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MBA Summer Internship Reflections: Mars, Inc.

Tite Jean-Pierre, MBA Class of 2018, is spending her summer as an associate brand manager at Mars, Inc. She shared her perspective on her first month on the job.

What was your first day like?
The first day was phenomenal! Although I had visited the Mars Petcare office twice before, it was never as a full-time employee and an official 2017 summer intern. Mars is a learn-by-doing company with structured learning scheduled throughout the internship. On the latter half of day two, we went to our desks and I received a better ‘welcome to your desk’ reception than anyone else. The office is an open setting and is dog friendly. As I arrived at my desk to greet my marketing team, the cutest dog ran up to greet me. He was at my feet jumping and wagging his tail and would not leave until I gave him some love! I found out a few seconds later that his name is Allister, the mini schnauzer of one of our marketing directors. I’m not sure if the marketing director put him up to it, but it was a welcome for the books!

What were your first few weeks like in general?
The first weeks consisted of many meetings, kicked off by a meeting with my line manager and a briefing on the scope of my project and expectations for the summer. The saying ‘drinking out of a fire hose’ is sorely overused, but information certainly was coming quickly and steadily as we strived to get an understanding of our brands, a deeper understanding of the company culture, and attend the continual training on our calendars. It was refreshing to attend the events to unwind, get to know our fellow associate brand managers, and familiarize ourselves with the cities of Franklin and Nashville.

What are you working on?
I am working on a product within the company’s GreeniesTM brand – pet treats and dental care for pets. I am working on the Pill PocketsTM product “a nutritious treat for dogs and cats that contain a built-in pocket, for hiding a tablet or capsule.” My project is well within the realm of a typical marketing role, as I strategize with my team to raise awareness of Pill PocketsTM.

What is the culture like?
The Mars culture centers around building strong relationships. The results and bottom line are not the only things that matter to the company – how you achieve those results are also crucial. The company is privately owned by a family that fully believes in the Mars Five Principles. Mars is one of the pioneers of the open office setting, as associates in all levels have the same style and size desk as a VP would. Our executives are either connected to a multi-desk with us or are just a few steps away and always open to dialogue. Although there are moments of brief silence, the office is usually buzzing with conversations between the marketers and teams. As a person who deeply values relationships, Mars is a great place to be!

What is one concrete way Simon’s curriculum has prepared you for your internship?
What I learned throughout the progression of the Communicating Business Decisions sequence comes to mind. In particular, something that Professor Carol Shuherk would say in the persuasion course (that I was originally skeptical of) was “consensus is key.” Getting your team to buy in — not to just agree with your statement but to fully believe in it with unanimity — were the strong overtones of that class and are concepts that also ring true at Mars. The company truly believes in building relationships and collaboration. What I learned in that class over the entirety of my first year as an MBA student was crucial to understanding and seeing the fit for myself in a company driven by those same beliefs.

What are you liking most about your internship?
I am loving the day to day surprises that can come with being a marketer. Although I start my day with an agenda, I have learned that the ability to deal with the unexpected and adapt to ambiguity are important skills. Unexpectedly, I was tasked with a project for my brand that included tapping into my creative skillset to brainstorm a slogan. Marketers don’t typically go into brand management for the creative aspect of the career, but having a creative mind and being able to jump-start creative conversations and give direction that fosters an environment for creativity is certainly a component of the career, and I have loved seeing the level of engagement required to balance the art and science of marketing in my role.

What are you finding the most challenging about your internship?
My internship, like most summer internships, is only about 10 weeks long. As short as that sounds, it becomes even shorter when you are balancing your time for work and your project, making quality connections, and getting to know the city you might permanently move to in just a little over a year. My project is stimulating and challenging, but having worked full time for a few years before business school, I find the challenge of hard work and high expectations welcome and invigorating. I am finding that maximizing the 24 hours we are all given in a day –and not being able to add just one to two more! — is the most challenging part of my summer.

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  1. Rawel R. Bautista says:

    Great article,thank you for sharing your experience.