Intern Conversion, 2021
Friday, August 12, 2022
Michael Federici was a Sales Intern in the Summer of 2021. Mike managed to shine through his program due to his amazing networking abilities, his willingness to go above and beyond on every project and unmeasured passion for the business.
Below, Mike shares in great detail some of his experiences in Sales.
What was your overall Internship experience here at Mondelēz International?
My internship experience at Mondelēz International was a perfect blend of the company providing a well-planned structure and framework to match my ambitious work attitude and curiosity. The schedule set forth by the early careers team allowed me to see, from the very beginning, the opportunities that would be provided to me throughout the summer. Within that schedule were multiple meetings with senior leaders and executives, which provided me the opportunity to ask questions about what they do, how they do it, and most important to me, why they do it. This exposure to people with many more years of experience in the industry was a big difference from any internship experience that I had received in the past. The second element that impacted my experience was the actual training itself in my daily responsibilities. My sales internship training consisted of learning and experiencing all the local responsibilities to my division, ranging from the merchandiser position to the Regional Sales Manager, and everything in between. Another one of the most important elements I wanted in an internship experience was the opportunity to shadow people so that I could learn about their positions, but especially so I could ask those same questions of what, how, and why, as well as questions about industry specific experience like the “ins and outs” of working with certain grocery store chains. The third and final element that made my summer internship experience so differentiated and beneficial was the realistic and constant support from everyone involved. It was made clear to all of the interns early on, time and time again, that “you get out what you put in”. I took this to heart and took full advantage of every opportunity to meet somebody new or learn more about somebody that I had only met briefly on a call by scheduling my own time with my coworkers. It does seem very intimidating as an intern to personally ask the Executive Vice President for one-on-one time, especially when you are aware of all the daily responsibilities they have; however, it was my regional sales manager and every other senior leader on every call that would always repeat how excited they were too work with interns and that they were enticed to help interns with whatever they needed or were curious about because they felt like it added new life and a new perspective to what they do. It was after the summer was over when I reflected on my experience that I realized that this summer internship experience was truly the best for me as well as the people I had worked with because both parties benefitted from the exchanges created by the structure of the internship. Through the manner that the experience was uniquely constructed, I was able to learn much about Mondelēz as a company, the culture at Mondelēz, and much about myself as well. For these reasons, my experience was nothing short of exceptional.
How did this internship grow you professionally, and what major learnings and/or skills were gained throughout the internship?
My summer internship experience with Mondelēz allowed me to grow personally as well as professionally because of the sets of challenges that I faced throughout the program. First, interacting with people has always been a strength of mine; however, being an intern at an international company with thousands of employees was intimidating to me when I thought about how I would possibly be able to request time and hold a conversation with people who otherwise had very important decisions to make on a national or even international level. Through time in the internship getting to know my peers and the support of my supervisor and coworkers, I learned that everyone I was working with had a mutual desire to meet new people and discuss curiosities about the business, especially in their field or role. I was initially surprised to see how many people loved to talk about their role and how they are making a difference in the company, as well as how easy it was to have discussions with people I was meeting for the first time. The conversations I had turned into a collective sense of belonging and being comfortable with people in a professional setting. From this experience, I learned that I can have a conversation with anyone as long as I am well prepared.
Many of the responsibilities I was handling were responsibilities I was being introduced to for the first time in my professional career. One of the most impactful new experiences for me was the process of going from a sales merchandiser to sales representative. I spent four weeks shadowing four different sales representatives who are responsible for creating inventory orders and shipments for stores in a territory while I merchandised the orders. When my manager first told me I would be doing a vacation coverage for a Sales Rep (meaning that I would be responsible for a whole territory of stores and a team of merchandisers), I was skeptical about my own ability and my readiness for the task. Nevertheless, my managers and mentor assured me that I would not be given the demanding task if they did not believe that I was ready. With their support, I jumped into the role of sales representative. The reflection of my successes as well as areas to improve was equally as important to me as the fact that after the two-week period was over, I had proved to myself that I can do anything even if it seems foreign and challenging at first. This experience coupled with words of wisdom from senior leaders taught me that the best experiences and learnings come from challenging yourself and putting yourself in uncomfortable positions.
Lastly, I have had internships before where it was up to me to reflect on my experience to gain takeaways and strengths and opportunities to grow. In this internship, my reflections were facilitated by an end-of-summer final presentation that I had to present in front of a panel of senior executives and leaders, as well as mentors that had helped me throughout my internship process. In this meeting, I was given the opportunity to showcase all I had learned over the summer, as well as my own abilities and skills in presenting and leading a room by answering questions. It was an experience unlike anything I had ever done before in the professional world, and I am grateful that I was able to leave the internship with knowledge and confidence that I could lead a meeting in the future in my career. Beyond the meeting itself, the research work that needed to be done for the presentation forced me out of my comfort zone, in which I was networking cross-functionally throughout the company and speaking to people in different divisions to create the best perspective possible for my presentation.
Can you tell us about your favorite project this Summer during your internship, and why?
My favorite presentation during my summer internship was the end-of-Summer presentation. For this presentation, each intern was tasked with identifying a problem in the industry as well a solution or multiple solutions for that problem. For my project, my topic allowed me to take full advantage of the resources around me within the company. My topic of waste management was not only affected by the Sales division; I found myself having conversations with people in Sales, Finance, Supply Chain Management, and even Human Resources. This access to people, as well as my curiosity, allowed me to learn about divisions that I previously would never have considered working in. It also gave me the chance to create relationships with people with different interests than myself and increased my perspective on the company, in the sense that so many different people can come together to further the same vision and mission. In addition, the presentation experience was like none other I had ever had in any professional setting, where I led a discussion about my findings and potential solutions in front of people with much more experience than myself. It was a true test of confidence and poise, and the experience has made me believe that I can do that again at any time in the future. Lastly, I felt as though the opportunity to make an impression on senior executives and leaders was unique to this project and this internship as a whole because of the challenges that I was able to successfully overcome and demonstrate to the entire team.
Looking back at all the internship programming, what was your favorite internship event this Summer and why?
I really love to cook and get creative through food. Looking back at the summer internship programming, my favorite event was when the early careers team invited one of the many third-party contractors who incorporates Mondelēz products into foods and recipes to come and speak with us. We had the opportunity to learn about what she does and how there are endless ways to infuse Mondelēz into everyday snacking. At the end of the meeting, she challenged us to make our own Mondelēz-infused creation for an intern contest. For the competition, all participants submitted their creation and we voted as a group. I chose to make Mac and cheese bites using Ritz crackers as the breading for the fried pieces. They came out delicious, but I was even more delighted by the news that my dish had been voted the winner out of the submissions! Overall, it was a great opportunity to do something outside of the normal day-to-day responsibilities and we had a lot of fun as an intern class.
Why did you decide to accept a full-time offer with Mondelēz?
During my internship, I grew a strong connection to Mondelēz and began thinking of them as a family as opposed to a company. Having the opportunity to work with people on a daily basis, whether they are my coworkers or patrons of the stores we service, is one of my favorite activities in life. The brands that I get to work with are exceptional, and it is really cool to me that people far and wide recognize the true household names like Oreo, Chips Ahoy, Ritz, and my favorite, Tate’s cookies. During my time as an intern, I felt very valued, and as time went on, I started to see myself doing this full-time more and more. After that, I needed to look for a position where my hunger for growth and relationship-building could thrive. Overall, I believe the reason that I received my offer and the reason that I accepted a full-time offer from Mondelēz are the same.
Mike returned to Mondelēz at the end of Summer 2022 as a Financial Associate in the Finance Leadership Development Program.