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Cengage Learning
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Luiza Lodder

Paterno Fellow
Major: English
Hometown: Brasilia, Brazil

How did you learn about this opportunity?

Thanks to a networking contact that my mother made while on a business trip, I was put in touch with an executive from Cengage Learning and scheduled a phone interview with him and sent him my resume.

Tell us a little bit about your experience.

For ten weeks, I was a content development intern for Gale, which is a division of Cengage Learning. Gale publishes educational materials and resources for students of all ages. In fact, many of the online databases I use through Penn State's library system for my research come from Gale. I was placed in the Boston office, but my team and supervisor were located at Gale's headquarters in Detroit. Thus, much of the communication and cooperation was virtual, conducted through skype meetings, phone conferences, and emails. This aspect allowed me a great deal of independence, which I enjoyed. Because of my English major and my interests, most of my work involved Gale's literature databases and their maintenance and upkeep. This entailed updating author birth dates/death dates, inserting relevant information such as recent prizes won or books published, and uploading themed book lists into a contemporary literature database. I was also doing similar tasks with educational databases geared towards Middle and High School audiences. For my final project, I wrote 40-word blurbs for each of the literature databases' most commonly searched authors and works.

How did this experience impact you academically?

I can think of two major ways this experience has been relevant to my academic life. First, my involvement with the literature and educational databases gave me a backstage glimpse at everything that goes into running the resources that students, professors, and researchers use. As an English major, I did not even know that some of the resources I use to do research for essays were created and curated by Gale (one example is the MLA International Bibliography). In this position, I was able to fully appreciate the value of these resources and I also lamented the fact that many students are still unaware that they exist or do not use them. My second observation relates to my studies as an English major. My final project, wherein I had to write short, introductory blurbs describing the 100 most searched authors and works, doubled as an intensive introduction to a varied selection of the most important names and titles in all of literature, Western and beyond. While by no means comprehensive, the project introduced me to a wider range of classic authors and texts than any English literature survey class has done so far. This knowledge can only benefit me in the future.

What are your career goals and plans?  How did this experience impact them?

Going into this internship, my aim was to explore career options other than teaching or being a full-time writer. I wanted to scope out the publishing industry, and experiment with jobs in the private sector. When I started working at Gale, I adapted instantly to the routine of office life and appreciated the company's casual, welcoming atmosphere. I learned that I was by no means unsuited to a job such as this one, and that a job guided by a mission like Cengage's (characterized by a commitment to learning and education) would certainly be satisfying for me. However, writing was not at the core of my duties, even though my final project was designed to give me something that was heavy on writing. After concluding my ten weeks, I felt like my desire to be a professional writer was reawakened and reaffirmed, challenging though that path may be. While updating the literature databases, I was exposed to countless classic and contemporary authors, thinkers, and novelists of all kinds who wrote for a living and gained widespread recognition for their books. I realized that that is the career that excites me the most.

After concluding my ten weeks, I felt like my desire to be a professional writer was reawakened and reaffirmed, challenging though that path may be.

Would you recommend this experience to other Liberal Arts students?

I would very much recommend this experience to anyone in the Liberal Arts who is interested in the general fields of writing, education, and the humanities. Cengage however, is very large and has multiple departments and divisions, so my experience does not at all characterize what the company does. There are positions for students of all positions and backgrounds. However, for liberal arts students wanting to explore the private sector or work for a forward-thinking business committed to a worthy cause, I can confidently recommend Cengage.

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