The Reader’s Digest Association ain’t what it used to be

When I first changed my major in college back in 1997, I was desperate to find a good job in the technology space. I was starting from square numero uno, with no real world experience in IT, apart from a semester running the computer labs at Univ@ Albany for a semester (as part of a class), and while at a small college near my parents house in the spring of 1997. 

I attended summer classes at Pace University, registered at the Pace Co-op program office for internships, brushed up my resume, and interviewed one location after another. IBM’s TJ Watson center, Avon, and finally Reader’s Digest. Of all my choices, I accepted the position at RDA in their Help Desk initially doing analysis work for the first semester. After a regular help desk employee moved on, I jumped at the chance to take her place on the phones. I spent the next eight months providing level 1 support, including the occasional office visit.

It was an interesting experience, and I truly loved the people I worked with. Some really nice people over there, but RDA was just beginning to experience troubles.  That same year, I witnessed my first layoff, as one day, the halls were empty, and middle management was gone. The stock was in bad shape, and the old timers were grumbling about retirement.

By August 1997, they offered me any open internship position within the firm if I would stay, but I wanted to try another company, so I parted with a heavy heart, and moved to another intership with Kraft in their Coffees & Cereals division. People have come and gone, and I went to a few get-togethers of RDA staff in the late 90’s, but life went on for me after I graduated and started working full time.

I just read an article in the NY Times about RDA’s current woes, and it saddens me. The article, A Reader’s Digest That Grandma Never Dreamed Of, states that the company has moved out of the beautiful Pleasantville/Chappaqua campus. More people have been laid off, artwork sold, brands have suffered. I hope the management team is able to pull it together to save the company and the brand, even though it’s saddled with onerous debt.

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1 Response to The Reader’s Digest Association ain’t what it used to be

  1. Ajo Cherian says:

    Joel, why do you think this is? Is it because of the new media vs. old media debate and RDA is simply not able to compete online? I too loved reading readers digest as a little kid.

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