Coming from Florida where surfing is a regular occurrence, I never would have thought that starting my internship at WhiteWave Foods in Colorado would have been so similar to my previous beach life. The internship has been a lot like learning how to surf a wave for the first time. It’s scary, intimidating, and difficult, but so great when everything clicks and you finally get up and ride that wave.
I am now a third of the way through my internship and I will admit, I am just now getting my paddle technique down, but I have already learned so much. I have the support of weekly surf instructors (managers and directors) and there are always lifeguards to help me so I don’t drown (shout out to my mentor), but a big part of my experience surfing the internship has been understanding the ocean on my own. Some key lessons to riding the wave I have learned so far:
The Fundamentals are Important
Surf Lessons AKA Marketing Courses are a Necessity
Coming to Colorado, I was so excited to learn more about WhiteWave and the dairy-free yogurt category (my project focus). I was eager to get to work and dive into the brand management CPG world. As I began collecting data and laying out the strategy for my project, I kept going back to the basics. Things I learned during my first year at Wisconsin, most specifically the marketing classes and applied learning part of the Center for Brand and Product Management have helped me tremendously. So many things have been great foundations and frameworks to turn to during my research and planning. I am so grateful to have the knowledge and the tools from school that I have needed to be successful!
Know Exactly What you are Trying to do Before You Dive In
I thought I was trying to“paddle board” when I really needed to “surf”
We all make mistakes, and I will be the first to admit mine. It was exciting and scary for me to learn how impactful my project would be for the company moving forward. With my sole project being innovative, strategic, and analytic, I was very eager to jump into my project so fast that I wasn’t even sure exactly what I was doing! After realizing I was going too deep and broad too soon, I realized I needed to take a few steps back. A few follow up conversations with the right people got me back on track to exactly what the end goal of my project was; what answers needed to be answered, and how I was going to go about it.
Take it One Step at a Time
Each Motion is Vital to the Next
It is so important to set goals and objectives for yourself. Whether they be daily, weekly or monthly, it is smart to keep yourself on track. Given an interesting project that I am excited about, having goals helped prevent me from getting overwhelmed and doing everything at once. Breaking it down and working on one component at a time really helped me to start on the next step successfully.
Along with these lessons already learned, my favorite thing about the internship thus far is working for a company that truly wants to make a difference in the world. I am so lucky to have the opportunity to not only be in an amazing location with genuine people, but to also work on brands that I am truly passionate about and are changing the way people eat. As much as I am looking forward to standing up on the internship surf board and riding into shore; the lessons, obstacles, and successes along this “White Wave” have been a great experience in itself. Surfs Up!