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 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.


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.

Pre-Internship Jitters

Kari Leibowitz

My internship with Pearson started, officially, on June 24, 2011, at 9:00 AM in the offices of Upper Saddle River, NJ.  Unofficially, it started months ago, as I began to lose sleep over finding the perfect summer internship – one that paid, was in a field I found interesting, and was close to my home at the Jersey Shore.  What do I want to be when I grow up?  No idea.  But there are two things I’ve always loved: people and books.  I frantically scoured the websites of publishing companies looking for internship programs.

 Then, like a sign from the heavens, I noticed that my university’s career center was hosting Melanie Tantingco, College Relations Specialist for Pearson.  I rushed over to listen to the presentation in a room that had too many students and too few chairs.  Apparently Pearson was very popular, but the only thing I knew about the company was that it made the books I’d been trying to cram into my head for the past two years.

Then, Melanie played the video.  The backwards/forwards assumptions/truths of our generation video (see below).  I was hooked.  Pearson totally got me.  Suddenly, I couldn’t imagine working anywhere else.  Here was a company making a difference in the world, a company that I could really believe in, a company that would make me feel like I was doing a little bit of good by helping educate the world in my own small way.

Next came the application – sweating over making my résumé look perfect and my cover letter flawless.  Getting an e-mail asking for a phone interview and agonizing because if I didn’t answer that e-mail RIGHT AWAY to say I was available to interview ANY TIME certainly someone else would snatch up my coveted internship.

 I left the phone interview feeling uncertain, having spent the whole conversation unfoundedly paranoid that my phone would die or that a random frat boy on campus would some how penetrate the zone of quiet I had created for the interview and yell something obscene.  Yet I made it through the interview unscathed and without incident, and two weeks later the job was mine.  I breathed a gigantic sigh of relief at the knowledge I wouldn’t spend the whole summer at home cleaning out closets or wasting away in front of the TV.

 Then there was the wardrobe issue.  My closet is decidedly college student:

Modeling my new blazer

sorority t-shirts and low-cut dresses.  I raced to the outlets (thank you, Jersey) and bought a pair of dress slacks and two blazers in the hopes of converting some of my floral-print dresses to grown-up work outfits.  Armed with these big-girl clothes, I was as ready as I’d ever be.

The pressure on college students to land the right internship, excel, and get the perfect job can be overwhelming.  I think my supervisor, Kathy, who is so sweet, would have a heart attack if she knew half the anxiety I encountered preparing for this internship.  But I’ve spent over a week at Pearson now, and all that anxiety seems far behind me.  Everyone is welcoming and gentle, and no one has sat me down (yet) to tell me that I’m not fooling anybody with these blazers and I better learn to walk in heels if I want to really look professional.  The pre-internship jitters I had were checked at the door the first time I met Kathy, and now I realize I put myself through the anxiety of finding the ‘perfect’ internship so that once I got here I would feel right at home.  Welcome to Pearson.