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Professional Exchange Visit Series: Crayola, Easton, PA

EACE Blog contribution by Jan Moppert, Director, Widener University
The smell welcomed me from the moment I stopped my car in the parking lot.  Along with the aroma of crayons (I later found out it is the 18th most recognizable smell), I was embraced by warm memories that had lain dormant for years.  The child in me giggled because I was at Crayola.  I couldn’t wait to learn about working at a place that is full of play and color, and how our students could avail themselves to a career there.

Everything at Crayola is colorful, and I quickly felt out of place in my black and white outfit.  Nicole Davis, our warm and inviting host and her colleague Stephanie shared the history and hiring needs of the company with the 13 career services professionals, who came from as far away as Albany, NY and Baltimore, MD.  Nicole oversees a very busy internship program and college recruiting, while Stephanie works with other recruiting for the entire company. Internships are placed throughout the organization and some are offered year-round. Degree-based careers can be in research and development, public relations, marketing, finance, engineering, web design, automated manufacturing technology, IT, global operations, consumer affairs, and much more.  All positions are posted on their web site.

We learned a lot of fun trivia such as the company started from an idea of one of the founders’ wives around the turn of the 20th century.  She was a school teacher and was responsible for setting the focus of the company of products for children and education.  The founders also invented carbon black, dustless chalk, and barn paint.  Today, Crayola is privately owned and a subsidiary of Hallmark with over 1,200 employees.

Everyday Crayola produces 13 million crayons; 2 million markers; 500,000 jars of paint; 22,000 Silly Putty eggs; and oodles of fun.  Most of this is manufactured in the Lehigh Valley in Pennsylvania, with a few regional sales offices in Arkansas and Minnesota, and some global operations as well.  The company is very green, with zero landfill, a solar farm, and a reforestation program. They also have a commitment to social engagement focusing on the arts, education, and health and welfare.

A highlight of our visit was a tour of the manufacturing plant, where we saw how crayons and markers are produced and packaged.  The plant is spotless and attractive with pictures of children—some the children and grandchildren of employees—and other playful artwork everywhere.  The employees were engaged, happy and worked independently.  We were told that there is little attrition, due to the positive company culture.  This was quite obvious by the feeling throughout the buildings and the friendliness of all the employees.

After we learned more about the internship programs and how recruitment happens at Crayola, we were let loose in the Crayola Store.  It was tempting to overdose on Crayola and Hallmark products at a discount, especially from the scratch and dent section where they were almost giving away the barely damaged products.  We all left smiling and carrying bright yellow bags filled with Crayolas and other goodies.

Jan Moppert

Jan Moppert

Jan Moppert joined Widener University as its director in October 2011.  Previously she lived in New Orleans where she served in three roles in twelve years at Loyola University New Orleans.  Most recently she was associate director of the Career Development Center for five years.  Jan’s other roles at Loyola were the coordinator and recruiter for the MBA program and the coordinator of the College of Business’s internship program, and the service learning director.

Before entering academia, Jan had more than 12 years’ experience in marketing with some of the nation’s largest health-care companies, including Hospital Corporation of America (HCA), Tenet, and HealthSouth.  This experience is complemented with a background in advertising and public relations.  She received her master of business administration from Loyola University New Orleans and her bachelor of science from Louisiana State University.

Jan has been active in several community agencies from the World Affairs Council of New Orleans to the World Trade Center of New Orleans, and has sat on several boards.  Currently she sits on the board for the Salvation Army in Chester, PA and Annunciation Mission, which focuses on supporting volunteers rebuilding New Orleans post-Hurricane Katrina. She is a graduate of LEADERSHIP Philadelphia and a member of the Philadelphia Suburban West Alumnae Chapter of Kappa Delta sorority.

Jan loves to cook, especially Cajun and Creole food, and has many of the authentic fixin’s shipped up from Louisiana.  You’ll find her rooting for the Saints most Sundays in the fall and LSU baseball on spring weekends.

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