Category Archives: Intern bonding

Big Girl Job


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 ant farmmy 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

USR Interns

USR Interns at Lunch & Learn Session

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 Softballwell. 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.

Intern Bonding


Jillian Barwick

The life of an intern can be extremely busy, crazy, hectic, messy, scattered, and, well, you get the point. This can leave said intern without time in the day to even think for his or herself, let alone make friends with fellow interns and co-workers. There are some cases where an intern may be the only summer intern in the entire office. Lucky for us interns at Pearson in Upper Saddle River, New Jersey, this is not the case.  We have a group of fifteen bubbly interns with ecstatic-to-work-mentalities to collaborate with on a daily basis.

Having so many people around you that share the same internship jitters makes working for such a big company more relaxing and fun. I have some friends who have intense summer internships for uptight companies who either have no time to make friends with other interns or are the only intern in their office, making it difficult to bond with people who work there year-round.  I even have a friend who ended up eating lunch alone for several weeks, reminiscent of Lindsay Lohan’s scene in “Mean Girls” where she eats lunch in a bathroom stall.

At Pearson, we have a great, established summer intern program, set up so that you will never have to fear eating your sandwich alone in the bathroom. Since there is a large group of us interns, we established an “intern thread” through our Pearson e-mail accounts. This thread is used for brainstorming and bouncing ideas off of each other, checking in with one another, and planning dates and times of lunch outings or dinner get-togethers.

Christie and her sippy cup

Christie and her sippy cup

This past Thursday, we scheduled an intern dinner after work at Houlihan’s for some nice, relaxing quality time outside of the office. It was excellent!  Hanging out with fellow interns was a ton of fun. Conversation never stopped at our table of 15. With a large and rambunctious group, it is sometimes hard to get a word in, but we all took time to listen to everyone else. We all laughed when Christie was given a kiddy cup with a lid on it after she spilled her first drink almost immediately, and I really think the waiter enjoyed our large group, that is until we needed to split the check – oops! After the check was paid, the group gathered out front of the restaurant and documented our wondrous outing with a group photo!  

It is really spectacular that we all get along so well. Seeing the same people day in and day out for about eight weeks can be tough if you are not fond of each other. We are extremely lucky that our personalities have clicked and meshed so well together. It makes lunching together every day hilarious when we talk about random Harry Potter fun facts, Youtube videos, or current events.

No matter what the discussion happens to be, having a fun, energetic group of

The Upper Saddle River Interns at Houlihan's

The Upper Saddle River Interns at Houlihan's

interns means there will always be a great time when it’s spent together. From crazy lunch stories, to what’s happening in the news via “intern thread” or where our next outing will take place, we, as Pearson interns, are “Always Learning” new things about ourselves and each other.

Lucked Out


Marc Phillips

I will come right out and say it – I was an internship addict. I spent countless hours between November 2010 and May 2011 researching, applying to, and following-up with summer 2011 internships. Can we just say that I had an entire Firefox bookmark folder dedicated to internships?

During the springtime – internship application season – I would refresh SimplyHired.com and my college’s employment database twice a day. Sometimes I was lucky, other times, I was not: every Monday there would be a new batch of promising internships to apply for, but many times I would only find scam or recycled job posts.

Last night I was feeling nostalgic about sending out cover letters and resumes – bizarre, I know – but I counted how many applications I sent out. The number was 55. I submitted at least 55 sets of documents, not even counting some internships I applied to out of desperation in an online fill-in-the-blank fashion. Pearson was always my first choice, but just like with college applications, it’s never smart to apply only to one place. I applied to other publishing companies, advertising agencies, and marketing firms, all of which varied in size since I am still trying to find the environment I’m most comfortable in.

I suppose much of my anxiety stemmed from not hearing back from Pearson until the end of April and early May. I knew Pearson was special – it had a highly-regarded internship program unlike some other companies I applied to, and I really wanted to work there, but by April all of my friends received their summer internship offers or had their fathers call in favors. I am an incredibly determined person, so the thought of not getting an internship on my own merit made me angry. “I’m more qualified for a job than he is,” I said. As you can guess, I went through my bitter phase. Those who were setup with an internship emphasized the importance of networking, but we all know there’s a difference between networking and “Dad making a few calls.”

I would describe Pearson’s interview process as rigorous – I had seven interviews before being hired. At the time, I saw it as more of a hindrance, but now I completely understand; Pearson only hires the most qualified interns. Each interview helps Human Resources narrow the applicant pool and hire the best interns for each department. My co-interns are student leaders, honors students, budding writers, and all-around diligent workers. The chemistry we share is due in part to similar campus experiences.

Me at lunch

Me at lunch

Most interns eat lunch everyday on the patio. You would be hard-pressed to find us not laughing or talking about food. Yes, we all love food, and some of us bring in lunch treats for everyone. (We’re secretly still high schoolers!)

So, a few months later, I am now typing this from my own office at Pearson. I am a paid intern, and my commute is between 15 and 20 minutes by car. The office has half-days on Fridays during the summer months. Every week, we have intern-specific meetings about sales, marketing, media, editorials, and overall management. Best of all, my co-workers in the Health Sciences and Careers division treat me with dignity. I’m not “the intern,” but rather an employee who is given independent projects ranging from social media engagement to interviewing college professors. I am able to take credit for my work, and will be referenced for my contributions long after the internship ends. I hope to make the most of my time at Pearson and help affect positive change in my department. I want to be remembered as the intern who created an effective social media strategy for Pearson’s Brady Books. I want to reach out to students and educators alike, forge a relationship, and facilitate a conversation.