2016/17 Pearson Student Advisory Board alumni, Eleanor Grace Preece, blogs on being part of the PSAB experience. Eleanor talks about the projects and opportunities and how PSAB will benefit her search for a graduate job.
Do you want to apply for the Pearson Student Advisory Board? Find out more about the board and apply here: www.pearson.com/psab
Before you meet everyone (June-September)
After being told I had been accepted onto the board in June the next four weeks were pretty quiet, in July we were all introduced to each other via email and we were told the next steps. The first being a conference meeting in London! These are the most amazing offices you will ever see, you go high up in the building and if you go outside on the balconies you get an amazing view of London, you can see Big Ben, the London eye and then on the other side you can see all the amazing buildings such as the gherkin.
Conference one (September)
So, in September I travelled down to London from Yorkshire and this was where I met the rest of the board. In the two days we were down there, it was intense, we did so much with so many different people. One of the most amazing experiences I’ve had was meeting Rod Bristow (the president of Pearson), he sat down with us all and had a chat with us about what we thought and he really cared about our input. That for me, is one of the most rewarding things about being a part of PSAB, a huge company like Pearson actually care and listen and they really do take on everything you say on board (this will be discussed a little bit more later on). On the second day this is where we met our mentors who would work with us throughout the year. We were also split into two groups and we were both assigned different projects that we were going to be working on over the first semester.
It isn’t all work though, on the night you are taken out for dinner and this is a great chance to really get to know your peers and Pearson colleagues, after dinner we went to The Coal Hole and had a really fantastic night.
Your first team project (September-January, semester 1)
During the first semester of university, my team and I were assigned a project on enhanced eBooks, we had a team leader who is a Pearson employee, we are working on real life projects and this is their day to day work, everything we do makes an impact, it really does!
During the project you work both in your team and alone. By working in a team this entails having regular Skype conference calls, group chats and shared documents and by working on your own a lot of this is research based so you’ll be having interviews with people, testing new Pearson products (that’s really cool) and relaying your findings.
One thing that I know I was worried about was how much time this would take alongside my studies, but this isn’t something to worry about at all, I’d say on average it will take up two hours of your week, sometimes less.
Conference two (January)
For conference two, we went to Harlow which is predominantly a printing press town and we went to the offices there, again they were amazing offices. The main aim of this conference however, is for both teams to present their findings from the projects to numerous different Pearson employees. This is a really good chance to present in front of senior members of staff and learn a lot from what they can feedback to you. After the presentations again, we were taken out for a meal and had a lovely catch up with everyone involved.
On the second day we were off in our groups again to be briefed on our new projects!
Your second team project (January-June, semester 2)
Another exciting project I am now currently working on all about employability skills. So very similar to the project before in how the structure will work in regards to team work and independent research.
There is a lot to be learnt from these experiences and it really is all about getting out there and getting as much information as possible. Some of the main things I’ve learnt from PSAB is how to interview properly to make sure you’re getting the answers you need, how to actually relay my findings in a concise and clear way and how to work in a virtual team as your team members will most likely be from all over the country, you can’t meet up.
Mentoring (throughout the whole year)
Alongside your projects, as I mentioned earlier, everybody gets assigned to a mentor. This is a great opportunity to work with a professional on a personal level. I met my mentor at the first conference in London and this was where we got to know each other. My main tip for mentoring is: don’t be shy! They are willing to help and talk to you about whatever you want! I personally, concentrated on skills such as CV writing and cover letters as I was applying for a placement year. You get an employer’s view on topics and it’s really beneficial. My mentor has helped me with a range of things from helping me decide on what I want to do and how to go about certain decisions to helping me with some of my uni work.
I will say however that you get out of it what you put into it, you need to make the effort with your mentor to get the full benefits of mentoring. I speak with my mentor around every two to three weeks even if it’s just for a brief catch up about how things are going, they’re really understanding so during deadlines you won’t feel pressure to speak with them, they know we’re busy so don’t worry! This has been the best part of PSAB for me and I will take a lot of what I’ve learnt through with me in life.
I hope you take this opportunity; it was the best decision I ever made. And if you’re now a part of the PSAB team, you’re in for a fantastic year!