Young woman gains confidence and career skills through real-world applications Nicole Johnston, California

Young woman gains confidence and career skills through real-world applications


Hands-on experience helps a college student discover her career goals

Like many teenagers, Nicole (Niki) Johnston wasn’t sure about her college and career goals. While attending Oak Ridge High School in California, she spent all of her time outside of school doing homework or horseback riding. Niki was passionate about horses and worked a part-time job cleaning stalls to pay for her horse and riding lessons.

As graduation approached, Niki had to make some decisions. “I had no idea what I wanted to do right out of high school,” she admitted. So she turned to her parents for advice.

Her father, who owns an IT consulting firm in Sacramento, suggested that she might like marketing. Niki recalled that her mother enjoyed a career in marketing before deciding to stop working outside the home to spend more time with her family. So Niki chose to major in business administration with an emphasis in marketing. She was admitted to her mother’s alma mater, California State University, Chico, in 2012.

During her freshman year of college, Niki matured and developed a passion for marketing. As a member of the Alpha Delta Pi sorority, she participated in several philanthropic activities, including fundraising for the Ronald McDonald House. Getting involved in the community helped Niki gain confidence in herself and her capabilities.

She took general business classes, which broadened her horizons. Her favorite class was business law because she learned about real-world cases. She was most nervous about her Finite Math course.“I have always struggled with math,” Niki explained. “It has never been my friend. It was always my biggest obstacle growing up.”

As part of the course, Niki used MyMathLab®, Pearson’s online learning tool, for her weekly homework assignments and quizzes. When she had difficulty solving a problem, she used the tool’s “help me solve this” button, which showed her step by step how to solve similar problems. By staying on top of her assignments and using the online tool to learn the concepts, Niki said, “I was able to really absorb the material and grasp it. I was able to get an A at the end of the course, which is huge for me.”

I learn best through the application of real-world examples.

Because she had had a positive experience with MyMathLab and wanted to get some hands-on experience in marketing, Niki applied for and got a part-time job as a Pearson Campus Ambassador in the spring of 2013. Campus Ambassadors provide post-adoption support and conduct market research with students and faculty who are using Pearson products.

The position helped Niki improve her communication skills and further increase her confidence. She gave presentations at the beginning of each term to introduce classes to the online tool. Niki noted, “I learned how to get my points across more effectively and how to engage the audience. I really improved my public-speaking skills.”

The experience intensified Niki’s passion for marketing. She greatly enjoyed focusing on the customer experience. “I like finding different ways to ensure that the customer’s needs are getting met and the flexibility of contributing your own ideas,” she explained.

After working as a Campus Ambassador for two more years, Niki landed an internship with Pearson’s marketing department in the summer of 2015. Working in Pearson’s New York office for the summer, she helped develop campaign materials to support the Campus Ambassador program. Through the hands-on experience, Niki gained project management and collaboration skills and developed an interest in the education industry.

“This experience has really polished me,” Niki explained. “I feel more prepared for a professional position after college.”

College is not only allowing me to gain knowledge through my coursework, but also to gain hands-on experience and grow.

Going into her senior year of college, Niki was promoted to regional coordinator of the Campus Ambassador program. Upon graduating, she hopes to find a position that combines her passion for marketing with either her interest in education or her love of horses.


A way to enable personalized learning at scale

MyMathLab with Adaptive Learning continuously assesses student performance and activity in real time and, using data and analytics, personalizes content to reinforce concepts that target each student’s strengths and weaknesses.
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