CBPM Internship Interviews—Like a Well-Oiled Machine
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By Tyler Davis
Coming to Wisconsin, I thought I knew what I was getting into. I had done my research. I knew about the Center for Brand and Product Management and I knew what I wanted to do—get an internship, and eventually, a job in brand management with a large CPG company. In reality, I had no idea what I was getting into. I didn't know I was stepping into a well-oiled machine of personalized support from career development, interview coaches, alumni, and the CBPM advisory board members to help us reach our goals.
From the minute I arrived on campus I felt like all the support I could ever need to get my dream internship was at my fingertips. After just one month we started weekly interview training with our two interview coaches, Jackie Swoyer and Natalie Randall, and I soon realized that I would be utilizing all of the support and resources I could throughout the process. I was confident I had the experience I needed to be successful in an internship, but putting that experience into a 30-45 minute interview and emphasizing the right achievements from my past experience was a skill that did not come natural for me. In November and December, several Brand Center alumni as well as board members volunteered to help us with mock interviews. Finding out just how poor my interview skills were was a little hard to swallow, but both the alumni and board members were extremely positive and helpful with their feedback. The support didn't end with mock interviews. Every single Brand Center alum that I met during my first semester seemed more than willing to go out of their way to help us succeed. I talked with a few on the phone about their experiences in the companies they are with as well as the interview process with those companies. As interviews approached, those alumni were also willing to do extra mock interviews with me. I was feeling more confident, but still didn’t know if I could have ever been fully prepared for interview season in the Brand Center, and all that came with it.
I think I speak for all of the Brand students when I say that all of the companies that come to campus to recruit are great companies and we would be very fortunate to have the chance to intern at any one of them. That being said, it makes it even harder to get turned down. Throughout the first week of interviews, this felt like it was becoming a pattern for me. Getting feedback from those interviews was helpful, but in the back of my mind, I was telling myself "whatever you do in this next one, just DON'T get nervous!" If anyone has gone into an interview for a job they really want, they know that is not the mindset they want to have going in. After not getting an internship offer during the first week, I felt like the stakes were higher for me that second week and my nerves about telling the perfect S.T.A.R. story or giving a perfect answer using a marketing framework were consuming my mind. This is where the support kicked in again. Just a few days leading up to my last interview (which, to be honest, was the most highly anticipated for me), I had a mock interview with an interview coach, a second year student who interned at that company, and two Brand Center alumni at that company. Coming out of that interview I felt calmer. It wasn't because I thought I had aced the interview, but it was because I knew I had a lot of people who wanted to see me reach my goals and they were willing to help me get there. That was that well-oiled machine of personal support that has been working for all of us Brand Center students for over a decade now and has helped all of us secure internships. I really appreciate those who helped me along the way and I can't wait to help others in the future, whenever I have the chance. I did get an internship offer from my last interview, although my feedback still included that I seemed nervous during the interview, I was excited that I was able to express my interest to the Kimberly-Clark team, and I can't wait to join them for the summer!