Connecting to their futures

CRJ senior Neil Mattei spends some of his school days on Twitter. No, Neil isn’t parked in the back of a classroom somewhere, aimlessly scrolling on his phone – As an intern at Connections Education, his job is to learn as much as he can about marketing, from advertising to grass roots efforts to social media.

That includes crafting tweets that support Connections’ work. Connections, which is based in Baltimore, provides online learning resources for K-12 students and their families, as well for school systems. It is part of the global education company, Pearson and has been an internship sponsor since 2013.

The company’s reach has given Neil the chance to stretch his own skills – so far this year, he has developed Facebook posts, gathered data, and boosted campaigns.

“I like the diversity and the opportunity to work in different groups in marketing,” Neil said. “It helps me fine tune what it is I actually want for my own future.”

Neil Mattei
Neil, and his supervisor, LaWanda Stone

When Connections held a conference for school liaisons, Neil provided event support and got to sit in on some of the sessions. “The liaisons got a crash course in grass roots marketing,” he said. “I learned about it, too. I really liked the idea of being out in the field and talking and learning.”

In fact, his lessons in marketing have led him to consider majoring in business when he heads to college next year. He has already begun to receive college acceptances, including Lincoln and Morgan State universities, but has not made a choice yet about where he will attend.

LaWanda Stone, Neil’s supervisor, said it’s “an honor” to mentor him on his pathway to college and career. “The workplace skills that he learns today will make him that much more employable tomorrow,” Ms. Stone said. “I’m going to be cheering him onto future successes.”

Following Neil’s path is CRJ freshman Brayan Perez, who also is working in Connections marketing department. Recently, he had the chance to pen some commentary for the company’s e-magazine. The article was for National School Choice Week in January. Here’s what he wrote:

“In my opinion, school choice is very important and fun! Choosing a school that is the right fit is one of the first big decisions a student has the opportunity to make with the support of their family. National School Choice Week celebrates giving families the opportunity to find the school option that best fits their needs. My family and I chose Cristo Rey Jesuit High School in Baltimore to meet my needs. As a freshman, discovering everything that high school has to offer is fun, especially with new friends. In addition to academics, my school choice gives me the opportunity to intern at Connections! As a Marketing Department intern, I have learned a lot this school year about the importance of school choice. Connections helps families better understand online learning through videos that show the benefits of virtual school, often from the perspective of enrolled students and families. School choice for students like me is a great way to instill confidence and encouragement to make the right choices throughout school and life.”

brayan perez
In addition to what he is learning at work, Brayan was recognized in the fall for his academic accomplishments.

When asked recently why he likes working at Connections, Brayan said he enjoyed the flexibility and being treated as an employee, not a teenager. “They give me a task and a due date, and trust that I’ll be honest and do my work,” Brayan said. “If I ever need anything, they are always there to help.”

To see our full list of internship sponsors, visit


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