by Lianne Ramahi
This past summer, I had the opportunity to work at General Mills, Inc. as a business management associate intern. This role was heavily focused on data analysis for the domestic western region sales team in Scottsdale, Ariz. Throughout this experience, I was given projects similar to those that would be performed as a first-year associate. I took ownership of impactful projects that added tangible value to the company.
General Mills truly values nurturing its employees through training and constant support and guidance. While focusing on passionately putting out its products and minimizing its carbon footprint, the company also puts its people first, encouraging their creativity and personal development.
Of the projects I worked on, I was most proud of my development of an external sales pitch that was taken directly to our customer, Safeway. In collaboration with my team, I created a deck highlighting data-driven past successes and strategies for both existing and new products in hopes of increasing product distribution. Accompanied by members of my team, I was able to personally present my findings to the customer and land increased product distribution while simultaneously increasing our presence in the competitive landscape.
Without the personal and professional skills that I’ve learned throughout my time in the UIC Business Scholars program, I would have had a rocky transition into my role at General Mills. Had it not been for my close connection with our Business Scholars program advisor who encouraged me to attend the company’s on-campus presentation, I would not have even known about the internship, let alone been offered the position. Beyond that exposure, countless speaker events and networking opportunities hosted by Business Scholars prepared me for handling professional interactions in a structured corporate setting. After taking rigorous courses with like-minded and driven fellow scholars, completing my tasks in a timely and manner has essentially become second nature.
I hope to bring the valuable lessons I learned during this experience at General Mills back to campus for both myself and my peers. While I’m certainly no expert in professionalism, through mistakes and counsel, I learned how to carry myself and present my work in an appropriate manner. I was able to successfully accomplish tasks, ask probing questions, and problem-solve while optimizing multiple resources. Doing well as a student is distinctly different from doing well as an employee, and I hope to take the newfound work ethic, timeliness, and efficiency I learned this summer and apply it to my remaining time as a student and as a professional.
The best advice I can give to students searching for internships while at UIC Business is to constantly be on the lookout. I got most of my internships and field-related experience from personal or word-of-mouth connections. Talk to your peers who have internships. Talk to professors and advisors. Hand-pick internship opportunities from company websites. Go to career fairs and career websites, especially UIC Careers, which is widely-used by some of the most prestigious and coveted firms. As you begin looking for your first internship, remind yourself that you’re not too good for any opportunity. You can learn something from every experience, whether a skill or personal development.
For more information on internship opportunities for UIC Business students, visit the UIC Business Career Center.
Lianne Ramahi is senior majoring in finance and UIC Business Scholar. In the summer of 2017 she worked as a business management associate intern at General Mills, Inc in Scottsdale, Ariz.