Confessions of a Summer Intern: Amanda McLernon’s Journey

Amanda McLernon, a UW-Whitewater Marketing major, completed a Market Analyst Internship with a large company in the financial industry. This was her second internship with the company, and she jumped at the chance to return to San Antonio, Texas for another summer.

Amanda worked on several different projects. And at the end of her internship, she was chosen to be one of three interns to have a one-on-one with the company’s Chief Marketing Officer.

Just in case you missed it, read Amanda McLernon’s internship journey this summer:

Amanda McLernon

Intern Friend Breakfast

Amanda Volunteer

Amanda Meets CMO

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Bonus Confession: My 15 Minutes with the CMO

Just as Amanda was wrapping up her summer internship, along came a great  opportunity that she wanted to share. Here is a bonus summer intern “confession” from Amanda on her meeting with her internship host’s Chief Marketing Officer…

The last week of my internship I received an awesome surprise – I was one of three interns who got the privilege to have a 15-minute one-on-one with the Chief Marketing Officer. The agenda for the 1:1 was primary contributions, lessons learned, and dream job in marketing.

Although I am a confident presenter, this was no ordinary meeting – I needed to practice with my AVPs (assistant vice presidents) to make sure my presentation was perfect. I practiced upwards of 10 times and made sure I was able to answer follow-up questions comfortably. I enjoyed practicing, because I really liked my AVP’s and knew that their feedback was helpful. In the past I have been told that I talk too fast and, with their help, I was able to adjust my talking speed to something easier to listen to.

Amanda Meets CMO

On the day of the meeting, I put on my brand new suit and Louboutins and got ready to present my topics. I can’t say that I was nervous – but I was very excited! When I got to the meeting, I was able to cover my contributions thoroughly. He was very interested in the work my co-intern and I did with the segmentation guide and most of our conversation focused on that. I’m glad we were able to talk in depth about the guide, because it was a very large project and I was very proud of it.

The 15 minutes flew by and before I knew it the chat was over.  We weren’t able to talk about lessons learned or my dream job in marketing, but I am very pleased with how much we talked about the segmentation guide. I had prepared a takeaway, so although we could not talk about all topics, he was able to read the short bullets I had prepared (Always leave a takeaway – I was very glad I had one prepared!). He thanked me for my participation in the internship program, and the meeting concluded.

I was incredibly grateful for my opportunity to meet with the CMO and for my internship opportunity in general. I now have no fear whatsoever when handing someone my resume, because I have amazing experiences that I can stand on. The internships I have had have given me confidence and experience – a combo I appreciate greatly.

Confessions of a Summer Intern: Leaving Texas…for Now?

Amanda begins to wrap up her summer internship. In case you missed it, you can catch up with her time interning in Texas in her June post and July post.

Summer is quickly winding down!! I am excited because I have some great things coming up in the next few weeks (Going to Miami on vacation and going to Connecticut to visit some friends), but I am also disappointed that I have to go back to school. I really enjoy being employed and feeling like I am a part of the working world. I also enjoy earning a paycheck and not paying thousands of dollars per semester for school. Needless to say, I cannot wait to graduate.

Although the internship time is winding down, my assignments, deadlines, and meetings are not. Last Thursday, I had meetings from 8am to 5pm straight – including a lunch meeting! Things are a little hectic right now. I have a deadline this Friday for the book project that I am a little worried about. Although everyone is busting it trying to make the deadline, there are constantly edits that need to happen – understandably so. I really hope we can make the deadline, because if we do then I will be able to see my production in print.

So what else has gone on in the last few crazy weeks? A lot! On Facebook/Twitter, I promised you that I would write about Flo, the iconic spokesperson for Progressive Insurance. I do not work for Progressive, but one of the executives that is in our marketing department used to work there. He is credited with the creation of Flo and in a “fireside chat,” all of the interns were able to hear the story.

Flo was created a few years ago because the creative team at the company felt like shopping for insurance was lacking something big. Unlike other expensive products, insurance is intangible and consumers are not able to “feel” their product unless a claim was needed. Insurance was, and still is, something that people need – not want – and the shopping experience was not fun. The creative team started to brainstorm how insurance would be sold if it were tangible…. What kind of store would it be in? Who would sell it? It was out of this brainstorm that Flo was born.

If you’ve ever seen a Progressive commercial you know that the store is very white – as are all of the products. This was done because it was brainstormed that insurance was “clean” and “tidy” and with the color of white, it created the feeling of cleanliness. On the backdrop of something so “clean,” Flo is able to pop, with her blue apron and red lipstick stealing the show. Flo is eccentric – making insurance more fun that it had ever been – while still delivering a strong product.

Although it isn’t an out-there story, it is still very interesting to see how Flo came to be. I wonder if, when they were brainstorming the character, they had any idea hundreds of people would dress up like the character-to-be on Halloween?

What else to tell you!?

Oh, the other day the CMO popped into my office and invited me and two other interns to a meeting with Google. Imagine our shock! The CMO?! Google?! That adds up to a meeting that CANNOT be missed. Google came in to talk to us about social media and Google. I prepped for the meeting by reading many SEO documents and learning everything I could about Google + (I have an account but don’t really use it). I was so excited for the meeting that when it finally came, I was a little disappointed. I’m not sure if it was because I had built up too many expectations or if it was because it was more like a sales pitch then a meeting. Either way, it was still fun to see what they had to say.

Last week I went to volunteer at the food pantry with a group from work. Iit was nice to get to know people out of the office and work at the same time.

Amanda Volunteer

Tomorrow I have a meeting with an interviewer – No, not a real one sadly. I am mock interviewing with an executive who also happens to be an interns’ dad. He does do real interviews and challenged our group to have one of us do it in front of everyone. I’m a little nervous, but overall I’m fine because I love interviewing. I’ll just have my boyfriend do a couple of practice questions tonight to make sure I’m prepared.

I’m sick of thinking about work (it makes me tired), so I’m going to write about Texas and some of the fun things I’m doing!

First and most importantly: I’m getting a puppy!!!!!!!!! I found a breeder down here that is breeding long hair cream miniature dachshunds… exactly what I have wanted for the last three years. I had a really hard time finding a breeder in Wisconsin, so I am very glad to have found one here. The mother is pregnant right now and is due August 23. I will be able to come get the puppy in October and it will live with my mom until I graduate in December. I can’t wait!!! I went to see the breeder and the mom and dad of my puppies on Saturday. My mom, who is visiting from WI, and my boyfriend went with me. It was about 45 minutes away in Marion, a typical cute small town.

This is my puppy’s mom. She’s pregnant with him now!
Amanda & Dog

My mom visited this weekend, which was great – she did my dishes!  (I enjoyed having her for other reasons too, don’t worry!) We went to the zoo, the Japanese Gardens, a bunch of restaurants, and went horseback riding. We had a great time together and it was nice to have a relaxing weekend.

Amanda & Mom Riding Horses

I don’t know when I’m coming back to Wisconsin yet – I’m trying to squeeze every minute I can out of Texas. The last few weeks should be a blast – especially after August 2nd (my end date), because then I can really play!

It will be sad to leave my internship but am hopeful that this is not the last I will be seeing of the company…. :)

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!

Confessions of a Summer Intern: Meet Amanda McLernon

Amanda McLernon

Hey Y’all!

I’m Amanda McLernon and I am a Market Analyst Intern in San Antonio, Texas. This is my second summer in this position and I am excited to share my experience with others. Due to a very strict privacy policy, I cannot reveal the name of my employer at this time. However, in my later blog posts I will be able to. (I need to have each blog reviewed by the company and because I started on May 29, they don’t have enough time to review this post.)

At UWW, I am a senior and will graduate this December. I have previously been involved in RHA, NRHH, and various other activities. I currently work for the Royal Purple selling advertising space. I am a marketing major and am excited to be completing a marketing internship.

One question that many people have is “Why Texas?!” I understand that San Antonio is a long way to travel for an internship, but I have never believed that a person should be limited to “close” cities when they search for a job. I chose my employer because they have a fantastic internship program and are financially stable… meaning that the possibility for a job would be strong.

I was nervous about moving to San Antonio last summer, but quickly made many friends and enjoyed my time here. I was fortunate to stay with friends both summers, however my employer was willing to help me find housing (an apartment) if I needed one. I was also given a “long distance bonus” which made coming down here very easy for me. I have fallen in love with San Antonio and would love to move here after graduation.

I started my internship on May 29. The first day was a training experience that all interns were required to attend. The training itself was repetitive because it was literally the exact same from last year, but I was glad to have the time to bond with the other interns in my department. After a long day of training the interns in my department decided to go out to dinner and to watch the Spurs game together. San Antonio is about as crazy for the Spurs as we are for the Packers. We had a great time and enjoyed getting together outside of work. We decided that we would try to get together at least once a week.

The other interns and I at BJ’s Brewhouse watching the Spurs game!
Spurs Game Fun!

I’ll write more about my internship and my specific job responsibilities as soon as I can – apologies for the temporarily vague post. I value my job and thus respect my employer’s privacy policy!