Cassandra Pelham Interview
Cassandra Pelham, a former Fellow and now editorial assistant at Scholastic, demonstrates one of the ultimate goals of the Scholastic CDF Fellow program. Using the experience and knowledge she gained during her three years in the program, Pelham was able to become a full-time employee shortly after graduation from Spelman College in 2006. An English major, turned editorial assistant, Pelham was placed in the Scholastic Press division, working in Paperback Reprints.September 5, 2007 will mark the one-year anniversary since she began working for the company. The following is a highlight of the interview between 2007 Fellow Candace Wells and Cassandra Pelham.
Q: What was your experience like during each year you spent as a Fellow?
A: My first summer was in 2004. It was my first corporate job so it was really different and challenging. I worked in editorial in Cartwheel [Scholastic imprint] and I really liked it. I made a lot of connections and was able to maintain them. It was a lot of learning.
My second summer was a good experience. It was the year of the Diversity Panel project, which was exciting. I was the emcee and it was good to get that exposure, to have people see my face because I knew the next summer I'd be looking for a job. I worked with Arthur [Levine] in his imprint. It was probably the best out of the three years.
My third summer was really a transition. I'd just graduated and was looking for a job. I knew I wanted to work here; I'd loved the internships. That was the summer we went to New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. That was a really powerful project.
Q: When were you offered a job at the company?
A: It happened a couple weeks before the end of the internship in Andrea's [Pinkney] office. It was a really pivotal moment. I was happy; I think I knew that something was going to work out.
Q: What is the best part about what you do?
A: I think the best part is knowing that I'm contributing to getting books into the hands of kids.
Q: How has your experience as a Scholastic employee been thus far?
A: It's been a rewarding experience. I'm definitely always learning a lot. Some weeks are more hectic than others.
Q: Do you have a mentor within the company? What do you feel the significance is in having one?
A: I have several mentors within the company. Beyond Scholastic, I seek the advice of my parents a lot. They have a lot of professional, corporate and personal experience and they've always been a good resource for me.
You really can't get anywhere by yourself. You need people to help you, those who have your best interests in mind. We've gone to school for large portions of our lives and thus, have had teachers for a long time. To suddenly not receive any more teaching or guidance because we're now so-called "adults" is ridiculous. Mentorship is a life-long process.
Q: Any advice for those looking to get their foot into the professional door the way you have?
A: Continue to build relationships; that got me where I am now. It's important to keep in contact with the people you meet. As far as your schooling goes, see how you can make a difference where you are and continue to prepare for your career upon graduation. Learn from and take everything you can from experience you have, whether it is good or bad.