CPG in the World of Nutrition

I can’t believe last week I completed my twelve week internship with Abbott Nutrition! It was a great and challenging experience that helped me leverage my existing knowledge and allow me to learn new facets of brand management.

Here’s a rundown of my internship experience:

The Company

Abbott Nutrition is a division of Abbott which is a global health care company. Abbott Nutrition provides trusted science-based nutrition to health care professionals and their consumers. Abbott Nutrition provides a portfolio of products that are trusted in pediatrics, adult, and healthy living. The portfolio includes: Similac®, PediaSure®, Pedialyte®, Ensure®, Glucerna®, EAS® and ZonePerfect®

The Internship

I interned this summer in Columbus, Ohio on the EAS® and ZonePerfect® brands as a brand management intern. The internship program at Abbott was very well run and had many fun activities planned. We got to know each group (Adult, Pediatric, and Performance Nutrition) within Abbott at luncheons and hearing from senior level executives. Within the MBA internship program we had events planned with each Abbott Nutrition group. We were able to attend a Columbus Clippers baseball game in the Abbott box and hear from Dr. Keith Wheeler from Performance Nutrition. We participated in a cooking class with the pediatric team to link up the importance of lutein and vitamin E. Lastly, we participated in a volunteer day with the adult nutrition team at LifeCare Alliance. One of the big perks of the internship was traveling to Abbott headquarters in Illinois and Steamboat Springs, CO.

The Projects

I had two projects throughout my time at Abbott which focused on two marketing elements, sampling and social media. I was able to execute comprehensive analysis and work with cross-functional teams to ultimately create a recommendation for both  EAS® and ZonePerfect® brands in 2015. I also had the opportunity to work with our creative agency to lead two initiatives for a new campaign launch.

As I mentioned before, I had the opportunity to travel to Steamboat Springs, Colorado to see EAS® and ZonePerfect® sampling in action. Attached are some pictures I took while I was there and the fun things we did!

On the drive from Denver, CO we went through the mountains and experienced all seasons. I was surprised by all the snow they had in June!

On the drive from Denver, CO we went through the mountains and experienced all seasons. I was surprised by all the snow they had in June!

Pulling up to Steamboat Springs, CO only 30 Minutes later and there was no snow!

Pulling up to Steamboat Springs, CO only 30 Minutes later and there was no snow!

Sampling at packet pick up!

Sampling at packet pick up!

Winona’s for breakfast to eat AMAZING cinnamon rolls!

Winona’s for breakfast to eat AMAZING cinnamon rolls!

The HUGE cinnamon rolls!

The HUGE cinnamon rolls!

Race Day Booth at the Finish Line of the Steamboat Springs Marathon

Race Day Booth at the Finish Line of the Steamboat Springs Marathon


Overall, I enjoyed this summer because it helped me learn more about working with cross-functional teams, the sports nutrition category, and the role of a brand manager.

A Summer of Great Memories in Hotlanta

Eleven weeks ago I packed up my car and drove to Atlanta, GA to embark on what has been an unforgettable experience. This summer I’ve had the opportunity to work at Georgia Pacific (GP). Georgia-Pacific LLC is a wholly owned subsidiary of Koch Industries, Inc., a private company based in Wichita, Kansas. GP is one of the world’s leading manufacturers and marketers of building products, tissue, packaging, paper, cellulose and related chemicals. Several notable brands under the GP umbrella include Brawny, Sparkle, Angel Soft, Quilted Northern, and Dixie. I was placed on the Home Cleaning Solutions innovation team and have had the opportunity to work on developing a recommendation for bringing a new product to market. This project has a wide scope, which has enabled me to collaborate with cross-functional teams in order to manage the progress of the project. It has been a valuable experience to champion a project from the start and make a recommendation on an action strategy. While this challenge has been extremely rewarding, I think the most impactful experience this summer has been the time spent with my fellow MBA interns.

The GP internship is not set up as a competitive internship like some companies offer. Each intern is evaluated individually based on the value they are able to create for the company and how well they fit into the GP culture. Being a privately held company, GP’s culture is different from many other companies I have been exposed to. The primary cultural difference is the management philosophy of Market Based Management (MBM). MBM is a management practice that focuses on creating the most long-term value for the company. One of the ten guiding principles of MBM is respect, which is why I believe GP encourages their interns to work together so that they are creating value through collaboration, rather than potentially destroying it through internal competition. This MBM philosophy is not just another set of values the company has composed to look good. MBM principles are embedded into the company from the CEO to entry-level hires.

Our intern class really bonded over the course of the summer, which has allowed us to enjoy many great experiences together both in the work setting and after hours. The recruiter in charge of the MBA internship program arranged lunches with relevant senior level management including the CEO and the EVP of consumer products. I can’t speak for other internship programs, but the fact that the top leadership would take time to have lunch with us really showed me how much they care about their internship program and that they see us as the force that will help drive the company in the future. These lunches provided a great platform for Q&A about the company and other related topics. Our class of interns also took a trip to a GP mill to see the production process first-hand. This trip was a wonderful experience, as I could not have imagined the size and scale of some of the machines that are required to produce paper products. In addition to the trip to the mill, we were able to enjoy a night at the Atlanta Braves baseball game in the GP suite (picture below). Outside of work we arranged a BBQ and several other get-togethers that helped to forge lasting friendships.

This summer has flown by. I can’t believe it’s almost over and I will soon be returning to school for my final year. Having gone through my first year and now a great summer internship I have a whole new perspective on choosing an employer. For any first year students that may read this post, I urge you to do your research on perspective companies and their different culture. To be honest, I was lucky and landed at a company where I fit in well and I felt comfortable. After spending the summer with GP I know I would not have been a good fit with some of the other companies I was considering in my first year. I am now a big advocate of informational interviews and doing as much research about a company and the work environment. To top that off, I would recommend that candidates look into privately held companies. While they are often not as well known as their publicly traded counterparts, private companies can offer a completely different perspective and opportunity than some publicly traded companies can.

Some of my fellow interns and I in the GP suite at the Braves game

Some of my fellow interns and I in the GP suite at the Braves game

View of Turner Field from the GP suite

View of Turner Field from the GP suite

The Fiery Passion for Spicy Chicken Sandwiches

There’s been a lot of talk recently about whether or not you have to be a consumer of a product in order to be a great brand manager for that product. On one side of the aisle, some believe that being a consumer of a given product actually hinders your ability to bring a new perspective and think objectively. On the other side, you have the school of thought that being a heavy user helps you understand the mind of the consumer better and that your passion for the product will power you through the ebbs and flows of the job’s demands. Both sides have valid points; but, no matter which you agree with, you’ll always need the passion to be there – whether that comes from learning about a product that’s entirely new to you or from working on one of your favorite brands.

While some of my fellow AMPers were introduced to their brands for the first time this summer, one thing was for sure with my internship – no introduction was necessary.

Having consumed Wendy’s best-selling chicken sandwich on a near weekly basis for as long as I can remember, I entered this summer with a fiery passion to uncover consumer insights, competitive innovations, and macro spicy food trends. All of this has culminated in developing a three-phase strategic marketing plan over the next six, twelve, and eighteen months for growing this brand that already has such a wide appeal. That’s right people – we’re talking Spicy Chicken Sandwiches.

Spicy-Chicken-Sandwich.png

The best part about working on the Spicy Chicken Sandwich brand is how incredibly passionate consumers are when we ask them to talk about what the sandwich means to them. As part of my data collection efforts, I worked with Wendy’s Consumer Insights team to interview almost 400 people who each had their own story as to why they love the sandwich. And the love for Spicy Chicken extended to all of Wendy’s as well. One person even wrote about how they loved Wendy’s so much that they received chairs and a table from a Wendy’s restaurant as a wedding gift!

That kind of enthusiasm is any aspiring brand manager’s dream. It makes it that much more exciting to jump out of bed in the morning knowing that what you’re working on means a lot to a whole lot of people. It’s what fuels the Wendy’s team to be some of the most creative, brilliant, and passionate people that I’ve ever worked with. But whether or not that’s a byproduct of the intermittent free Frosty is another story.

This summer has been an experience that I’ll never forget, mainly because I had the chance to work on a product that’s one of my favorites in the entire consumer landscape. And it’s taught me that no matter what brand you ultimately work on or what company you ultimately work for, it needs to be one that you love talking about, love thinking about, and preferably, love eating.

Creativity & Consumer: An Integrated Experience at Wendy’s

With a background focused heavily in product development/management, data analysis and supply chain, pursuing my MBA was driven primarily by my interest not just in business, but also in strategic creativity driven by consumer needs and insights – hence my desire to pursue brand management.  And that’s exactly two of the things I’m learning more about during my internship at Wendy’s: The Creative Process & The Consumer Focus.

The Business:

Wendy’s is known for hamburgers… and as a brand management intern on the hamburger team I have been exposed to big business projects, including those that are years out from being implemented.  It is also incredible to be here while Wendy’s is going through a transformation, becoming the “new QSR” and uniquely positioning itself as a restaurant with the experience and high quality food of a fast casual restaurant – but with the convenience and competitive pricing of “fast food.” The franchisee structure is also fascinating, with such an interesting dynamic between the company and franchisees as well as the importance of those relationships.  And that’s not all, Wendy’s is on the forefront of innovation, closely following trends in the food industry and constantly cooking up something new in the innovation kitchen.

The Creative:

Last summer, Wendy’s debuted the award winning Pretzel Bacon Cheeseburger, enlisting big names such as Nick Lachey to sing love tweets about the burger…. But then…. They took it away.  And it was devastating, to lose that which you loved.  But a few weeks ago, it came back and you were reunited with your “X’es” at last (pun intended: pretzel bun has an X on top)….oh how love makes you do crazy things.  That is the creative idea behind the return of the Pretzel Bun, which not only tells a story but also connects with consumers in an emotional way.  This year’s creative features “Red” singing love songs in television spots, Jon Secada appearing in Hispanic advertisements, as well as Boyz II Men taking over the internet by crooning over the return of the pretzel bun with lyrics composed of your tweets (#PretzelLoveSongs).  Combined with PR and digital efforts, including a karaoke studio in Times Square and Wendy’s 1st ever Snapchat, the return of the Pretzel bun has definitely made its comeback known.

The Consumer:

But how did this all come to be?  Nationally implementing a new product at Wendy’s has many stages and gates (ironically called the “stagegate” process ) starting with the consumer and the product, then moving into testing for operational & financial success as well as consumer research, developing creative based on consumer insights, and finally assessing the success of a campaign which includes (you guessed it) consumer reactions!  Everything is consumer focused, and I’ve been able to learn a great deal about the process to uncover consumer insights.

BUT! Consumers not only need to be satisfied with a great product, they need to be motivated by the messaging!  At Wendy’s, all of our agencies align to create television, radio, digital, PR and merchandising that support a central theme for a campaign.  Working with the agencies has been an amazing experience: I’ve visited our digital agency, VML, in Kansas City; I’ve pitched the strategic objective & insight/benefit/RTB to our agency partners during creative brief development for an upcoming project; and I’ve been able to review rough cuts and give feedback on television creative.

Overall:

This is the first year for the Wendy’s MBA Internship program, and I couldn’t be happier with the experience I’ve had.  Although I must be vague about my big summer project, it has been fun and exciting to work on something truly important to the overall business that will be implemented next year.  I’ve also been given multiple resources along the way, enabling me to craft a strategic recommendation that will ultimately drive sales for the company.

Now that you’re hungry…..go out and buy a Pretzel Bacon Cheeseburger and while you’re at it, check out the Boyz II Men Video (Warning: catchy song has a tendency to get stuck in your head).

http://www.vevo.com/watch/boyz-ii-men/yes-yes-yes-a-wendys-pretzel-love-song-encore/TIVEV1437088

It’s All About the Relationships: Networking 101 at Johnson & Johnson

Internships come in all different shapes and sizes, but one thing is one-size-fits-all: relationships.

Whether you are the only intern or one of 200 interns, it is imperative to build connections and form relationships throughout your short time with the company. Not only does this give you a better perspective of what it would be like to work for the company full time, but it also gives you the opportunity to connect with people who could help point you in different directions throughout your career. Remember, these people you are networking with have likely had various roles throughout the company, as well as friends at other companies! But this doesn’t mean simply building connections within the current marketing department. While this is important, it is also important to go outside of the marketing realm and form a greater understanding of what every function does within the company. This will allow you to better understand the processes and gain an appreciation for all the work that goes into making one brand successful. By having this more holistic view, you will not only be more successful with your project (because now you have thought of the implications of your recommendation from every angle), but you will also gain a network that extends beyond the marketing world and can help you progress in the future.

But wait – there’s more! Yes, this summer internship is all about networking within the company, but don’t forget about your fellow interns! While the size of internship classes vary, if you are in a situation where there are other interns, take advantage. Get to know them and build a foundation with them. These interns are MBA students from schools all over the country, meaning they have different connections and different experiences that you can build off of, too. And if you get an offer and head back full time, these people are going to be your new coworkers – so get to know them!

Why am I emphasizing relationships so much? As a Consumer Marketing Summer Associate at Johnson & Johnson (working on the Listerine brand), my summer has been all about forming relationships. JNJ understands the importance of connecting with people both internally and externally, and therefore my summer has been booked solid with 1:1 meetings and networking events. Networking is something I came to business school to improve upon, and this summer at JNJ has allowed me to face my fears head on. Although I am just over halfway done with my internship, I have already spoken 1:1 with Associate Brand Managers who were in my shoes recently, Brand Managers who understand the importance of this internship process, Directors who are humble enough to sit down with an intern and give advice, and Vice Presidents who have relayed wisdom that goes beyond this internship experience. Two months ago, the thought of scheduling dozens of meetings a week and spending all day going from meeting to meeting would have been overwhelming, but now I realize the importance and excitement of these meetings. Not only have I gained a greater understanding of the company and the community at Johnson & Johnson, but I have also gained the confidence and poise to speak with people at various phases in their careers and learn from their journeys and experiences.

But my internship isn’t all about relationships. This summer I have been tasked with creating a business plan to enter a new channel and expand Listerine’s reach. My project has the potential to build strategic partnerships in a rapidly growing professional area, thus allowing the company to be a first player in this new market and build Listerine’s scientific brand equity. The best part? This new channel is part of the brand’s business plan for 2015, meaning budgeting has already been set aside and my recommendation will (hopefully) be implemented after I leave this summer. But wait – it is actually all about relationships for me because the business plan I am creating is centered around strategic partnerships and forming relationships that go beyond profits.

So remember, while the internship is about your project and delivering high quality work to the company, it is also about forming relationships that extend beyond your project. Take advantage of these months and focus on building your network and gaining a new community.

And with all this networking, you’ll want to make sure you have a clean mouth – so go buy some Listerine and start building relationships! (Shameless plug)

We’re Going to Need a Bigger Garage…Product Marketing at the World’s Largest Start-up

Oh how the time flies! It is hard to believe that I have already reached the midpoint of my marketing summer internship at Dell. I’ve had an incredible opportunity to work in Dell’s product marketing group with a specific focus on tablets. In this role I use market knowledge and consumer insights to impact product decisions and maximize the value that Dell can create for its customers all over the world.

The program:
Maybe I’m biased, but it seems like Dell has built one of the premiere internship programs in the entire country. In late May, I arrived in Round Rock, TX and headed to Dell’s sprawling campus with a massive case of nervous excitement. As I walked in the door, the security guard directed me around the corner and I was greeted by the sight of two-hundred summer interns (graduate and undergraduate, from schools around the country) waiting to go put their talents to the test throughout the company. We were essentially handed a network that we could leverage to learn about any part of the company we chose! It was like starting B-school all over again (in the best possible way). Throughout the summer, the University Relations team has curated events that have enabled us to learn about the Dell culture, strategy, and the structure of the company. In addition to this, the program has provided us the opportunity to interact with the executives from all corners of the company. The highlight of this for me took place last week, when I got a chance to ask Michael Dell himself a burning question I had about the future of Dell’s product development and got a thoughtful and candid answer.

Dell today:
Dell’s recent shift from a publicly traded company to a private one has opened it to a plethora of new opportunities. Primarily, the company has been freed from the obligations of creating short-term returns to satiate shareholders. Instead, it can focus on a product and delivery strategy that creates more value for customers long-term and will build greater brand loyalty and sustainable sales. What this means for me is that I get to carry an entrepreneurial spirit into my day to day work. This enables me to implement a “blank-sheet” approach to solve any problem. In other words, instead of following a process that may not be ideal for what I’m trying to accomplish, I can evaluate exactly what information I need, how the pieces are going to fit together, and then decide the most efficient way to bring it together and communicate it to drive a desired outcome. This empowerment is contagious and is changing Dell’s DNA for the better.

My work:
The tablet space is a new business for Dell, and a place where there is a huge opportunity to create value for our customers, both commercial and consumer, and enhance our current offerings (due to confidentiality, I will keep my accounts sufficiently vague). My projects require me to take new products through the strategic marketing elements (market analysis, segmentation, targeting, and positioning) and use that information to decide what should be on the product and how it should be priced. Doing this at Dell requires an intense and passionate focus on the customer and the ability to work and communicate across a variety of functions. Only through understanding the pain points of a customer and how they use products, can you develop a device to solve their problems. This experience has been truly transformative and has changed the way I look at customers. They ARE the product experts. They may not always know what something should look like, what it should be called, or how it should be messaged, but the answers to these questions are in their behaviors, and in their voice. You just have to learn how to hear it.

The Best Kept Secret: My Summer at Big Lots

This summer, I am a Marketing Strategy Intern at Big Lots in beautiful Columbus, OH. It has been a great introduction to many, many things, including the retail industry, the corporate world, and being an intern. Here are some of the things I have taken away so far.

Big Lots is a unique company in that no one else really does what they do. They are a somewhere in the grey area between big box retailers and dollar stores. Their inventory is a mix of many different products anywhere from food, to household goods, to couches and mattresses, including a variety of discounted name brand products along with private labels. They have over 1500 retail locations in the US and have the second largest distribution center in the country right here in Columbus, OH at about 2.7 Million square feet.

Being an intern…
My experience as an intern there is unique in that I am the only MBA intern they have this summer. In the past year, they went through many changes including hiring a new CEO and new CMO. Expanding the intern program was one of the new initiatives, so here I am. It is a particularly interesting time to be working with the marketing team because they are in the middle of revamping their digital presence, including launching an E-commerce site and working towards a mobile platform. I am getting to see how incredibly complicated this process is and I have gained a huge amount of respect for our colleagues who have developed these for other companies.

An interesting challenge Big Lots faces is building brand equity, and they have a unique situation that no one in their industry has to overcome in order to be successful. A major hiccup they have with this initiative is their sourcing strategy. Here is an example. Imagine you are working for a major CPG company and selling toothpaste. You, as a new brand manager, decide you want to move the brand logo 3mm to the left on some of your packaging. After this change is made, all of the previous inventory of the toothpaste is now not properly branded and cannot be sold on major retail shelves. You then sell it to Big Lots, who buys all of it at a discounted price, even cheaper than you sell it to all other major retailers. In exchange, Big Lots is not allowed to advertise the price of the product in order to not upset their competitors who are buying it at full price.

So to make a long story short, one of our biggest differentiators cannot be marketed to our audience because of contracts with our suppliers. That’s enough for any marketing strategist to lose their mind over, and a huge challenge for the team I am working with this summer.

The projects…
First of all, I am really glad that I loved strategy class because I am their strategic analysis guy for the summer.  My first project was to take a deep dive into our competitor’s offerings for the holiday season, specifically for the Thanksgiving week and Black Friday. I then performed a SWOT analysis on Big Lots and made suggestions for the upcoming holiday season. I really liked this project because I learned so much about how the retail industry works as a whole and the vast spectrum of challenges a company like Big Lots faces when competing with some really powerhouse companies.

My second major project that is starting this week is to take a deep dive into mobile marketing. This includes looking at what our competitors and other retailers are doing, as well as anything outside of retail or even commercial that is interesting and could possibly be applied to Big Lots. I am excited for this project because I can have immediate impact on the direction of the company with the recommendations from my findings.

The coolest thing…
By far the coolest part of my summer was sitting in on a meeting with our creative agency. I was sitting in a small room with the CMO, the three other members of the Marketing Strategy team, and the five agency representatives. The agency was pitching their ideas for the upcoming quarter and we were giving them feedback on their creative ideas as well as the strategy behind it. It was fascinating to see how the whole process works, as well as really fun watching them pitch their ideas. A lot of the creative at the agency are alumnus of the The Second City comedy group in Chicago, so the ideas were really fun and unique. I can’t say anything about the upcoming creative, but it should be very funny!

Overall, it has been a great summer so far. The work has been challenging and has allowed me to interact with many different professionals at Big Lots. I look forward to the next 6 weeks there and growing personally and professionally, as well as catching up with everyone when the semester starts in August!

Two for One – Marketing and Strategy in the Twin Cities

I just wrapped up the fifth week of my internship at 3M in Integrated Marketing Development in St. Paul, Minnesota.  Next week is officially the “Hump Week” of our 11-week internship.  Time is really flying by!

The Work

Integrated Marketing Development is part of Corporate Marketing.  We’re a centralized group that works on project requests from 3M’s 40+ divisions.  Projects can involve any aspect of marketing, from market assessments to tactical pricing strategies.  It’s an interesting mix of marketing and consulting.  The group has grown in size and visibility over the last few years because of the quality of work that has been produced.  Marketing Strategists (our official title) spend 18-30 months in the role before moving out into a business unit.  It’s a great opportunity to work on a variety of projects and learn about the divisions and type of marketing roles before having to commit to one longer-term.

I have three projects, which I can’t really talk too much about due to confidentiality.  In broad terms, two involve market/industry assessments (Prof. Dial would be proud!), while the third is more related to value proposition.  Two are in B2B, and one is in B2C (although that one has aspects of B2B within it as well due to the nature of the category).  My first weeks were spent steeped in research, learning to efficiently navigate 3M’s online libraries.  It would certainly be much easier if everything were neatly outlined in a 30-page HBS case I could refer to, but what’s the fun in that?  The tricky part is that the industries I’m dealing with are super niche.  High-level reports are helpful, but there’s still a ton of dissecting that needs to occur to truly scope the markets my clients are in.  Research also involves talking to many people at 3M.  A lot of knowledge doesn’t get written down and so wading through informational interviews is common practice.  I’m also doing some Voice of Customer research with industry experts to answer various critical questions on the projects.  At this point in my projects, I’m able to start converging the data into more tangible conclusions, which is definitely a more comfortable place for me to be.  This past week, I had midpoint reviews with the clients involving pivot tables and Power Point decks (they LOVE their Power Point here!) of information outlining the path for the rest of the project.  I hadn’t really realized how much I had accomplished in a short period of time.  It often feels like we’re just spinning our wheels, but the full-timers keep reminding us that whatever information we find will be helpful to the clients because they simply don’t have the time to dedicate to these projects themselves.  It’s good to know that my projects will have an impact after I leave.

The People

I love the people I work with.  The full-timers are really great and the group has a laid-back vibe.  The other interns in my group (there are 10 of us) are all awesome and we get along really well.  There are also 10 MBA interns in another group called Strategic Business Development and 3 more MBAs in Health Care.  We’ve done quite a few activities through work (this past Friday we did volunteer work in the morning and spent the afternoon on a yacht on the (nearly overflowing) Lake Minnetonka) as well as various non-work activities such as Monday night trivia.  I also have a roommate which eases the anxiety of being in a new city.  I’m just thrilled to be surrounded by so many fun and friendly people.  My networking circle is definitely getting bigger!

The Location

Minneapolis is a very cool city.  Our apartment building is right downtown and walkable to quite a bit.  I will say that if I lived here full time, I would not pick our building (despite the awesome rooftop patio, there are some noise issues with the surrounding buildings and park), but the general location is nice.  Minneapolis is becoming quite a foodie city, so there are plenty of restaurants to try (there’s no way I’ll get to everything on my list!).  It’s also very bike-friendly.  The Nice Ride program really connects the city (far more than CoGo in C-bus), so it’s really easy to get around.  I’ve thoroughly enjoyed being able to walk to the grocery store and to Target on a regular basis and bike to the lakes and other neighborhoods.  I still need to get to a Twins game  though (I’m hoping to go when the Yankees come to town) and enjoy some of the numerous music venues in town as well.

3M is in St. Paul, so I have a 20-minute commute each day.  However, there is always crazy traffic on the drive home, so it’s usually 40 minutes on the return trip.  St. Paul is a great city as well.  We’ve done several happy hours downtown and our favorite trivia spot is there too.  We also went to a St. Paul Saints game during our first week here, which was quite an experience.  They’re not affiliated with MLB, so things were a little interesting.  We actually had seats on the field and one of our interns threw the “ceremonial last pitch”!

All in all, it’s been a fantastic five weeks!  I’ll end with a few pictures from my time here.

St. Paul Saints game with IMD full-timers and Interns.

St. Paul Saints game with IMD full-timers and Interns.

Lake Calhoun on a sunny day.

Lake Calhoun on a sunny day.

Intern dinner at The Local.

Intern dinner at The Local.


Gro Something Greater: My summer internship at Scotts Miracle-Gro

This summer I am a brand management intern at Scotts Miracle-Gro in Marysville, OH. SMG is the world’s largest marketer of branded consumer lawn and garden products. I’m a career switcher, so it’s exciting to finally experience first hand what it means to work in brand management. I knew that Assistant Brand Managers (ABMs) and Brand Managers have to be very strategic and analytic in their roles, but it surprised me to find out how little “marketing” brand people actually do. Brand management is really more of a general management role. Brand managers essentially run their brand’s business; it’s great if you have entrepreneurial aspirations, but you want the backing of a large company.

In a typical brand management internship you have 3 projects: strategic, creative, and analytic. I have really lucked out with my internship because I have great projects with company support and a budget! I’m working on the Miracle-Gro brand with our newest innovative product, gro-ables. When I accepted my internship with Scotts this is the exact product I was hoping to work on! Gro-ables are all in one seed pods that make growing your own veggies and herbs super easy! Each seed pod contains seeds placed at the right depth, growing media to ensure proper moisture, and plant food to feed your plant for one month. The best part is that they are guaranteed to grow! I definitely wouldn’t classify myself as a gardener, but this internship has already gotten me to start growing my own herbs! It really can’t get any easier than pushing a gro-able into the soil and watering. I think these innovative little pods will bring a lot of new people to the gardening category, which will only help the other Miracle-Gro products in the long run.

I’ve had a good first three weeks of work with lots of variety. I spent my second day of work at Easton Town Center giving away Gro-ables as a part of Grow Columbus. I had so much fun telling people how awesome Gro-ables are! This event helped me get better acquainted with the product and I saw first hand how growing your own food can have such a big impact on people’s lives. I met people who were picking up Gro-ables for their community garden, school garden, and personal gardens. I love these products because you don’t need to live in the suburbs and have a large outdoor garden; Gro-ables can be planted in-ground or in your favorite pot of container.

I’m really looking forward to digging into my projects and making a contribution to the business. Maybe I’ll even be an expert gardener by the end of the summer! Stay tuned to hear how the rest of my internship goes.