Confessions of a Summer Intern: All Work with Lots of Play

In her second post, Amanda fills us in on all of her internship projects. Meet Amanda in her first post.

I’m in week 4 of my internship and have many updates for you! First and foremost, I will have to continue to keep my employers name anonymous. There is a blog writing process. But after trying to follow it, I decided it wasn’t worth it. Basically, I would have had to write all of my blog posts, post it to the internal company web (where anyone in the company can see them), and then send them all to someone to edit them to be shown outside of the company. It wouldn’t be “real time” and, quite frankly, it is an insanely long process that I don’t want to do.

What I can tell you about my company is this: I do work at corporate headquarters and we are in the financial industry.

One of the questions I get asked the most is: “You’re a marketing intern? In a financial company?” Well, I assume that some of you are thinking the same thing. The thing is every good company needs a marketing department.

Our company has roughly 300 people, give or take, in our marketing department. People work on creative, do research, look out into the future, and just about everything else a “normal” marketing department does. I like being in the financial industry because it is really stable. If hired, I would be able to have a strong sense of job security, which is really important to me. I also like working in the financial industry because as an industry, one of our goals is to help people become financially stable and strong. One of my personal life goals is to be financially stable, so I can easily align myself with the industry goal and stand behind our products.

Another question I would assume you are thinking is “Products? What kind of products do financial companies have? Aren’t they just banks and stuff?” Financial Industry products are anything that the customer uses – for example a checking account, a savings account, a credit card etc. That is just the bank side of things. The financial industry spans way past that into life insurance, auto insurance, mortgages, brokerage accounts and more. There are waaaaaay more products than that, but now you get the picture.

So! Now for other updates. I’m knee deep into projects and loving it! In my department, they are REALLY good at giving us actual work – not just normal intern junk.

My first project involves segmentation (dividing the customer base into groups based on beliefs, behaviors, and demographics). My company uses segmentation to be able to provide better service for our customers. The project I have is updating our internal segmentation book. This book helps explain segmentation, how we use it, and our group breakouts. The book is distributed across the enterprise for other employees to understand what marketing segmentation does. I like this project because I am able to be creative with the layout but it also has me figuring out data. I also like this project because I learned a lot about segmentation last summer which makes jumping into this project easier.

My second project is more of a “learning” process. I am working with a design team to learn about customer solutions and how our company can make our product experiences more customer focused. The design team works with project managers across the enterprise to encourage design thinking… which basically means let’s see this 100% from a customer point of view. A product may be good, but can it be great?

An example of this is a normal wine opener. It obviously works, but it’s no fun to use. Now, let’s put some design thinking in there and you have automatic wine opener! (Note: we are a financial institution… we do not make wine openers… this is merely an example.)

Last night I experienced something awesome through this team – I got to watch a focus group!! I went to one of our design labs on campus and was able to sit behind the two-sided mirror to see it in action. It was really cool seeing a focus group and what goes on instead of just hearing about it. It was even cooler to see what people did on our side of the double glass mirror. There were about 6 people (including us) and others on this team were invited as well. You could come and go as time permitted, but the people permanently there were typing up notes on the session, actively listening, and talking about what people were saying. It was such a cool experience.

My role in this team overall is to help out with whatever they need and to learn everything I can about the design process. When we host workshops, I integrate myself into work groups and help encourage ideas. We are going off-site next week for a workshop and I can’t wait! This is the department that I am most interested in after graduation and I’m hoping to get as much exposure as possible.

My third project is to work with integrated marketing to compile this quarters’ creative work. What this means is that I need to get every hard copy of creative we sent out this quarter. For example, if we sent someone an advertisement in the mail, I need to find the person who is in charge of that creative and get a mailer from them. Not a copy, not a picture, the legitimate mailer that a customer would receive. This isn’t a hard project at all – it just requires some labor.

My fourth and fifth projects involve pivot tables. I need to deep dive into them and research all of the functions that two of our main pivot tables do. This is really hard to explain (and do!) if you don’t know what a pivot table is. Last summer, I did not know what a pivot table was, so my job was much more complicated. I watched YouTube videos and had many meetings with my boss to learn how to use ours. This year, I know what I am doing so it is much easier. The reason I need to research our two main pivot tables is because one of them is new and we need to figure out if it can do as much or more as the first. (Someone else in the company makes the pivot tables and our department as well as others use them.)

I will be getting more projects throughout my weeks here and I am excited for my plate to fill up!

At my company they are very supportive of networking. Throughout my internship, I am encouraged to meet with anyone and everyone that I can – I can be interested in their area of work or interested in knowing them as a person. Last year I went all out and if I had to guess, I met with over 20 people. This year I am at least 5 already and am trying to brainstorm what else I want to know about the company. This year, my “want to know list” looked like this:

  • Meet the person/people who are in charge of our paid search activities. Find out if we contract it out or if it is in-house.
  • Meet the social media strategy coordinator (I know him-he’s from Wisconsin!) and talk about our strategy.
  • Meet the person/people who manage our brand.
  • Meet the marketing research department and question them about how often they survey and what the response rate is.

As you can see my interests are varied – honestly, I just want to learn as much as possible.

Enough about work – What’s going on in Texas after work!? I’ve made a lot of great intern friends and we hang out every week. We’re doing pretty well with our one happy hour per week and often we get together on a Saturday night and go out as well. Last weekend we went to “Wild West” a bar/dance floor where you can two-step! (Country two-step, not that other stuff!)

Amanda and Friend

Two-Stepping Interns

The great thing about this bar is that because it is also a “dance hall,” 18+ are allowed to enter. This is great for our group because we do have a couple of intern friends who are under 21. I like that we can include them because last year, I was only 20 during my internship and it felt AWFUL when everyone would go out without me.

The intern friends are great because I don’t have many other friends here. Although this is my third summer living in San Antonio, it is difficult to meet friends when you aren’t at school… and it’s not like you can ask someone on a “friend date” without it being insanely awkward. The other great thing about my intern friends is that a lot of them are from San Antonio which means two things: 1) They know all of the best places to go, and 2) If I move here after graduation, they will still be here!

Intern Friend Breakfast

Amanda Tubing

The saddest thing about what’s going on after work is my bedtime. I need to go to bed at 11:00 at the VERY latest to have enough energy for the next workday. I feel like I have no free time to do what I want to do. Someone who hasn’t worked full time might say, “Oh Amanda, you have 5:00-10:00 to do what you want!” Do you know what I say to them? “Hahahahahahahhaha! Are you kidding me?!” This is because although I may be “done” at 5:00, I generally don’t leave until 5:30-6:00. After I get out of the building it still takes me 45 minutes to an hour to get home (traffic). When I get home I need to make supper (I’m trying to be on a health kick) and then clean up after supper. This usually takes me until 7:30. After that, I have a few choices: clean, work out, do some random junk on my to-do list, or do something fun. Usually the something fun doesn’t happen and I end up not knowing where 7:30-9:30 goes. Then it’s time to shower and start to get ready to go to bed.

It’s because of my un-fun weeknights that I make every minute of my weekend the best possible. The consensus among the interns is that we will really appreciate college when we go back. (I thought this last summer as well.) However, I am pretty psyched to have an income… that is possibly worth the boring weeknights.

Only 6 weeks left! I’m sad it’s going so fast.

I’ll have some feedback on my projects for the next post – get excited!