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.