Monday, February 4, 2013

"What Did You Do Over Winter Break? I Went On A Trek!"

First Year MBA, Consumer Marketing Academy

“How was your winter break?  What did you do?” were common questions heard in the hallways of Kelley during the month of January. While it was tempting to do nothing but relax with family and friends over the three week break, a lot of us first year students chose to participate in one or more of the student-led treks over winter break.  At Kelley, treks are completely designed and organized by students. As a co-leader on my trip, it was my job to uncover company contacts that would be willing to host us and plan all of the logistics for getting the group of students to the right places at the right times. 

Trek visits are helpful to a) meet people that you might not have met at past networking events, b) further show your interest in the company, and c) assess the company’s culture to see if it’s the right fit for you.  This year we had treks organized to visit companies in the following cities:

  • Chicago, IL
  • Southern California (greater Los Angeles area)
  • San Francisco Bay Area
  • Minneapolis, MN & Madison, WI
  • New York, NY
  • Detroit, MI

I had a great time on the Minneapolis/Madison trek with fifteen of my classmates. On our first day we visited General Mills, where we toured the Betty Crocker test kitchen and had a Q&A panel with a few Assistant Marketing Managers. In the afternoon we went to Target’s headquarters for a networking lunch with some members of the buying team, a tour of the office, and a case study on toys. We ended the day with a happy hour at Chino Latino, one of Uptown’s best lounges and restaurants for the young professional crowd.

Day Two proved to be just as fun and interesting as our first day: We spent the morning at 3M’s headquarters and toured the Innovation Center, which I liken to a science museum that focuses on 3M’s history, products, and technologies.  It is seriously the coolest place – we got to watch a movie about the company in their own mini-IMAX theater, complete with leather reclining chairs!  Afterwards we toured one of the office buildings and had the opportunity to network with about twenty people who worked in marketing and strategy roles in the company.   

Our second company visit for the day was with Land O’Lakes.  We participated in a cheese sensory evaluation and a marketing case study about how to work with advertising agencies on developing and selecting the best print ad for a new product launch.  We finally bid the Twin Cities farewell and caravanned to Madison, WI to get a good night’s sleep before the next day’s visit.

Day Three was all about B-O-L-O-G-N-A:  We had a great group of Oscar Mayer employees host us for the day.  Several people spoke to us about various topics, such as how to make the most of a small marketing budget when working on a small brand.  The SVP of Marketing at Oscar Mayer even came to talk to us about her career with Kraft and answered any questions we had.  The day ended with our hosts treating us to a dinner at one of Madison’s best restaurants, Graze. 

Finally, on Day Four, we packed up our things and drove back to Bloomington in time for the start of spring classes.  My winter break flew by much too quickly, but the trek was definitely a great way to wrap it up!  Which companies do you want to visit on a trek when you’re a first year student this fall?


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