When a Summer Internship Leads to
a Marketing Career

Jessica Lindor, '09, who concentrated in marketing, had a background in consulting. Planning to switch careers, she chose Chicago Booth to prepare her for her next step. A summer internship at Kraft Foods gave her a taste of consumer packaged goods marketing, one of many experiences launching Lindor on her career as a brand manager.

Preparing for Today’s Marketing Challenges

I wanted to prepare myself for a new career in marketing. When I spoke to brand managers in the field, the actual work was highly quantitative—and becoming increasingly so. Chicago Booth has taught this forever, so I knew I’d work with lots of data. And the more comfortable you are working with data, the better marketer you can be. I knew Chicago Booth would definitely prepare me for that challenge.

Also, I liked the fact that recognition of Chicago Booth’s approach to marketing is on the rise. I knew I’d have access to top faculty. I also felt like I would be able to make more of an impact, especially as the Marketing Group co-chair. With a leadership role, I’d have the opportunity to help shape what the group does.

A Career Change: Marketing Strategy

I didn’t have any previous marketing experience, but I knew Chicago Booth would help me make a career change. I worked for Deloitte Consulting in the strategy operations division. I got a close look at different industries and also worked on various projects, from health care to the wireless industry.  The one thing I really liked about all of my projects was that they dealt with understanding customer needs and figuring out how to make your product meet them, which is marketing strategy. That’s why I chose it as my focus at Chicago Booth.

Bringing Innovation to an Internship

I was a summer associate brand manager at Kraft, assigned to the California Pizza Kitchen (CPK) brand. In assessing the competition, I looked at what CPK could do to expand its space in the market, what new customers they might go after, or what new regions they might try to expand into. Within three weeks of my presentation, we heard from the sales staff that our competitors were expanding to three places I had predicted.

I was also asked to turn an individual serving of barbecued chicken into a three-pack for Costco. Originally, I thought it was fairly simple—taking an existing product and putting it into a bigger package for the customer. Instead, I was also involved with forecasting sales and figuring out when our manufacturer should produce the product.

A third assignment was bringing the consumer to life. I came up with the idea of creating a website—a tool that could be used by everybody at Kraft who needed a really good understanding of the consumer. I was on a road show my last week, showing it to people outside the brand team. That felt good because I saw it wasn’t just an intern project, or something only the brand team would use.

Coursework Laid the Foundation—Fast

Not having come in with marketing knowledge, my fall quarter was key in helping me pick up the terminology and also apply it, which really helped prepare me for internship recruiting. I knew about the four Ps and the three Cs and the different frameworks because the marketing strategy course gave me the entire framework for analyzing problems. In spring quarter, I took data driven marketing, which was much more data intensive than anything I’ve done before. We used Nielsen data, so I understood what all the terms meant before I got to Kraft. 

Taught to Question Everything

During the internship, I realized how incredibly comfortable my fellow Chicago Booth students seemed with data and analysis. I think this can be attributed to the analytical nature of both the marketing course work as well as the other classes. Since Chicago Booth students are taught to always question everything, I think we’re better equipped to think outside the box.

What’s Next: Putting It All Together

I plan to work in brand management at Kraft. What I like about marketing is that you make the recommendations and you have to implement them. People speak at a very high level of what marketing is, and it isn’t until you actually experience what brand managers do that you understand how they facilitate and drive an organization’s impact.