Participating teachers, L to R: Nicole Kezmarsky, Loudoun County HS; Martin Schulz, Tuscarora HS; Nathalia Hardy Freedom HS; Mark Smaltz, Brentsville HS; Martha Somers, Broad Run HS.

Over the past few days, my Neustar colleagues and I have been fortunate to participate in George Washington University’s 2012 GW Teachers in Industry Project (GW TIP).

GW TIP’s mission is to provide middle and high school core content teachers with the opportunity to experience firsthand the work environment for which they are preparing their students.  We worked with a group of five primarily STEM-focused (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) high school teachers in a four-day externship at Neustar’s Sterling, VA campus.  During this time, the teachers spoke to and learned from Neustar employees and executives from various divisions of the company including Finance, Communications, Product Marketing, Engineering and Network Operations.  The teachers talked with and learned from employees across the company to understand the skills needed to be successful in their lines of business.

Rick Pearson, Neustar Director and member of Loudoun County Economic Development Commission, drove the program at Neustar.  I had the pleasure of working with Rick on this project and leading the GW TIP educators through their Neustar journey beginning with an introductory dialogue with CEO Lisa Hook.  With the goal of providing a holistic view of the company, the teachers were exposed to strategic insight, business processes, financial background and the cultural attributes required to make the company successful.

“I know the teachers were here to learn from us, but I think we learned as much or more from them,” said Rick. “Both sides found ties between education and the workplace that they were not expecting.”  For example, Rick said that both teams found common ground with the idea that perceived failures often provide a good learning opportunity in both the workplace and in the classroom. “People of any age need to accept failure and learn from it in order for innovation to be successful. That is a really hard concept to implement in the classroom, as well as in the workplace.”

In addition, during each session the teachers were provided with the speaker’s background, both educational and work-related, as well as the hard and soft skills required to create impact and drive value in their daily work lives.

One of the teachers provided the following feedback after the first day: “Today was WONDERFUL!! Neustar ran us around like they have been hosting teachers for years. At one point, another turned to me and said, “Oh, we totally got the cool externship, didn’t we?”

The project was a great opportunity for us to promote and support the importance of STEM education and to help prepare our next generation of business leaders for promising and successful careers.