Gaining Practical Experience for Successful Summer Internships

by Tom Stokes, MBA ’13

Tom Stokes, MBA '13

After participating in the Strategic Marketing Immersion last spring, I headed west to S.C. Johnson as a marketing intern. The Immersion’s curriculum was highly valuable in providing marketing knowledge that would allow me to succeed as an intern, and I believe it gave me a significant advantage compared to interns from other business schools.

The most valuable aspect of the Marketing Immersion was having the opportunity to work on a student-staffed team to solve a real marketing business problem through a semester-long consulting project. Our client, a recent Johnson graduate now at S.C. Johnson, assigned us a legitimate issue faced by his business.

We were required to collect and distill secondary research, interview our client, and analyze Nielsen scanner data. In addition, we developed a survey that was completed by more than 800 consumers, and analyzed the resulting data to segment potential consumers and identify a target.

While the specific activities involved in the project were very useful, the real value came from the experience of developing a compelling “story” for our client. Based on the expertise we had gained from examining a wealth of information, he expected us to guide him through only the essential data that would ultimately inform our recommendation.

A successful marketer must be able to filter a significant amount of disparate information to develop a concise and convincing story. With coaching and insights from Professor Thomas and Professor Park, our client, and marketing executives Warren Ellish and Scott Sainsbury, we cultivated this essential skill.

When I received my project assignments from my manager on the first day of my internship, I felt very well prepared to tackle several complicated issues because of the experience I had gained from the Marketing Immersion. I knew that I would have to convince my manager, through logical and data-driven presentations, that I had the best answers to their business problems.

I carried out my research with the assistance of my S.C. Johnson colleagues and delivered presentations of which I am very proud. The team-based practice I experienced prior to my internship was indispensable to my success.