Arts and Sciences Career Services, Networking, and My Internship with Penguin Random House

0393_14_064.jpgby Melissa Lucía Sarmiento

I cannot put into words how much stress I felt when I began to think about summer internships as a college freshman. As a history and German major, I was genuinely panicking, thinking that my skills would not measure up in an increasingly competitive job market.

It was around this time, just when I thought that I was going to spend an exciting summer at home with my parents in suburban Florida, that someone recommended that I stopped by Arts and Sciences Career Services. This is basically how I learned that Arts and Sciences Career Services existed. I immediately made an appointment, and that same day I was exposed to a myriad of resources that were immediately available to me to help me find summer internships in various areas.

That was my first of many meetings with a career adviser, and from it I got my first internship: I did end up going back home my first summer, but I had an internship with the local PBS branch in Miami. I was very appreciative of this opportunity, and I learned a lot about the world of non-profit television. However, I also learned that it was not necessarily a field I wanted to pursue.

As a sophomore, I started my internship search much sooner (I failed to mention that as a freshman, I decided to apply to internships in April… and I still found one!), and this time I made sure that I took full advantage of absolutely every resource offered by Arts and Sciences Career Services. I was able to meet with a Cornell alumnus who is now an editor for the Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House, and thanks to this I am currently interning for one of Penguin Random House’s Spanish imprints: Vintage español.

Yes, I know. This is not a good picture of the Penguin Random House building; it's  just a really tall building that I couldn't fit into my lens. But look at how nice it is!

Yes, I know. This is not a good picture of the Penguin Random House building; it’s just a really tall building that I couldn’t fit into my lens. But look at how nice it is!

Although I can honestly say that I do not want to live in New York City, I can also say that this internship has been great: working for one of the smaller imprints has taught me about several aspects of the publishing industry, ranging from design to sales. I have had the chance to read manuscripts and share my opinion on whether or not they should be published, and I have done translations for books that will be coming to the market soon. I also manage multiple social media accounts, promoting works by prestigious authors including as Paulo Coelho, John Green, and Gabriel García Márquez.

At Vintage español, there are only two employees beside myself, so I really feel like I am making a difference and that I am part of a team. The people I work with are incredibly nice and always willing to answer my questions and help me when I need it.

It is an unpaid internship. However, once I was offered the position, I was able to find funding through Entrepreneurship at Cornell, which gave me a stipend for the summer, without which I would have not been able to stay in the city.


Perhaps one of the coolest perks of this internship is that I get an unlimited amount of free books, in various languages by very famous authors. Fun fact: there are four piles of books there, not just two!

Through this process, I learned several useful life lessons:

Your major does not matter: the skills you gain when you are in college, ranging from critical thinking to excellent writing are what really matters when you are trying to find a job. Trust me on this one: my background is as liberal arts as it gets.

Go to Arts and Sciences Career Services every semester. If you need help writing a resume, a cover letter, finding an internship, a job, or figuring out what to major in (and I know that you need help in at least one of these things), you need to come to this office. It will save you a lot of time, panic, and stress when summer breaks and graduation come!

Don’t be afraid to talk to alumni. I have this internship because one of the career advisors introduced me to the editor at Knopf. At first, I was hesitant to talk to him. However, he was incredibly helpful, offered to forward my resume to the hiring manager, and, above all, incredibly happy to be able to mentor a fellow Cornellian.

Explore your resources: You never know where there might be available funding, so don’t let geography or the words “unpaid internship” be the deciding factor.

Don’t limit yourself: try new fields, because you never know what you will like and how much you will learn in just one summer!

If you wish to learn more about Arts and Sciences Career Services, please visit them here, and don’t hesitate to make an appointment! To learn more about Entrepreneurship at Cornell, please visit their very nice website here.

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