Category Archives: Lunch & Learn

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.

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The Intern Life


Jill Weiss

I landed the World Languages Intern position after three rigorous and challenging interviews.  I had always known about Pearson, since most of my high school textbooks had the Pearson symbol on them and I knew they owned subsidiaries of other large companies, including Prentice Hall.  When I first heard that I got the position, I was thrilled! In this economy, not only is it extremely competitive to get an internship or job for the summer, but the fact that this internship was paid was fantastic.  Also, as an English major, I’ve always wanted to explore this industry and get a taste of what it is like to work in publishing.

Immediately upon my arrival at the office, I was greeted by my co-workers, who have helped me so much throughout my time at Pearson.  Whenever I have a question or inquiry, they are always there to help immediately. My second day at work, I immediately became apart of what I consider Pearson’s “digital revolution.”  My first project consisted of hot-spotting five foreign language textbooks.  Hot-spotting entails documenting and creating links on Microsoft Excel spreadsheets to make videos, icons, and words clickable on Pearson’s online MyLanguageLabs.  Not only did I have to include links, but I also had to indicate on Excel where certain words and videos needed to be placed on the page.  On average, I would say for each textbook I had close to 1700 rows that were labeled on Excel.  For my largest text I had over 3600 columns.

While at first I was a bit flustered by my assignment, with the help of my project manager, I was able to get through the process very smoothly.  As I was doing this project, I was also meeting with various people for lunches to gain a sense of what other employees at Pearson do on a daily basis.  Some of the people I met with included employees from the Human Resource Management Department and the Marketing department, who gave me extremely useful advice about their fields and their own career paths.  I have always had an interest in both Human Resource Management and Marketing, so I figured it would be great to meet with people who were highly trained in those fields.

Currently, I am working on a Photography Research project, where I am helping to update older images in Spanish textbooks.   I am looking forward to working on my upcoming marketing project, where the World Languages Marketing Assistant and I are going to organize the information she has about which schools currently do not use Pearson textbooks, which we will give to the Project Specialists to target these schools for the upcoming National Sales Meeting.

One of the major skills I have acquired in this position is that I’ve learned how important it is to ask questions in a corporate environment.  At first, I was a bit timid and did not know if I was creating a burden on people by asking them if the work I was doing was correct.  I’ve learned though that there really are no ridiculous questions and in any job, by asking questions, you are making sure that you are completing your assignment correctly.  This internship has also helped me become adept with important programs, including Microsoft Excel. Any of these skills and programs can be used in a corporate environment, which is another great perk of being a Pearson Intern.

What I personally love most about this internship is that I’ve been exposed to every division within the company.   While I have primarily worked on editorial and marketing projects, I have become familiar with parts of production and sales.  I have an amazing mentor who has helped me grow so much and I look forward to my endeavors with Pearson this summer!

Privacy in a Public Domain


Michael Barbara

The movie “The Social Network” shed a lot of light on the intentions of The Social NetworkFacebook: taking the entire social experience of college and putting it online. Mark Zuckerberg knew that college students wanted to be able relive that crazy party that they attended over the weekend at any given time, and Facebook was a tool to let you do just that.  Better yet, since Facebook was originally restricted to Harvard-only students, you could do this within the privacy of your personal ‘social network.’ However, the exclusivity that Facebook once thrived on is no more – this is becoming more evident as the internet company has grown into a global powerhouse. What we, as college students, often don’t realize is the wide variety of people that have created accounts – it’s no longer only our peers who are on Facebook. With over 750 million active users there are many potential employers that now have a public window to our once private world.

At our weekly intern meeting, Eric Severson, Pearson’s Senior VP of East Coast Sales for Higher Education, warned us of the repercussions that our online life can have. He put it the best when he said that, “Employees are an investment.”

Eric Severson

Eric Severson

We often don’t realize the associated costs, in both time and money, in hiring a new employee.  When investing in something that can have consequences for years to come, and can cost a lot of money, employers are going to take all factors into consideration – including the way a potential employee presents him or herself to the world via social media.

One may argue (as one of my co-interns did) that it isn’t really fair for employers to look at these private pages. And to that I put forth the question: does it really matter? Aren’t most of us brought up hearing the expression “Life isn’t fair”? Once we get to the critical point of hiring and firing people I believe that we should also take into consideration every resource at our disposal to determine the character of a potential employee, and this is exactly what our employers will be doing by looking at our Facebook profiles.

I caution current and future college students: EVERYTHING you do these days is put under a microscope. Would you really want to lose out on a great opportunity just because there is a picture of you playing a drinking game? I didn’t think so. I strongly encourage every intern, and college student, to take the time to your review your Facebook pages, Twitter posts, and even MySpace photos (if you still have one). Make sure there is nothing that would make an employer throw your application in the garbage. You never know – what you portray on Facebook could drastically change the outcome of your life.

A Passion for Pearson


Kari Leibowitz

My first two lunch & learn sessions for Pearson interns (read: free food) highlighted one of the company’s best assets: employees who love their jobs.  Even though the speakers came from two different departments and spoke about entirely different subjects, they both talked about their work with a contagious excitement and an intense passion.  The enthusiasm for their careers and for Pearson itself was palpable in the conference room, and while the day to day activities of Brandy and David are totally different, love for their jobs unites them as Pearson employees.

I liked Brandy Dawson right away – she’s exactly the kind of fun and happy adult who makes me think, “I want to be like that when I grow up.”  She’s petite, has dark hair, and radiates an energy that wakes up the whole room.  I supposed it’s this energy that makes her so good at her job.  As Pearson Education’s Vice President and Director of Marketing, Brandy is in charge of the big-picture of Pearson’s marketing, so it’s lucky that she has a personality large enough to handle it.

David Alick is a former science teacher, which came across loud and clear in his

David Alick

David Alick

presentation.  Interns answering his questions elicited shouts of “Yes! Right answer!” and during our learning activity David responded to questions of “Can we do it this way?” with an enigmatic “Well that’s an interesting idea…”  David is reminiscent of the fun uncle you call when you find an awesome new website or have a computer problem.  As Pearson’s Senior Digital Media Editor, David oversees some of Pearson’s most interesting products in Higher Education – like video games that supplement textbook material.

Both Brandy and David had somewhat unusual beginnings at Pearson.  Brandy is a history major who spent time selling yellow page ads to business.  She recalled how her stomach would sink every time she used her charm and intelligence to sell a larger ad to someone whose company truly didn’t need one.  After switching to on-campus sales of Pearson textbooks, she felt that instead of peddling a product, she was now solving problems for professors and students alike, and she’s been at Pearson ever since.  David was a high school science teacher frustrated with an education system that focused more on students’ test scores than actual learning.  With no foreseeable way to change the school system as a teacher, David came to Pearson to make educational technologies that would help students learn for the long-term instead of for a grade.

Challenges exist for both Brandy and David.  Brandy described the difficult conversations she has with authors and editors when one product appears to get a larger portion of the marketing budget than another.  David talked about the obstacles to getting professors who don’t use anything but Powerpoint in the classroom to adopt digital media as a learning tool.

Despite these complications, Brandy and David have been at Pearson for years and show no signs of leaving. Maybe that’s because they have an intense belief in what they do, and they come to work brimming with excitement at the thought of making a difference in modern education.  Brandy described her job as “motivating and exciting” the people who work with her in order to market Pearson’s products in new and innovative ways, while David said his job is to “make the professor look like a rock star in front of the class.”  You can tell that rather than dreading Monday mornings, these two are genuinely happy to be at work, which makes me really happy to be an intern here, because the part that comes after the internship is finding the dreaded job, and if I get to intern at a place where the people around me are loving what they do, maybe some day I, too, can find a career with Pearson that I love.