Name: Ana Gabriela Pacella Crespo
Hometown: Maracay, Venezuela
Major: Marketing and International Business
I completed an internship at the toy company Hasbro, Inc., at its headquarters in Pawtucket, Rhode Island. I worked for the Playskool brand, which is the one in charge of preschool toys. I was a global brand marketing intern.
One of my duties as a marketing intern included the analysis of competitors through different tools, such as NPD (National Purchase Diary Panel), a platform that includes sales amounts, quantities sold of each item, price per item, etc., for each competitor. I also needed to constantly be on all kind of social media looking for new trends, discovering what people were talking about, and seeing what was going viral. Retail trips were also very important for the team to know what was new in the market and how the items were being displayed in the different channels (mass, value and e-commerce, among many others). Being a marketing intern also included submitting important documentation to the licensors that we were working with and keeping in communication with them. I coordinated meetings with the cross-functional team members as well such as engineering, financial and design in order to put together some items and new projects.
How did you get your internship?
I got my internship because I attended a Career Fair here at FIU. I am always looking for new opportunities and ways to improve my career, and that is why I always go to events that my university hosts, such as workshops, meet-and-greets with companies, and general and business career fairs. When I went to this event, I wasn’t looking for a specific job or internship. I just went to see if there were any interesting companies to work for, and I am glad I went. I approached the Hasbro table and spoke to their recruiters about my career experience and ended up giving them my résumé.
What advice do you have for those beginning the internship process?
I believe the best advice for those students that are looking for internships or jobs is to start their search as soon as they can. A friend told me that there is no better time to look for a job that when you currently have one, and I totally agree with him! That way, we are not desperate, and we do not accept the first offer that comes to us. On the contrary, we get to choose the one that will benefit us the most. As I said, I was not looking for anything back when I got my internship, but the opportunity just came to me. It was impossible for me to reject it when the firm has such a strong reputation in the business.
What projects did you work on?
Instead of working on a very big project, I was assigned different mid-sized ones that needed to be tackled during the internship. One of them included the analysis of competitors through different data published on NPD as well as the behavior that each competitor was adopting on social media. I had to put together different charts comparing their items with ours, the quantity they were selling, how much profit each item was giving in total, etc. This allowed the team to better understand the market and plan future strategies for our products. I was also required to come up with a presentation on social listening; this means that I had to be constantly on social media and competitors’ websites to observe what they were doing and what was successful.
Coordinating product development meetings was also one of my projects. I needed to make sure all of our items were ready to be presented to our senior vice president.
I also had to maintain constant communication with the regional marketing counterparts since the team needed to know exactly what the retailers were asking to have on their shelves, what products they wanted, what the area of opportunity was, and many other important questions that needed to be answered before proceeding with a new item.
How did your internship connect back to your coursework?
I believe most of the classes I have taken at FIU have helped me to have a better understanding of my career, but I have realized that what I learned in the following classes most helped me through my internship: Marketing Yourself and Communication for Business. Although these courses can be very simple, they really helped because I learned how important it is to sell myself and to know how to talk about my experiences, and also how to network and keep those connections. Communication for Business really taught me the different techniques that are implemented when sending information through e-mails, which is very important when working for such a big company. Everything is solved through email.
What was the coolest thing about your internship or that happened during your internship?
I enjoyed every single task and project given to me during my internship because I feel that I learned a lot, and at the same time I had a great time. What I liked the most about it is that I really felt part of the ideation and creation process for new toys and new identities for the brand. For some opportunities, I had to guide brainstorming for new toy ideas; I really felt part of the process and that my ideas and my creativity were really appreciated.
Another thing that I really enjoyed is that I was able to present in front of many influential and important people in the company such as senior vice presidents, vice presidents and different managers for the other brands, about the new toys that Playskool was planning on launching for the following seasons.
What did you like most about your experience?
As I mentioned earlier, I enjoyed every little thing from my internship, and I have to say that one of the things that I liked the most about my experience is that I got to know so many good people. People that were always willing to help and assist if there was any problem or question. I am not only talking about full-time employees from the company but also all the other interns that I got to know. I am glad to say that we became so close to each other that we planned trips to Boston, Martha’s Vineyard and even Montreal! So, I not only had a great time in the company, but also outside of it. It definitely was a summer very well spent.
What did you learn about yourself?
I learned that I am someone who is very flexible and adapts easily to different situations and environments — something very important, in my opinion, in today’s world if we want to evolve and learn from every situation. One of the things that I had to do to accept the internship, of course, was to move from Miami to Pawtucket for two months. At first, I was not very sure about leaving what have been the same surroundings for my whole life, but I am glad I made that decision. I got to learn so much, had a great time and meet incredible people.
How did the position increase your professional confidence?
I believe it is normal for a student or someone who has not had a lot of professional experience to be nervous while working for a company like Hasbro. At first, I have to admit that I was not confident about talking to the team, sharing my ideas, having conversations or giving suggestions on different matters. I was afraid they were going to think I was not smart enough, or that what I said was not the best option…many negative thoughts came to mind when I had ideas on how to improve a concept or solve a problem, but little by little, and with the help of my manager Kate Sylvia (who was a great coach during my whole internship), I lost my fear of sharing my ideas with the team. I realized that my ideas were very much appreciated, and I liked that.
How did you expand your professional network?
I learned that one of the most important things about completing an internship is to socialize and network as much as possible, especially if it is in your plans to go back to the company you are working for as a full-time employee. It can be a little frustrating because in such a big company, it is hard to know exactly who to network with, but I asked for advice from my manager and she recommended some people. I set 30-minute meetings with everyone I could! People from the marketing departments of other Hasbro brands, human resources employees, engineers, people from finance, digital and design employees, vice presidents and senior vice presidents, among many others. When completing an internship, it is important to complete the work and tasks assigned the best way possible, of course, but also to meet as many people as you can! You want them to remember you when they are looking to fill a position.
How did it help you prove yourself in the “real-world?”
I learned a lot about how things are done in the marketing field once you are not in school anymore, once you go into the “real-world,” and I believe that is really important. It is true that school teaches us a lot, but I truly believe that the best teacher will always be experience. It is important to always go the extra mile and to give our best if we want to be differentiated from the rest and be remembered.