A career journey into Publishing: How project management meets the creative sector

We kickstart our events week with a blog from Emily Large, Recruitment Programmes & Outreach Advisor at Penguin Random House UK. Emily, an alumna with an English Literature Master of Arts from the University of Edinburgh, exemplifies the diverse array of opportunities available in the creative sector. Her career trajectory demonstrates that the realm of creativity extends beyond traditional roles.  

Read on to be inspired! 

A bit about me… 

I currently work as a Programmes & Outreach Advisor at Penguin Random House UK, and whilst my job isn’t working on books, I love being a part of a creative company. I started studying at the University of Edinburgh nearly ten years ago, and like many others at 18, I couldn’t have predicted I’d end up working where I am now!  

I grew up in Kilburn, Northwest London, and was a first-generation uni student. I was part of a programme at school which was called ‘Higher Education Access programme’. My school had low attainment to university, but my grades showed potential. Through the guidance on this programme and securing the grades I needed, I ended up getting a place at the University of Edinburgh, and I’m so thankful looking back. I studied English Literature and I remember that initial sense of imposter syndrome in rooms full of people who were incredibly articulate and confident. I learnt over my four years at the University the value of my experience, and studying there increased my passion for access to education, and diversity and inclusion. I was lucky enough to be on a scholarship, whilst also working around four days a week in a range of education-related settings. One career-defining moment was when I worked as a student mentor for the Lothians Equal Access Programme for Schools (LEAPS), where I led a group of S4 students on a residential trip for a week, with the aim to break down perceived barriers to higher education. 

The experience I built working in education access whilst a student, and how much I enjoyed my English degree, meant I was unsure of whether to go into something books or education related when I graduated. I moved back to London and secured a role with Teach First, an education charity committed to creating a fair education for all. My role was to coordinate programmes for those interested in going into teaching. I learnt from an incredible team and quickly progressed into a role leading these programmes. I then completed a Project Management apprenticeship and moved onto a more technical transformation project, which was a great learning experience. The move into more traditional project management made me realise I missed the ‘people’ element of my job, and when, around a year and a half ago, I saw my current role advertised, it seemed like the perfect role for my experience and passion for access, diversity and inclusion. 

My role at Penguin Random House UK 

At Penguin, I manage our emerging talent recruitment programmes, which focus on under-represented groups. Publishing, as many of you will know, is an incredibly competitive industry to get into, and these programmes act as an entry point for those under-represented in the industry. Although they aren’t the only way to gain access to publishing roles, they are great initiatives and I’m proud that we have these at Penguin. In 2023, I proposed we shift our internships eligibility to be open to only those from lower socio-economic backgrounds – a great step and one we’re continuing this year.  

As well as working on these programmes, I’ve been working on our outreach strategy to improve understanding of different roles across Penguin and reaching different audiences. My experience of being on these kinds of programmes and the different job roles I’ve had over the last ten years have given me a real passion for creating change within creative industries, which historically have been viewed as inaccessible. 

My advice about getting into the exciting world of publishing  

You might have gotten to the end of this article because you’re interested in working in publishing, and my top piece of advice would be to keep your mind open to what that looks like. A lot of people think editorial is the only job they’d want to work in, when in reality there is such a huge range of roles that you may be interested in, such as roles in Marketing, Technology and Human Resources. Our careers site offers helpful information on the various teams at Penguin, including recruitment resources that might answer your questions about applying for roles.  

My career path has been a less traditional route into working in the creative industry, but hopefully my experience shows how there’s not one route into careers these days – and careers being a bit ‘squiggly’ can help you to gain tons of helpful experience! 

Thank you, Emily. 

You can explore the exciting and varied world of Publishing on our website. 

We’re delighted to have showcased Emily’s career journey into Publishing today… Look out for our next #EdCreativeCareers guest blog coming soon. 


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