As part of our continuing “what the hell” series starring interns, we bring you this installment, courtesy of Allison O’Neill
“God Save the Queen,” “Mind the Gap,” and give your interns five pounds a day for lunch, were all part of my daily routine while interning abroad in London last spring semester. Was it exciting? Absolutely. Was it like CatapultRPM? Not even close.
As soon as I got off the plane, I began mentally preparing myself for a new internship at CatapultRPM. As part of a best-in-class retail consumer marketing agency – a.k.a. “shopper marketing”- I now know why I am motivated to buy, as well as what, when, and how I buy. Until I started working here, I thought I bought things simply because I liked them or needed them. But this experience pulled back the curtain to reveal the process behind the actual scientific, psychological and artistic strategy of marketing executions. There is a meticulously thought-out plan behind turning consumers into shoppers and compelling them to want or need to buy a product they had not even considered to include in their everyday lives. As an intern at CatapultRPM, I had my proverbial P&G “moment of truth.” And many other “ah-ha” moments. It’s not been dull, that’s for sure.
There is one experience in particular that has shaped my understanding of what a best-in-class, behavior-based marketing services agency is all about. For the last several months, I have owned, managed, and completed a project called “Aisle Watch.” This is one of the many assignments ourv CPG team does for our client as part of a competitive category, shopper, and brand review. Each month, I go undercover to take in-store pictures of what is happening by competitive category. Once back in the office, I compile an account of all the happenings and updates from financial returns, seasonal merchandising, comp shop results, design partners, and so on. It’s basically the complete 411 on what we’ve termed “All Things Target,” one of the biggest files on our server.
In addition to providing news on competitive brands and unique and exclusive promotional activities, I develop an executive summary, which includes key takeaways that my team, the brand business units, our client and their sales counterparts, use to inform their planning decisions. After I compile the deck, I present it to my boss in a monthly meeting where I have the chance to share my insights and gain alignment before it is sent out to the client and to our internal teams. Owning this project has really given me a closer look at the art and science that is shopper marketing. I now understand that it does not just focus on in-store activity, but rather, there is a 360° surround sound multi-channel approach, and there is a difference between the consumer and the shopper.
As I enter the final stages of my undergraduate education, I am proud of the work I have done and all I have accomplished. This internship has been vital to determining my future career decisions in today’s competitive job market, and the constantly changing dynamics in marketing in an ever-evolving world. No one’s career path is a straight line; creating opportunities through internships is a great way for young professionals to determine their aptitudes, skills, and interests. This is my third internship thus far, and the lessons I have learned while interning have been invaluable–they’re experiences I could not have had in the classroom. However, this internship has been the most influential in terms of my professional growth. Three key takeaways I have learned this summer are:
1. Go the Extra Mile: Always put 110% into everything you do; no task is too small when you’re starting out. Demonstrating that you care about your tasks will show peers a good work ethic and employers may be more inclined to invest in and develop someone like that on their teams.
2. Speak Up: If an intern wants to be given more responsibilities and learn the most they can, whether it is attending a meeting, listening in on a conference call, partnering with a mentor, or managing a project, speak up. It exercises and develops your point of view and shows you can be a valuable contributor to a team. I have found that more likely than not, the answer is usually “yes,” and people are willing to help.
3. “Act As If”: I have learned that the best way to make the most out of an internship is to “act as if.” In other words, act as if you already have the responsibilities of an actual employee, or the responsibilities of a position you may want in the future. This mentality is very powerful, motivational and leads to opportunities.
This internship is unique in that it is a year-long term. I look forward to using the skills and knowledge I’ve gained from this internship as I continue to develop my career.