Field Sales Intern with The Hershey Company
As college students, we are often faced with the daunting question of what our summer plans are once school lets out.
When people asked what I was doing this summer, I proudly told them that I was interning with The Hershey Company as a Field Sales Intern. What never got old was the smile that lit up my listeners’ faces after hearing my response. Of course, this smile was followed by questions of how much free candy I was getting, and if I was living in Hershey, Pa., also known as the sweetest place on Earth.
The answer is yes, I got plenty of product. An intern has to know what they are selling, right? And no, I was the Field Sales Intern for the Columbus District, which meant plenty of time on the road driving because we do not have a home office in Columbus.
In my position, I oversaw an open territory that spanned the southeast portion of Central Ohio. I was able to manage Hershey’s two biggest accounts, Walmart and Kroger, while working with key decisions makers in each of my stores to ensure that our product was merchandised in A+ shopping locations.
In the 18 locations I covered, I made sure stores were executing summer displays as negotiated by higher ups. Some of the displays that drove our summer sales included the Taste of America Twizzler flavors, newly released Reese’s Outrageous bars, Ice Cubes Glitter Gum, Hershey’s Chocolate Syrup and S’mores six pack chocolate bars. I also had the opportunity to forward sell in different displays and points of interruption for incoming products that would help boost sales even more in departments where there may have been a deficit.
How I Got Here
Believe it or not, going to internship and career fairs, such as the upcoming autumn fair held by Ohio State, can really help you land an internship, and more important, a job. This spring, I noticed The Hershey Company was going to be at the career fair, and as a chocolate connoisseur and someone who had visited the town of Hershey once before, I thought I would see what they had to offer. In my initial conversation with company reps, the only position available was a sales internship. Being a Strategic Communication major rather than a student in the Fisher College of Business, I immediately dismissed myself as a competitive candidate. I was quickly corrected by the reps as their intern at that time was a comm major. Fast forward through that conversation, an in-person interview, an on-site shadow day, a month of waiting, and the call that I had been selected.
What I Learned
I have learned various lessons in my 10 weeks with The Hershey Company, and they can be applied to more than just a sales internship.
One of the most impactful takeaways was to have confidence in my abilities and the product I am trying to sell. Whether the product is chocolate or personal skills and abilities, young professionals trying to become established in the workplace can hear “no” quite often. This can be rather deflating. I try to remember to not take it personally, be resilient and not take “no” for an answer. Persistence is key.
A second takeaway that I picked up was that cultivating relationships is never a waste of time. No matter who this relationship may be with, putting in effort and showing that an investment in someone and their success or the successes of their future can help tremendously in reaching end goals.
My third and final lesson would be to think outside the box and be flexible. Very seldom do things work out how I want, so when obstacles arise, I get creative and figure out the best way to work around them. I call on the resources I have and fake it until I make it.
Nathan will begin his senior year at Ohio State this fall.