What I did this summer…

Akin to the traditional elementary-school first homework assignment, I’m going to write about my summer spent in Battle Creek, Michigan, working in brand management for Kellogg’s. First of all, let me gush a little by saying that it was a fantastic experience!

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The Frosted Mini-Wheats team

I got to work on exciting and meaningful marketing projects right away. I was on the Frosted Mini-Wheats team and learned a ton about cereal (not to mention enjoyed the free cereal bar almost daily!). For one project I was able to assist with agency relations and digital strategy planning and for the other, I worked on the recommendation for the marketing communication plan for the Pumpkin Spice Frosted Mini-Wheats launch and also made predictions of future growth for pumpkin spice as a flavor.

IMG_3511I learned a lot about using data, coming to conclusions, making recommendations and putting together a powerful presentation. I had never worked with Nielsen data before, so learning that system was an early challenge, but also figuring out the best way to visually show data was a lot harder than I expected. Both skill sets will be needed for any brand manager, so I was happy that I was able to improve in both areas.

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My internship was Gr-r-reat!

Everyone at Kellogg was so supportive and happy to help in any way that I needed, so I got up to speed much faster than I would have on my own. (Shout-out to my roommate who taught me everything I now know about HLOOKUPs!) I reached out to the various business units and learned about their own Pumpkin Spice launches or how they handle seasonal flavors in general. It was fascinating! Now, 12 weeks later, I know more about Pumpkin Spice than anyone should, and it’s exciting to see it all play out this fall.

I’ve lived in Ohio for the last nine years, so I mistakenly assumed that Michigan summers would pretty much be like Ohio ones, but I have to say that they are way better up north! Battle Creek is four hours from Columbus, and in addition to being more north, it’s also almost as far west as you can get in the Eastern Standard Time Zone. This means that it’s light so much longer in the evenings (at the peak, it’s still light at 10:00 pm), which gives you so much more time to be outside doing things! It was sunny almost every day and living only an hour from the beach is pretty exciting.

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The four MBA marketing interns on our last day 🙁

I’m incredibly grateful for the opportunity that I had to work at Kellogg this summer and I truly enjoyed my experience. I have a much better understanding of what a brand manager and an assistant brand manager do at a large company like Kellogg, and I’ve worked on some of the important skills that I will need in those roles, both technical and inter-personal.

Now, who wants to go try some Pumpkin Spice Frosted Mini-Wheats? psminiwheats

Finish Out Strong

For the last couple of weeks, I have had to be “on guard” against the temptations to shirk (Thank you, Prof. Chuck S. ) my graduate student responsibilities.  For the most part, the weather has been cooperative at best — cooperatively trying to lure me into postponing some of my final papers and presentations in order to indulge in some short-term fun in the sun now that the swimming pool at my apartment building is open :/ Amidst all the lures of life, the last two weeks have sweetly and politely reminded me of this one thing:  I am not done…yet.
Like any graduate student at this time, I have contracted an acute case of GMTHOH-itis.  For those of you who aren’t terribly astute, here is the more pedestrian exegesis:  Get-Me-The-Heck-Outta-Here-itis. As much as I “want” to be done with spring quarter, I must come to terms with the fact that I am not.  Despite my course workload being easy, it still can be tempting for anyone (even yours truly) to avoid, dodge, duck, cheat, evade, eschew, elude, skulk, malinger, slough, sneak, snake and/or pussyfoot the last leg of the race we call graduate school.
So while I cut this blog short in order to attend to my graduate student responsibilities, let’s remember to finish the final two weeks of graduate school out strong!

Kid’s story: Return of the Jedi

Timeline: very late Sunday evening 101010.

I see: a pile of unread photocopies due this week; plus I’m taking public policy classes, so the pile is huge.

I hear:  Hole.

I smell: Ange au Démon (don’t ask).

I feel: hopeful.

“So what did you do this summer?” seems to be the popular question lately. Well, one thing I didn’t do was write on this blog, so here’s my shot at a comeback with the new blog rules in place, trying to answer that question.

I was working in my internship. This may not sound like much, but an important, if not essential, part of the full-time MBA program is an internship with a company that students usually get for the duration of summer. As far as I’ve heard from my peers, you can expect to be given a project that lasts around 10-12 weeks.

It still doesn’t sound like much, but then you have to factor in the fact that I’m an international student, and it’s more of an achievement for us to get an internship. You see, many companies will not even bother hiring international students, since many internships are really 3-month-long interviews for full-time positions. Most international students would require sponsorship for a working visa in order to be hired, and that certainly sounds complicated and scary to many. However, you’d be surprised to see how easy and cheap the process actually is. Despite this, many companies are simply not interested in the whole thing.

Fortunately, there are exceptions to every rule, and this case is not the exception, so there are exceptions… umm…  what?? Well, the point is that there are still companies who are willing to give internships to international students for one of two reasons: a) they simply don’t plan on offering full-time positions but rather need the help with a specific project; or b) they are willing to sponsor a working visa if the need is there at the end of the internship. I really hope mine is a case of reason b.

My internship is with Asea Brown Boveri, one of the largest companies in the world and which is headquartered in Switzerland. Since my particular internship is year-long (score!), I was not assigned a specific project, but rather am helping with everyday tasks in the worldwide Supply Chain Management group for one of ABB’s 5 divisions. In short: I am drowning in spreadsheets. And in case you’re wondering, yes, I love the job. I have also been fortunate enough to have extremely friendly coworkers and superiors. The company has a very traditional and respectful culture and I really look forward to going every morning.

Anyway, the intention of this post is not to brag about how awesome my internship has been (although it has been awesome), but rather to let people know that there are some excellent internships out there. This is not the case for everyone, as I’ve heard from some of my classmates, but it certainly can happen. My best advice is start looking early and work with the office of career management, they are very helpful. Also, don’t get discouraged if you haven’t gotten an internship by November of your first year in the program, since many of the best opportunities open during the spring or so.

One of the drawbacks of having an ongoing internship is that when added to a full-time class schedule you basically forgo having much of a life outside those two things. But hey: no pain, no gain. After a while, you find your rhythm and enjoy life to the fullest… or you could have a nervous breakdown. In any case, the pain won’t last forever, and that’s something to be happy about.

It’s back to reading for me, so I bid you farewell.

“And the sun goes down, I watch it slip away…”  – Hole

Counting Down

Well, the school year is almost finished. I almost feel like I’m in high school or even elementary anxiously anticipating the summer so that I would be done with school and also to have a blast during the summer. This summer looks to be a lot of fun, possibly stressful along the way, but enjoyable none-the-less.

There are 5 actual class days left. Two of them are finals, then there’s a final during finals week. It’s hard to believe. It’s been such a stressful quarter, and I can’t wait until it’s over.

Here’s a brief picture at what my summer looks like:

  • Continue working at CMS
  • Continue working at MSE for my GAA
  • Start working at GE! (Official internship announcement!)
  • Get married
  • Go on honeymoon
  • Go to Denver to see Benjamin present at a national conference
  • Go to 4-H camp as a dean
  • Relax at the State Fair instead of having to work the whole time
  • Visit the Hartford Fair
  • Drive to Washington D.C. to see the Hope Diamond and the Wittelsbach-Graff Diamond
  • See Wicked for the 3rd time

All in 2 1/2 months, and then school starts again. Geez.

Tonight is my group’s presentation for our compensation class. I’m looking forward to it being completed. I just need to write my portion of the paper which is due next week. And, I also have to write my portion of the paper for 854, which is also due next week. It’s my project for tonight during presentations and also tomorrow before class. I’ll be hard pressed for time this weekend because on Saturday we’re having an assembly day for all of the favors, centerpieces, etc for the wedding. Sunday is Benjamin’s sister’s senior recital.

For now, time to continue working. Hope everyone has a great day out in the sun. Don’t overheat.

Oh, and our engagement pictures were finally posted online. Here’s one of my favorites so far. More to come!

Oh yeah...mad monkey bar skills!