This is the end of my third summer at Scholastic Inc., as an intern/apprentice working in the Library and Archive department, and with each year I’ve learned something that I’ll carry with me always. Over the three summers of working at Scholastic Inc., I’ve had the chance to attend important meetings, meet interesting and very important people, work on various important projects and overall contribute to the company in ways I didn’t believe an intern would be able to.
My first season coming into this internship, an opportunity that I discovered thanks to Lindsey Cotter, SVP of Human Resources, I had no idea what I’d be doing except that I’d be working in the Corporate Library. I assumed I’d be doing “intern work” such as getting coffee, shelving books, looking at pointless excel sheets and over all doing a lot of busy work. When I first meet Deimosa Webber-Bey, head librarian, she gave me a tour of the company, the library, and the large archive which holds every printed Scholastic Inc. book and magazine. The following days I was attending important meetings in which my input was asked for and listened to and given actual projects that would be utilized in the company after the summer was over. Not once did I have to go on coffee runs.
Coming into season 2 at Scholastic, I could tell I was going to have another great summer working in the Library. In the summer of 2017 the Scholastic headquarters were going through huge renovations. One of the main projects that I got to be a part of that summer was helping out with the design of the new library and the design of the lobby area. My favorite part of that summer was working with a group of ~40 students that came to visit Scholastic that year from China. It was so cool helping the children learn how to make crafts and hear them refer to me as ‘Teacher’.
This second summer I also allowed myself to be open to new experiences. Normally, my summers would include working, going to practice and catching up on sleep that I missed out on during the school year. That routine allowed for me to stay sectioned off in one part of New York City. Taking the advice from Deimosa, I set out to expand my circle of influence and experience different parts of the city. Surprising as it may be, growing up in downtown Manhattan I can count on one hand how many times I’ve been to Harlem and Queens. Making friends with some of the interns that year, I was able to visit parts of the city that I have lived in my entire life in, but hadn’t experienced before. I also got into very deep conversations about feminism working with and learning from the amazing women in this office: Lindsey Cotter, Lynnette Spence, the “headhuntress” (Sr. Director, Talent Acquisition, and the leader of the internship program), Karen VanRossem, Sr. Information Specialist, and Deimosa Webber-Bey, Sr. Librarian. When I returned to school last fall, I took a Women’s Gender Studies class – where I was the only guy in the room.
This final, third season, everything is coming full circle. I’m working in the Library department again and, because I was promoted from the internship program to being an apprentice, I have a little more responsibility. I’m implementing the library skills that I picked up, answering reference questions for the interns and stepping up as a leader. At the same time, I am trying to figure out what my next step in life will be. Will I come back to Scholastic or will I go out into the world and see what else is out there? The deeper question is – why did I keep coming back? Other than the fact that I was invited to, I truly enjoy the working environment that Scholastic provides. Being able to meet and work with truly spectacular people, from my first summer at Scholastic up until now, and have those people genuinely want success for you – whether you will eventually have a career at the company or not – is an amazing feeling.
So as I leave Scholastic for my final year of college, I wanted to sit down with some of the interns working this year and talk to them about their feelings regarding what it’s like to be a millennial, working at Scholastic and where their experiences here will lead them. I wanted to do this because I have some fears and questions as to what I will be doing after college and how I will be incorporating myself into the world. With the help of Suzanne McCabe, an Editor in Corporate Communications and host of the Scholastic Reads podcast, we had an open discussion about being a millennial, future hopes for our careers and what we take away from Scholastic. Looking over my notes, three distinct themes emerged.
As millennials, we are usually defined by our familiarity with and use of technology. One of the interns, Tabitha Wilson, an Economics major from Wellesley College interning in the Data and Analytics department, brought up a great point about having “memories tied to the internet.” We have grown up with everything recorded and uploaded in an instant because of social media platforms. Jas Perry, an aspiring author and editor transferring from NYU to Hunter College, interning for Arthur A. Levine Books, talked about how technology and these social media platforms allow for millennials to have more and better communication and be more adaptable:
“The thing that is allowing for all this progress is accessibility for communication. A lot that’s been going on has been going on for a very long time; it’s just that people couldn’t really talk about it because there was no platform to. So now that we do have that, as long as we utilize that to the best of our abilities and take advantage of the way we have to speak to each other, I think Scholastic is very good at adapting and is on the right track.”
With all that being said, Diana D. Correia, graduate of Syracuse University working in the Digital Marketing department, went on to talk about the high expectations that we millennials have for technology, such as that all web content should be mobile friendly. I know that I am constantly on my phone, it is how I access most of my information.
We also talked about how work culture will have to evolve to fit the emerging millennial work force. Tabitha shared that much of the work she does at the internship is done on a computer or laptop, and she would feel more comfortable and productive if she could work from home or in her favorite coffee shop, not having to commute all five workdays of the week. David Rosenstein, an intern working in the Trade division at Klutz, attending the University of Maryland, went on to praise the Scholastic Inc. mission and credo, and offered specific examples of ways to improve organizational efficiency to meet the needs of millennials. He explained that our generation wants to believe in a company’s mission and enjoy their place of work, all while having new ways of working:
“To me, being a millennial means everything is new, different, fresh, original, and efficient. Everything is about saving time maximizing productivity and do things differently that don’t look conservative, or that don’t look like they would work at the end of the day, but going off research - it does.”
Fear of the Unknown
Finally, I got to share with this group my fear of the unknown. What’s next? What happens after college? Diana agreed that there is a lot of free time after college, especially if you don’t have a job right after, you end up being afraid of wasting all the free time. You feel like you should be doing something productive:
“When I graduated things became more real, like not having a schedule. And so it’s a lot, K-12 and then college there is a structure and a schedule, and then once you graduate you don’t have that. Figuring that out is definitely a big thing.”
We all agreed that free time is scary!
Derek Cordero, a finance major at Baruch College working in the Education department, commenting on this, pointed out that you can’t be afraid of jumping into the fray. One of our best Lunch & Learns was led by some of Scholastic’s finest - Greg Worrell, President of Scholastic Education, Michael Haggen, Chief Academic Officer, and Janelle Cherrington, SVP of Education - and they talked about their journey to Scholastic. They all accomplished and experienced so much, taking so many risks, that I wondered how I can get from here to where they are in the span of my lifetime. Their answer was to learn to see opportunity in whatever form it comes and to not be afraid to try new things.
Three summers at Scholastic and I feel like I was just scratching the surface. Should come back for a fourth season and see what else I can absorb from this amazing company? There are so many paths I can chose to follow: pursue my degree in psychology and become a children’s therapist, become a coach in my favorite sport (fencing), write a book and contribute to the diversity of stories out there or possibly go to library school and come back to Scholastic and work with Deimosa full-time. I guess I have to just wait for the next opportunity to present itself and jump into the fray.
Zaheer Booth is a senior at CUNY Hunter College, where he is majoring in psychology and captain of the Men's Fencing team.