Name: Jessica Chacon
Hometown: Miami, Florida
Major: Hospitality and Tourism Management – Graduate Student
Where are you interning? Bacardi Limited
What is your title? Customer Marketing On-Premise (CMOP) Intern
How did you get your internship?
One of my professors, Dr. Twila Mae Logan, announced a paid internship opportunity to the class. I was very interested in the opportunity and industry; so I prepared myself by updating my resume to highlight my experience and education. With the help and feedback of FIU Chaplin School's Career Services department, I made the proper revisions and applied for the internship program at Bacardi. I also participated in mock interviews, which was extremely useful in helping me loosen up and feel prepared for the interview.
After going through several rounds of interviews with several team leaders at Bacardi, I finally received the call from our HR recruiter to notify me that I was officially a Bacardi Primo (Spanish word for cousin) and part of the family!
What were you doing there?
My internship at Bacardi had us rotating within teams to experience different ways of operating and marketing the business and brands. When I started my internship, I was a part of the brand management team for Dewar’s Scotch Whisky. While working with the Dewar’s team, I assisted with product forecasting and program budget tracking, ideation and planning for a national TV advertisement campaign, measuring and evaluating brand programming, as well as monitoring and tracking market trends for advertising optimization. It was a great hands-on learning experience for brand management, which also helped me develop my initiative, communication, and leadership skills.
During the second half of the internship, I was rotated to the Customer Marketing On-Premise (CMOP) team. This rotation exemplified the difference between consumer marketing and customer marketing in the business. Currently, with the CMOP team, I work with customer Request For Proposals (RFP) and ideate and develop programs for the upcoming fiscal year. These projects have taught me the importance of communication within teams to gather adequate information and insights in order to have an accurate and appealing presentation for the customer. We also work with market managers to establish feasible ways to sell our products to accounts and maintain a favorable rapport with them as well. My current program has been helpful for me to develop my organizational skills, as well as my ability to think critically to resolve customer issues.
Tell us more about your project.
With the customer RFPs, we demonstrate business and consumer insights and how our programs can benefit customers based on the data shown. After evaluating our findings, we connect as a team to conceptualize scalable programs that can either be a permanent or limited-time-offer (LTO) program. We use Bacardi’s many available resources to pull assets for the presentations, such as photos, previous successful programs, and other content. After finalizing the presentation, we create a rundown to prepare us for the day of our meeting. It may take a couple of months to hear back from the customer, but it is all part of the process. When working with the market managers, we keep constant communication on what we can do to improve their work experience with our accounts, as well as provide appropriate updated assets, such as selling sheets and insights, to better drive sales.
How does your internship connect back to your coursework?
I'm in the graduate hospitality and tourism management program with a focus on mega-event management. My strategic management course required us to submit a business analysis paper on a hospitality business, and I chose to make an analysis for one of Bacardi’s current customers, Brinker International, Inc. Since I worked with creating programs for the customer, I thought it would be interesting to use them as a subject for the research. I feel like my classes and internship together have prepared me for my career by having to manage multiple projects, networking with Bacardi Primos and fellow graduate students, and thinking critically and strategically to solve problems.
What is the coolest thing about your internship or that has happened during your internship?
I would say the coolest part of the internship is getting to experience the culture of the industry. Being that we are marketing and selling alcoholic brands like Grey Goose, Martini & Rossi, Bacardi, and Bombay, tasting events and innovation launches are common practices and bring Primos, customers, and consumers closer. Building and maintaining relationships really goes a long way, and I appreciate how Primos are passionate about their roles and are willing to make time to teach you more about what they do.
What have you enjoyed most about your experience?
What I have enjoyed about the internship the most is the real-world work experience I was able to gain with the program. Working with Dewar’s team was a great learning experience and has taught me that I like the role of brand manager. Working with the CMOP team, I also really enjoy that my concepts have been a part of the customer presentations to executives, meaning there is a chance my programs will be used in restaurants all over the country. It’s been an exciting learning experience.
What have you learned about yourself?
I learned that I am able to learn quickly, whether it be a new skill or program. Once I learn something new, I find myself working to really excel in the tasks and projects I work on. Being that this internship has mostly been remote due to the global pandemic, I also learned I work great independently, just like I would with a team. I also learned that I have the potential to be a great leader, and I want to continue to develop my leadership skills.
What advice do you have for those beginning the internship process?
I would say take a chance! Apply for several internships and do not settle for one type of industry or position. There are a variety of internships out there that can help you develop your professional skills. Apply for positions you want, even if you think you might not make it. Anything is possible and there are resources available. Be proactive and prepare yourself by researching the company and updating your resume and cover letters. Use the resources available within your school's career services office or at the university because they can be useful!
How has the position increased your professional confidence?
This internship program has made me more confident in applying my learned skills to management positions in any industry. After interning at Bacardi for about eight months, networking and learning from other Primos, and having full ownership of multiple projects, I feel good about applying to management positions either within the company or externally.
How has the internship expanded your professional network?With this internship program, I connected with other interns, as well as established a relationship with Dewar’s brand management team and the third-party teams they work with as well that do our graphic design and movie product placement. I also networked with Primos outside of the current teams I work with, and they have gladly made time to help me learn organization, excel, data interpretation, and campaign measuring programs. This internship program has been overall a great way to expand my professional network.