply talk to me about the industry and its different avenues.  As she spoke something miraculous happened, my interest was piqued by something tangible.  I didn’t want to get my hopes up however.  It was already late in the school year to be still searching for an internship.   But with a change of luck and maybe a little twist of fate, I was being told I had the opportunity to intern not at her house but another, Random House. 

 People know the name Random House.  Many probably couldn’t tell you a specific title they’ve read from this publisher, but they’ll have a hunch that it was probably a great one.  I was in about the same place when I started.  Despite this awareness of prestige, I was always impressed with the looks I received when I told people that I was going to be an intern for Random House.

 

 The first thing I remember was walking into the lobby.  As I apprehensively waited to be taken up to my floor, I examined titles perched inside of the glassed off bookshelves.  I found myself being repeatedly surprised that Random House had published some of my favorite books. Growing up, I always was a reader, but when I pulled a brand-sparkling-new book off the shelf of my local bookstore I never gave an ounce of thought as to how it got there.  After this summer, I have a whole new appreciation for where books come from and how much it takes to get them into readers’ hands.   

The Random House, Inc. Lobby

 

I knew I was to be an intern in the children’s sales division, but lacked any real conception of what that possibly meant.  I figured I’d be flipping through beautifully illustrated picture books all day.  I was completely wrong.  My first job was to reorganize many, many cover proofs that had fallen prey to a disarrayed file cabinet, while a mysterious fellow co-worker launched rubber bands at me.  Not a bad start, especially since I quickly became familiar with the new titles coming out for the fall and spring.  As the days passed I felt less like an intern and more like a part of the team, which is something I’ll never forget about my experience at RH.

I discovered that Children’s publishing is incredibly multifaceted.  It includes everything from a superstickerific  (what a name, right?) Dinosaur Train coloring book, to something as riveting as the dystopian thriller AshesWorking in this division also reminded me of the influential and inspirational qualities of children’s literature, often forgotten with the bravado of growing up and reading “adult” novels.  Rediscovering my youth through these books wasn’t the only thing that made my summer magical, but also the people that I encountered throughout my days at RH.  When my alarm came rudely crashing through my dreams at 7:32am, it wasn’t an enormous travesty because I knew work would be worth it.  All day I was surrounded by people who loved their jobs and were passionate about them, even after many years.  Not to mention everyone was literally talking about books all day, which was simply too good to be true.

So now I can say with certainty that I know one thing I’d love to do after college – working in Children’s Publishing.  I know that this isn’t a growing industry, but as everyone relented this summer it is a changing one.  So hopefully within that change, there will be a place for me. Fortunately, people will always need stories.  I had this revelation the other day when I was so absorbed in Jennifer Donnelly’s Revolution on the subway, that I almost missed my stop.  Frankly, no matter where you are in life, it’s always nice to be able to take a break from your own and become wrapped up in someone else’s.

 Thank you Random House for a great summer!

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9 Comments leave one →
  1. Terri DeGezelle permalink
    August 24, 2011 8:15 am

    Thank you sharing it sounds like a hard working summer but a dream come true. Count your blessings. terri

  2. August 24, 2011 8:43 am

    It sounds like it was an amazing internship! You are so lucky to have landed such a great opportunity.

    BTW: I am reading Revolution now too. I can’t believe I waited so long to pick up this book it is amazing!

  3. August 24, 2011 1:03 pm

    I want a close up look at those bookshelves!

  4. August 24, 2011 1:13 pm

    I love the Random House lobby! Getting to see those bookshelves is still something I look forward to when I visit!

  5. August 24, 2011 2:27 pm

    What a wonderful opportunity – I’m glad it worked out so well for Siena!

  6. August 24, 2011 3:01 pm

    My book, THE LAST SNAKE RUNNER, was published by Random House a few years ago and I’ve actually sat in front of those gorgeous shelves in the lobby, too! It is an AMAZING sight, and I was so excited I was teary-eyed!

    Sounds like you had a wonderful summer and experience, Siena! I’ll look forward to seeing where you land in the children’s publishing world! Good luck to you!

  7. Bobbie permalink
    August 24, 2011 5:27 pm

    Thank you, Siena for being such a wonderful and important asset to our team this summer!

  8. Alex R. permalink
    August 24, 2011 5:36 pm

    Siena, YOU ROCK. Life holds great things for the future. I hope we cross paths once the secons ASHES book is pubbed…We will need to have a SERIOUS talk.

  9. April 17, 2013 11:06 pm

    Fantastic website you have here but I was curious about if you knew of any discussion boards that cover the same topics discussed in this article?

    I’d really like to be a part of online community where I can get suggestions from other knowledgeable individuals that share the same interest. If you have any suggestions, please let me know. Thanks!

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