In this series, we ask current Yale SOM MBA students to share their experiences interning and recruiting for positions in their industries, as well as the resources at SOM that have helped them in the process.
Martha Bull ’21
Education: B.A. in interdisciplinary studies in the humanities from the University of Chicago and MFA in acting from Columbia University
Pre-SOM work experience: Six years as a member of the Theater Faculty at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst teaching acting, public speaking, and interdisciplinary applications of actor training; one and a half years as a writer of memoirs and company histories
Summer internship: Marketing, PepsiCo
Why did you choose to enter marketing?
My background is in storytelling and empathy: I’m a trained actor and taught acting before pursuing my MBA at Yale. Marketing’s focus on consumer empathy and storytelling is what drew me to it, because I knew I could leverage those skills to have a broader impact. While I believe that those sensibilities will always be at the heart of marketing, I love how data guides storytelling in marketing and adds depth to consumer empathy.
What was your experience like during recruiting season?
While some approach recruiting in an incredibly systematic way, my recruiting journey felt more like following breadcrumbs. Mine was an iterative process: I didn’t come to business school knowing for sure I wanted to do CPG marketing. Early on, I did a lot of gathering information on what felt like a fit, both in a company and in a function. I had a lot of coffee chats: some were on-campus, CDO-organized coffee chats (including one with folks from PepsiCo), but most were the result of my reaching out to people—second-years, SOM alums, or others—who were doing things I thought sounded cool, or dovetailed with my experience, or might give me a new insight on my search. Down the recruiting road, I narrowed my focus on networking with folks at a small number of companies that I was really interested in and where I felt I’d be a fit.
How was your summer internship experience?
I had an incredible summer experience! I wasn’t sure what to expect from my virtual internship (which was shortened from 10 to 6 weeks when the move to virtual was announced), but I learned so much about marketing and got a wonderful sense of the company culture. I was on the innovation team for the North American Coffee Partnership (the Starbucks/PepsiCo joint venture responsible for the canned and bottled ready-to-drink Starbucks coffee beverages), focusing on one big innovation project—that I owned—throughout my internship. My team was really great: my manager and “buddy” were incredibly supportive and generous with their time and knowledge—as were all the team members.
Was there a class at SOM that helped you develop key skills for this internship?
The core Customer course gave us a solid background in marketing frameworks and in how to be consumer-centric.
What were some of the most valuable resources at SOM that helped you during your search?
The Marketing Club was really valuable, especially my recruiting prep team, where we learned how to approach marketing interview questions and cases. More generally, I can’t overemphasize the incredible wealth of knowledge the second-years have, or the generosity with which they share it with the first-years. I regularly reached out to second-years for advice or coffee chats, and they always came through. I also relied heavily on the support of the amazing CDO career coaches. Not only did they give great advice and feedback on my résumé, networking, and interview prep, but they were also great sounding boards as I worked through my thoughts on what I wanted to do and where.
Do you have any advice for prospective students looking to work in the marketing space?
Learn how to tell your “why marketing” story well: it’s key for framing your experience and skills as specifically relevant to marketing, but it’s also your opportunity to show—in action—how you shine as a storyteller. Find themes and examples from your background that highlight both your creative and your quantitative skills and that demonstrate interest in human experience and narrative. Give yourself enough time to build your stories: they need to be authentic and thoughtful, not haphazard, so you need time to work on it, give it a break, work on it again, rinse, and repeat.