Julie Candio Sekel
It was the first week of my internship at Pearson and I was returning to my desk after lunch with two fellow interns in my department. As we laughed about whether or not we knew how to navigate through the maze of cubicles and slew of semi-familiar faces we would grow to identify easily over the next eight weeks, I bid my new acquaintances farewell with a confident head bob and a simple, “I know the way.”
I cut straight through the center aisle, hardly slowing my step, and streamlined for the back wall where I knew I had to make a left to be back at my desk. Just as I turned the corner, however, I jolted back from the utter embarrassment that there, at the end of my aisle, were the two other interns, who actually did know where they were going, which was nowhere near my desired location. Quickly observing the pantry close by, I couldn’t help but smile as I held up an empty bag and said, “I, uh, forgot I had to go put these things back in the fridge.”
In week one of my internship at Pearson, I was an ant scurrying about my ant farm in sheer confusion, merely trying to endure 6:30AM wakeups during my summer vacation and having to be that person who couldn’t go out on weeknights with friends because I had a “big girl job.” In week one I sang praises to the heavens after simply surviving my first meeting with the VP & Director of Marketing in Social Sciences and Arts, while I observed another intern’s high comfort level that allowed him to ask her if he could grab a Red Bull from her mini fridge. It was in week one that I obtained a stack of paperwork on my desk that was double the size of any textbook I would be writing about, and in week one I returned home on Friday with a plain “I’m going to be the palest person ever this summer,” in response to the question of how I sized up the job.
Weeks later I must report that I have full color in my cheeks and I’ve seen the sun every single day. Not only do I sit outside at lunch with the other interns on many occasions, but I’ve also learned how to separate my work from my life as a college student outside of this internship. I must admit that this has been the most challenging part, with a long list of books and deadlines for e-catalog copy that needs to be written and uploaded, but I’ve learned to make it work.
The most notable thing about the Pearson program is that they don’t give their interns petty tasks, which is what causes me to be so engulfed in my work here. Instead of making countless copies, we are given projects and provided with the tools we need to successfully complete them. When I answer relatives who inquire about my job description, I am always met with an overly positive, yet surprised, response. Although I know my qualifications for the job, I did not expect to function at such a high level of active participation solely because I had believed all internship programs were homogenous in their ideals and expectations.
Believe me when I say Pearson is not the rule: it’s the exception. Pearson is invested in our futures, which is evident on a daily basis through assessments
that provide us with feedback, workshops organized by the company, and supervisors who are always ready to assist us. And I like to think that our relationship is reciprocal: we too feel wholeheartedly invested in the continuing excellence of the global leaders in the publishing industry. We strive to overcome their obstacles, take pride in their successes, and even enjoy their complimentary lunch goodies, indicating another week has passed in our program.
Although I often feel my personal happiness derives from having a full stomach, I must admit this isn’t even the best part. One of my favorite aspects of this internship is the amount of independence we are afforded. We are not grouped together as a whole on a daily basis, but are integrated into the company’s daily routines and meetings, which often means working self-sufficiently like most employees, yet we still maintain communication with our mentors. We are not “babied” or “micromanaged” or made to feel inferior, but are treated like adults, which offers further validity of my “big girl job” when discussing it with others.
While my friends may not suspect it, this “big girl job” comes with enjoyment as well. Since I’ve been here, I’ve been invited to join my department’s softball team, shared many meals with peers, basked in the beauty of flex schedule Fridays, and raised my own virtual child in Pearson’s interactive online learning lab. Other interns have shared these experiences, openly venting with one another when our virtual teenagers ran away with their boyfriends to get tattoos or when we got into fights with our virtual husbands in front of the children.
The bottom line is that Pearson provides us with resources to delve into our program with a good attitude and strong structure of support, all while allowing us to incorporate our own fresh and fun ideas. When we complete trials, such as MyVirtualChild, Pearson asks for our questions and opinions; they ask for our input on such a regular basis, yet it always seems to astonish me. Pearson ensures the curiosity we had as children does not get lost or turn into lethargy, but translates into our becoming inquiring skeptics as adults.
After my six weeks here I’ve come to realize we are no longer the ants trying to navigate through the halls and sea of faces. We can be comfortable enough to weed through that gigantic stack of papers, respond thoughtfully in our intern workshops and focus groups, and even ask for that Red Bull from a higher authority. Now we can confidently say “I know the way,” and it doesn’t pertain to our office destination, but to the path we will take as leaders into our educational and professional careers as a result of our time at Pearson.