This summer, Julia So found out that student internships are good for more than just work experience. Through her work with Kent Pet Group, Julia gained marketing skills, as well as a refreshing new perspective. Read her narrative to see what Julia had to say about making changes, staying curious, and being the hero of your own story.
Wearing my KPG polo and showing off my new favorite pen
This summer I had a virtual internship with Kent Pet Group and their brands World’s Best Cat Litter and FibreCycle. From May to August, I worked with their incredible marketing team to carry out research for new product development, gather consumer research, and conduct market analyses. I led in depth interviews, analyzed surveys, and created presentations. I attended a virtual conference for market researchers, participated in a product development workshop, designed a large-scale survey, and more. It was certainly a busy summer marked by exploration and growth! My internship left me feeling energized and ready to start the next chapter of my life.
I knew I was extremely fortunate to still be able to complete my internship, but like countless others, the pandemic had left me discouraged and uncertain of the future. Adapting to the sudden shift in the semester had left me feeling burnt out, and it was frustrating to feel that I had lost control of my own ability to focus. By using checklists and using a flexible schedule to structure my day, I was able to build up my stamina again. I was progressing at a good rate and staying on top of my assignments. I enjoyed my work, and it helped to distract me from feeling overwhelmed by what was going on in the world.
The virtual meeting for the my final internship presentation
Part way through the summer, a conversation with my talented supervisor, Beth Flickinger, shifted this mindset. During one of our weekly one on one check-ins, she was discussing product marketing and how a good marketer is also a good storyteller. A common mistake that brands make, she said, is that they position a product as the hero of the story instead of the consumer as the hero. Your product is meant to remind the consumer that they had it in them all along to overcome their problem. After all, unless it is in the hands of a worthy hero, the legendary sword will not slay the dragon. The goal is to empower your customer and provide them with the tools they need to be the star of their own stories.
If the stories we hear from others can impact us so much, what about the stories we tell ourselves? I realized I had been taking a passive role in my self-narrative lately, wondering if things would get better and trying to keep myself from fixating on the negatives. I was determined to explore how I could make things better and focus on the positive again. There are so many incredible moments in life that we lose sight of when we get caught up in our troubles. It is so easy to forget to appreciate bright laughs and deep breaths and to leave paths unexplored, because we are in such a rush to be where we think we ought to be. We have so much more control over the direction of our story than we think, and we should take the liberty to fill out our pages as much as we want.
An outdoor farewell lunch
With this renewed sense of spirit and encouragement from Beth, I began to be bolder in my curiosity and taking an even greater sense of ownership and excitement for my work. Instead of just worrying about checking things from my checklist, I reflected more on the project process which made finishing projects even more satisfying and intensified my fascination with marketing. I became more confident in asking and answering questions and took my new experiences to really consider what I wanted to do in the future. I even brought that energy into my personal life, going on more walks and trying new skills.
The remainder of my internship flew by and before I knew it, my final presentations were complete, and I was packing up my at-home desk. We had a socially distanced lunch to celebrate a few peoples’ last day, and I received a card signed by everyone on the team and a gift bag filled with all sorts of adorable cat themed stationery. At the bottom of the bag was a box holding a pen engraved with my name. It is officially my new favorite pen, and I have brought it back to campus. It is the perfect reminder of my most valuable takeaway this summer: the belief that I have the power and tools to write my own story. I might not know what will happen, but I believe I have what it takes to shape my narrative. I am so grateful for my internship experience with Kent Pet Group and for everything it has taught me.
I would like to give a special thanks to Brooke, Nichole, Lindsay, Jean, Steve, and most of all, Beth, for a wonderful summer! I am so grateful to have worked with all of you and appreciate how kind and welcoming you have all been.
My name is Julia, and I am a junior from Muscatine, Iowa. I am double majoring in Marketing and Business Analytics with minors in Rhetoric and Psychology. After college, I would love to go into market research and consumer insights. On campus I am involved with the Multicultural Business Student Association, Tippie Business Honor Society, the Conversation Center, and the Global Engagement Student Advisory Board. In my spare time I like to draw, play ukulele, and perform with the all women improv team, Janice!
Edited by: Anna Magaña, Honors Student Admin