In addition to our regular Q&A features, we will also be sharing some longer stories about our PENCIL interns.
The first features Samantha Diaz, who recently spoke to us about her internship at Penguin Random House. Samantha’s position came about because she was a student in our PENCIL Internship Program as part of the Ladders for Leaders Program, in partnership with the NYC Department of Youth & Community. Thanks for sharing, Samantha!
Name: Samantha Diaz
Year: College junior
School: CUNY City College of New York
When she recalls her first day, Samantha describes it in two words: insightful and exciting. As Samantha oriented herself in the office, the editorial team warmly welcomed her while her supervisor enthusiastically answered any questions she had. “The editors there are so passionate…that it inspired me to learn as much as I could about the editorial field of publishing,” she says.
When Samantha used to think about interns, she imagined people who ran errands or purchased coffee. They were certainly not the ones who contributed significantly to daily processes of the business. But this wasn’t the case at Penguin Random House, she found. Her perception of interns began to change, realizing that, “being an intern means being part of a team that wants you to grow professionally and individually.” Samantha learned to be proactive and make the most of the opportunities that arose. In editorial meetings, she was encouraged to speak up. She began volunteering to read submitted manuscripts, assured by one of the chief editors that her opinions were valued.
Over the course of that summer, she was thrilled to gain hands-on experience working with those who have been in the publishing industry for years. Asked about her most memorable moment in the internship, she speaks about working with an editor on a new project: “I had the chance to read the manuscript…and speak with the author about my thoughts [on it]. It was amazing to be able to witness the beginning stages…and see how a book is shaped and polished before it is ever seen by readers.”
She also learned about the other important roles that she had never before considered . Though her interest was always in editorial work, interactions with interns and professionals in other departments provided insight into all of the work that goes into the publication process.
Looking back on the experience now, she recognizes how PENCIL set her up for success and supported her ambitions: “[It] aided me by teaching me how to network, write professional and well-written resumes, what to do in an interview, and land the internship of my dreams.” It is, “an opportunity for students to learn how to navigate and succeed in the professional world.” In all, she says, “being a part of the PENCIL program has made me more optimistic about future opportunities.”