Gaining hands-on experience can be difficult when the world has gone to conducting most business and education virtually.
Two students didn’t let that stop them from pursuing internships this past summer. Tyler Grimm, a senior with a double major in Professional Sales and Organizational Management spent about 80% of his internship with Schwan’s Company in a virtual mode and 20% in person. Amanda Wulf, a senior with a double major in Marketing and Professional Sales had a completely virtual internship with Land O’ Lakes, but it included several in-person team lunches.
No matter the format of their internships, both students were extremely successful in their endeavors. Grimm’s supervisor at Schwan’s Company was so pleased with Grimm’s performance that Grimm was offered a full-time position as a territory sales manager after he graduates in December.
Wulf received high praise from her supervisor at Land O’ Lakes. “She was impressed with my ability to excel in such a different format of work, as this is something that she too was working on adjusting to,” Wulf said.
“One of the best compliments I received during my internship was during my end of summer intern presentation to the entire company. Our vice president of sales came on and complimented me on my work ethic, communication, and presentation. He told me that I was the first UMD intern they ever had, and he thanked me for ‘putting the Bulldogs on the map and setting the bar high’.”
Wulf was extended a full-time job offer in the grocery retail division of Land O’ Lakes as a customer insights and analytics analyst and will start June 1.
As intern territory sales manager, Grimm’s time was spent “focusing on increasing sales of existing and new products, making calls/visits to major operator customers, working with brokers to coordinate activities that would enable Schwann’s to penetrate markets, ensuring accurate operator sales activity reports, and shadowing and assisting in sales planning activities that included going to market, setting strategies, and attending meetings.
“Being in a sales role, I had the flexibility to choose my schedule 80% of the time,” said Grimm. “I was able to start and end my workday when I wanted as long as I completed my work for the day/week.
“When the internship was in person I would meet my supervisor at our broker’s office in Chanhassen, Minnesota, or make sales calls to Twin Cities’ schools like North St. Paul High School and Minneapolis Public Schools.
“I feel as if I really excelled at the customer face-to-face interaction when it came to selling products,” said Grimm. “I also excelled at using platforms like Salesforce and Excel thanks to the knowledge I gained in my LSBE Sales Analytics class.”
Grimm’s plans include getting an MBA and taking a national account manager career path with the hopes of becoming a director or vice president of sales within the next ten years.
As a Dairy Foods Division sales and customer insights intern, Wulf worked on four core projects—half focused on the retail side of the business, like Target, Kroger, Walmart, and Whole Foods, and the other half focused on the food-service side like for restaurants, schools, and hospitals.
“Despite the virtual environment, my internship was very hands-on,” said Wulf. “I was having daily check-ins with project managers to ensure whichever project I was working on was going in the right direction. My direct manager and I had weekly check-ins to touch base on my goals and project work. I also had one intern that I worked closely with on all projects. She and I chatted daily to touch base on project timelines and tasks.
“I found my projects fulfilling because each of them was a task that any of my team members would’ve had to tackle if I would not have done it,” said Wulf.
“One of my most challenging, yet rewarding projects was looking at the impact COVID-19 had so far on the Land O’ Lakes portfolio, as well as the retail industry, and what we could do moving forward. Although this was research-heavy, I was able to see a tangible impact from my research on the business.
“Another project I worked on was analyzing the college and university channel and pointing out areas of opportunity to sell product that were based on fluctuations and seasonality. I found this project enjoyable because I was able to use my experience as a college student, as well as Land O’ Lakes’ information to pull insights and make recommendations.
“I found my biggest success around presentations and communicating my ideas to key leaders,” said Wulf. “It is one thing to go out and do research, but it brings it to an entirely new level when you are able to persuade leaders to adopt your ideas and make change.
“I have the LSBE sales and marketing classes and professors to thank for preparing me for this internship,” Wulf said. “I went into the summer feeling confident, and that I had the technical and soft skills needed to succeed. Furthermore, I felt like I understood the technicalities of navigating an internship. LSBE professors are doing an incredible job preparing their students for the real world!”
Both Grimm and Wulf offer insights for others who are venturing into internships, but it’s also great advice that most anyone could use at a regular job.
“Stay organized and manage your time well,” said Grimm. “It’s easy to get sidetracked from your job when you're working at home.”
“Three of my core tips for other students who may be interning are to be agile, add value, and ask questions,” said Wulf.
- Be agile. Challenges will arise daily. Your ability to be agile and overcome them is crucial.
- Add value. Small actions such as picking up an extra task with your free time and asking your manager to help out can go a long way.
- Ask questions early and often. Make a list of questions throughout your day or week and ask them all at one time to a manager or mentor.
PHOTO: Amanda Wulf (right) and fellow Land O'Lakes Intern, Nichole Boegeman.