Majors: Marketing, Canfield Business Honors
Position: Marketing Intern
Topics of Interest: Ethical Design, Artificial Intelligence, Entrepreneurship, Urban Youth Mentorship
Your ability to network in any profession is a key way to enhance your career. It helps to get connected with the right people at the right time. Just as technology is moving fast so are the people behind that revolution. You need to be quick and nimble if you want to catch them. However, it’s easy to get caught up in the rough-and-tumble when you’re hustling to find your next big job or looking for your next career-changing network connection. Sometimes what you need is perspective and time to take a step back to understand where you are in your career to find out where you want to be.
Madison Mohns is a senior at Canfield BHP. We recently caught up with her about two great life events she experienced this summer. She talks to us about her time at IBM as a Marketing Intern working on interesting, data-driven projects and highlights some of her favorite memories she made while studying abroad in Spain.
Tell me a little bit about your internship.
This summer, I worked as an intern in the marketing department at IBM. You enter the program with a formal group of interns from all across the US. Throughout the program, there are roughly six marketing hubs. I had never been in an internship with others who worked on similar projects with me before. I was always either the only marketing intern or the only UX intern.
I really enjoyed being able to collaborate with people that were above me (in terms of their experience and their expertise). Equally, it was great to work alongside different people who could provide a new perspective coming in. Getting the best of both worlds horizontally and vertically from a mentorship standpoint was really cool too.
At the internship, I started off by being assigned to a project team. Each project team had three interns. Various sponsors oversaw the different teams. Specifically, my project involved ongoing work to improve the talent acquisition process for marketers. For me, that meant that I was in charge of the user experience for our new marketing careers microsite. For example, I worked a lot with usertesting.com and other tools to make sure that all the insights that I was coming up with were backed by data.
It was really interesting and exciting to be able to work on a really creative project while also having to back it up with hard skills and diving into the analytics-of-things. It was somewhat of a holistic approach to figuring out how to improve the process, which was a little shaky at the time. Although IBM is a large corporation, we got to start from the ground up and experience things from an entrepreneurial standpoint. This made it feel a little bit more like a startup which was cool to experience with a company like IBM.
What drew you to this opportunity?
I’ve always wanted to go into the tech industry because I find it super interesting. I’m really passionate about artificial intelligence and how it will change in the future. A lot of things surrounding ethics within technology are really interesting to me too. I wanted to get through the door and into that space. I’m not sure if marketing will be my end-all-be-all because I really want to end up in a product management role down the road.
I think it’s a great opportunity to go into a large corporation like IBM, which has many resources available to allow you to spend time with so much talent from across the board. You can expect to find someone within the company that does what you want to do. Having an open space to ask questions from a mentor is really great too. As much as you’d like to be 100 percent ready on your career decision, you still have many unanswered questions. Especially, when you’re at this stage in your career search. That’s why I was drawn to IBM in the first place. It’s such a wide-reaching organization. I had a lot of questions going into it but I felt confident that I would come out of the internship well-equipped with a better idea of where I want to go.
Based on what you experienced, how can students with similar interests get involved in an internship like this?
The good news is that technology is at the forefront of people’s minds at McCombs. We now have several resources for people to get involved. If you want to get a job in tech, you must build your network out. Tech companies are so competitive at this point, and from a business perspective, they’re hiring mostly people with a technical background.
If you don’t have a technical background, you need to upscale in that area. That’s going to take a lot of initiative on your part. Additionally, you’ll need to have an enterprising spirit to move that part of you forward. Because they are mostly recruiting for those technical roles, you really do need to stand out with your business background. Anything you can use to start training that will help to bridge disciplines is really great. That might mean integrating different kinds of coursework into your curriculum or getting involved in organizations that might not necessarily be your first skill set. Be willing to learn, to have a growth mindset and lastly, get to know people by being curious and asking a lot of questions.
Great advice! Moving on to your studies abroad; how did you find yourself in Spain?
I’ve always been passionate about the Spanish language. I started taking Spanish when I was in high school but I had been working in underserved communities with a mostly Latin population. I picked up on it at an earlier age and that’s what got me started. I didn’t even take Spanish in college. I learned most of my Spanish from what I learned in high school and it just came naturally, which was a gift for me and really exciting.
When I started to pick my study abroad programs in college, I knew I wanted to go to a Spanish speaking country. My options were Latin America or Spain. I’ve never been to Europe before so it was an easy choice to pick Spain. Plus, I thought it would be great to be able to travel and experience Europe while immersing myself in the Spanish culture. I really got that in Madrid and it was a super great experience.
I lived with four native Spanish speakers and three other girls from the US. It was really cool to have a bilingual household. We got to sit around and get to know each other. You find a lot of commonality across people with various backgrounds. It was interesting to experience that in a completely new environment like Madrid, which is such a large city. Each little neighborhood has its own unique flair and character. Walking through the streets, you feel like you’re in a new city every fifteen blocks. I really enjoyed living like a local.
What classes did you take while you were in Spain?
I took two marketing classes, an international business class, and an operations management class at the Comillas Pontifical University – ICADE Business School. I thought it was great that every class was taught with a global perspective. Most students in my class were exchange students but local students attended our class as well.
In Europe, international trade is so prevalent because all of the countries are so small that this kind of trade automatically has to be integrated into how they do business. The knowledge I’ve gained from my CBHP courses and what I’ve learned about how all of these different units work together to create and sell products has been really fascinating. Taking that foundation of knowledge I had and elevating it to have a special perspective on global business has essentially augmented the experience that I was getting here at CBHP.
What advice do you have for somebody that’s juggling too much but wants to be involved in something like this?
I made this a priority. I’m a very, very busy person and do far too many things. I really need to control myself. However, I made a lot of sacrifices to make the time to be able to do this. For recruiting, that meant I had to go hardcore in the fall so that I’d have an offer. This meant that I didn’t have to go recruit when I’m abroad in the spring. It also meant I had to take a lot of courses upfront so that when I went to Spain and didn’t have the number of course offerings there, I was well prepared to make most things count.
You also have to think about it a lot and in advance. If you are a busy body person, which is a lot of people in CBHP, we’re ambitious individuals that really want to capture every opportunity that this university offers us. What I really valued out of going abroad was that you don’t have to be focused on extracurricular activities, you don’t need to be focused on getting that job, and you don’t need to be focused on everything that we’re normally concerned about like going to office hours, running to your extra job, and then doing your internship.
When you go abroad, you get the time to take a break. You get to understand that sometimes business causes a lot more stress than it’s worth. Sometimes inducing emptiness into your life can be scary but by doing that, you get to actually reflect on a wonderful experience. That’s what you get when you go abroad. However, you have to put in the grunt work to actually get to that point. And when you’re finally there, you get to reflect and apply that mentality going forward, which is really nice.