I really can’t believe that the summer is already coming to a close. Before I return to the Wisconsin School of Business and the A.C. Nielsen Center I have spent some time reflecting on my summer here at Wrigley; the ways in which I’ve developed both personally and professionally in only 10 short weeks are really mind boggling. Throughout my summer I have kept a separate notebook from the one I work in to jot down things I think will be useful reminders for myself and tips for our first-year counterparts that will go through this whole song and dance next summer. I’ve paraphrased a few of those bullet points here.
Break it Down
For me, my summer at Wrigley represented a lot of firsts. First time working on the client-side. First time ever being in Chicago. First time working at a company of this size. For the first couple of days at the office, the biggest struggle for me was matching faces to names and remembering what everyone did. Staring at massive responsibility trees or thinking about your summer project it’s easy to get overwhelmed, but any time I started to feel myself slipping towards a panic I used some of the most basic skills taught to us in our marketing research classes. Instead of considering everything that needs to happen at once, break it down into steps. This makes something that may appear very daunting seem much more manageable. Consider what tools or info you are currently working with and what you need to move onto the next step you have outlined. Identify which steps are time-sensitive and which can be reprioritized until later (which I guarantee you will have to do). Then start working down your list. You’ll get to the end before you know it.
Find Your ‘North Star’
I borrowed this point from Christopher Frank and Paul Magnone’s Drinking From The Fire Hose but this was one that really helped me out. As researchers, it is easy to suffer from information overload. If you ever find yourself falling down the excel data rabbit hole, take a step back. Consider what the ‘big picture’ question you are trying to answer is. Think about whether the information you are killing yourself to find is a ‘must have’ or a ‘nice to have’ to prove your point – sometimes you may even realize that it’s neither. Too much data is often not your friend.
Get Comfortable Being Uncomfortable
Aside from some awesome opportunities to do some really interesting research, one of my summer-long projects was to organize and present at a future trend conference for roughly 80 of our associates here at Wrigley. Considering the largest event I have ever planned for someone else was by best friends 18thbirthday dinner at Olive Garden (fancy I know), it wouldn’t be a stretch to say this made me more than a little uncomfortable. But I pushed through, and planning that conference was the highlight of my summer.
I think that to do the internship right you should be a little uncomfortable each day. You will sit in meetings with very senior people you don’t know talking about things you have never heard of before. Write it all down. Figure it out later. Fake it till yah make it. You only have a few short months to take it all in, push yourself to get the most out of it every day.
I mean this in two ways. Trust yourself to stand up for your opinions when they are well founded, and be confident enough to ask questions when you need to. One of the most important things a researcher can have is a (well thought through) opinion. If you have done the research and can ground your opinion in facts you should feel confident voicing it, even to those more senior than you. Disagreement isn’t disrespectful.
Also no one expects you to know everything right off the bat. Trust yourself enough to use all the resources at your disposal – specifically your coworkers, who are a wealth of information. Take coworkers up on their offers of help and feedback. People notice this type of thing, and they respect it.
Live it Up
I can’t stress this enough. This summer is about figuring out what life in a marketing research role would be like at your chosen company and in your chosen city. Don’t neglect the life part. I mentioned earlier that this was my first time in Chicago and I wanted to make sure that I used this time to explore an awesome
new nook of the country – maybe even figure out if it’s somewhere I could live.
I could say a million great things about Wrigley but one of the best things I can say is that they walk the talk when it comes to making sure their employees have a good work/life balance. While working on my awesome projects I had plenty of time to get sunburned on the lakeshore beaches, sweat it up at Lollapalooza, and attend dozens of street festivals. I’ll remember that just as much as the work I did.