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A beautiful internship: IST student drives tech design at Estée Lauder Companies

(Editor’s note: This is the ninth in a series of stories highlighting College of Information Sciences and Technology students and their summer internships and professional development experiences.)

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Since she was a little girl, Lauren Pearl has had a dream to one day live and work in New York City. She came one step closer to making that dream a reality this summer, through a 10-week internship with the Estée Lauder Companies (ELC).

A senior studying human-centered design and development (HCDD) in the Penn State College of Information Sciences and Technology (IST), Pearl worked as an IT intern on the ELC’s brand technology team. Serving as her team’s design lead, Pearl and her fellow interns worked to solve a program challenge to determine how the company might accelerate future growth by attracting an emerging consumer base through high-touch omnichannel experiences. The team created a mobile, social media application, which they presented to the company’s leadership at the end of the internship.

“My daily work mostly consisted of designing, prototyping and wireframing the interfaces, screens and flow of the application,” said Pearl. “I also helped create feature lists and personas and scenarios for testing.”

Pearl was introduced to ELC during her first semester at Penn State, when she was enrolled in one of the College of IST’s introductory courses in the brand new HCDD major. In that class, Pearl had the opportunity to work with the former vice president of global technology for Clinique, an ELC brand, on a semester-long project that eventually became ELC’s Clinical Reality web application.

“That small insight and introduction into one of the ELC brands sparked my interest in working for the company one day, which led to further connections through LinkedIn,” said Pearl.

Through her research, Pearl found that the company was a unique place where Pearl could blend her passions.

“Estée Lauder allowed me to combine and build upon my different interests: technology, business and beauty,” said Pearl. “They also have a very deep history rooted in innovation and the empowerment of women, which is reflected in its culture and people. I also enjoyed working for a large global organization that combines manufacturing, distribution and retail.”

As one of the first students enrolled in the HCDD program, Pearl found that nearly all the curriculum content she’s learned at Penn State was directly applicable to her internship and project. She made a connection with her manager de ella, who was recently hired to deploy more human-centered design thinking strategies into the IT space at the company. Pearl’s manager recognized her experience and passion for her, eventually asking her to lead multiple design-thinking and wireframing workshops for both fellow interns and full-time ELC employees.

“I was asked to present different levels of design-thinking methodologies and the feedback offered included how the ELC team enjoyed learning about these new concepts, which are only just beginning to gain traction within the company,” said Pearl. “That was exciting for me because I was leading and teaching tech professionals information that is pretty cutting-edge in the space. This helped me make meaningful connections with many incredible people at all levels of the company and, most notably, the global CIO.”

Experience Pearl has gained at IST through extracurricular activities also benefited her throughout the internship.

“The leadership and project management skills from my experience with both creating and running the User Experience Professionals Association student organization at Penn State helped me stand out as an intern,” said Pearl. “It made me feel more comfortable in meetings about project scope and budgeting.”

While Pearl’s internship provided her with valuable skills and networking opportunities that will impact her in her future career, it also reaffirmed her childhood dream.

“My goal of experiencing New York City surprisingly exceeded my expectations,” said Pearl. “I enjoyed every moment of the NYC experience, which has provided a sense of validation and confidence starting my senior year and job search. I am hopeful and excited to return to NYC to start my career.”

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