Meet the Mspark 2018 Interns: Part 2
The following article is Part Two of our two-part blog interview series with our Mspark summer interns. Check out Part 1 here.
The Mspark Internship program is open to current college students in a variety of fields. Interested applicants were able to apply through the Careers Section. This year’s intern class is focused on several departments throughout the building.
“This is the first year we have explored college interns and it has definitely been a valuable experience for both Mspark and the interns,” said Anna Marie Chapman, Vice President of Human Resources at Mspark. “They each brought a different perspective and added so much to their area of focus. We plan to continue to offer more summer internships and full-time opportunities to recent college graduates.”
Mspark: Tell me about yourself
I am a marketing major at the University of Alabama originally from Helena. I’m starting my sophomore year at Bama, so I am excited to get into more business and marketing aligned classes at the upper division level. At UA, I’m a member of Alpha Delta Pi sorority and studying in the Honors College at the Culverhouse College of Business. In my free time, I like to explore new restaurants around downtown Birmingham or Tuscaloosa and visit places with fun live music.
I am a going to be a sophomore in college, as well as going into my second year of being a collegiate athlete for swimming. I love to be outdoors and hang out with my friends, as I feel it is the easiest way to keep yourself busy. I also love to travel, I have yet to go out of the country, but I would love to travel to Australia and one day move there. Not only because of how beautiful it is but also because it has become one of the safest countries as well as one of the healthiest.
I’m a second-year student at the University of Michigan, studying Computer Science. I’m a more indoorsy type, preferring to play video games with friends, listening to music, or keeping active by catching up to a show while on the treadmill. I guess a winter in Ann Arbor, MI, will just get you into a kind of hibernation (laughs). That said, I can enjoy a walk with my dogs or a football game in the Big House without any trouble. I’ve always been interested in computers and technology, having been the go-to person for help from friends and family for help, which led me to want to study CS.
I am a student at Grand Valley State University, currently majoring in the school’s general business program. I’ve switched majors a few times because I did not go into college knowing what field of study I wanted to pursue, let alone what career within that field. So, I decided to get a business degree. Business really interests me, and a business degree is applicable to a wide array of potentially lucrative careers. I am very competitive, so I enjoy playing pool, and basketball with friends. I also watch a ton of movies, old stuff, foreign stuff, new stuff, really anything I can find.
MS: What have you learned here that isn’t taught in any of your college courses?
MF: Real work experience is one of the most valuable things to someone trying to figure out what they want to do career-wise. This job has taught me a lot about being in a real work environment that might reflect the kind of place I could be working at in the future. Although it seems insignificant, learning things like managing time, communicating through emails, following a dress code and prioritizing tasks are all simple things that I wouldn’t have been able to fully understand without this job. I also learned skills using Excel and other tools that will be applicable for the rest of my professional career.
BC: I have learned that the real “full-time working job” that supports all your bills is nothing like having a high school job – it’s ten times more work, but in a good way. I also learned a lot of Excel functions while interning here. I learned to do a little bit of Excel from my Economics class in college but nothing like I have learned here. Also, to be able to take that information and see it be used by the sales force in their CRM was cool.
CM: It’s been very interesting getting to see how office life works and how the interaction works between departments and people. Interning in IT has been a good way of getting to interact with everyone from the reclusive software developers to the more outgoing folks in marketing and everyone in between. It’s also been great to see how teams and departments work within themselves, as even though I had worked in groups at school, it was never in an environment like this.
MB: The biggest thing I’ve learned is how offices function and how simultaneously integrated and compartmentalized an office is. Some departments interact heavily with others, but some departments have more unilateral lines of communication with the rest of the office, and each department has its own sort of personality. Also, with all the shadowing I did, I have learned lots of specific skills, especially with Excel, that were not taught in my classes.
MS: What are your thoughts on the direct mail industry? Not only from an Mspark intern perspective, but also as a young adult who makes purchasing decisions every day?
MF: The psychology and reasoning behind advertisement is what originally drove me to an interest in marketing. Being able to see this process from the inside has been such an interesting and eye-opening experience to me. This company has completely sold me on direct mail because I have watched the entire process and all the thoughts and data that go into every decision here, and I certainly believe that the idea behind hitting the markets that make sense for your company is a sure way to get the most “bang for your buck” in advertising dollars.
BC: Before I came here, I had no idea that print was such a big deal because growing up in the digital age I had always thought that online was much bigger than print, boy I was wrong. From just the few weeks I’ve had here I have learned that print is one of the leading ways to advertise a company.
CM: There’s a lot of effort that goes into ads that help smaller places get your business, and the ads can be surprisingly creative. On top of that, you have to get your mail from the mailbox at some point, even if just to stop it overflowing. Having something tangible rather than spam emails is an important point that I hadn’t really thought of.
MB: Before working here, I was indifferent toward direct mail. However, since working at Mspark, I have reconsidered—mostly because I have given it more thought. For instance, I never thought about the degree to which I block out any advertising that appears online or on social media and how, although I don’t pay much attention to it, direct mail does a better job at catching my notice.
MS: Speaking of purchasing decisions…we know you guys have enjoyed some of the best food in the Southeast just being here for the summer. Do you guys have any favorite restaurants in the area?
MF: Being a local to the Birmingham area has given me a leg up on this for sure but I have tried to share some of the inside scoop with Britney, Michael and Coop!! Personally, I love Cajun Steamer in Hoover and the Pizitz Food Hall downtown for something casual.
BC: The first couple of days I was here I went to all the staples that I had never been to. I went to Taziki’s and Whataburger. In Alabama they have one store that is known for Paleo food called The Joyful Food Co. and it was amazing as well.
CM: To be honest I haven’t really tried too many different things around here as far as cuisine goes. I’ve eaten my fair share of fast food places, national and regional ones we don’t have up north. I did get the opportunity to go to the Village Tavern near The Summit and that was fantastic.
MB: I did get to enjoy several fast-food chains that do not exist in the north. I tried Jack’s, Milo’s, Bojangles’s, and Chick-fil-A. I realize there are Chick-fil-a restaurants everywhere, but I’d never had it before and it’s like a religion in Alabama.
MS: Looking ahead in the years to come, what are some of your top-priority career goals?
MF: Although I’m not married to a traditional marketing job just yet, this internship has helped me to realize that I would enjoy a job in this field. I think I would do best in a job that allowed for a lot of interaction with people daily. My time at Mspark has also helped me to realize that when I start looking for a job I should pay close attention to the work environment of the company so that I can hopefully find a place that is (almost!) as fun to work at.
BC: My top priority career goal is to just make sure that I am happy with what I’m doing. I don’t want to go to a job where I feel like it’s a chore going to work every day. I also want to work out of the country, that is a big goal for myself as I want to not live out my life in the United States.
CM: As far as career goals, I want to have a career that challenges me and requires me to problem solve. I want to be in a career where I work with people, maybe even in a leadership role. Most importantly, I want to do something I enjoy, not something that bores or frustrates me. And maybe I’ll even do something to help the world.
MB: My biggest career goal is to be in a position that is not just perfunctory; I don’t want to be forced to use a set or static method for whatever it is I do. I want to be in a position of leadership, or at least one where I can apply my own creative or critical thinking to problems. Beyond that, I would like to be comfortable financially before I’m old and my joints start to hurt, and I end my evenings at 7:15.
MS: In what way(s) do you think your internship with Mspark has prepared you?
MF: My internship here has prepared me in several ways both small and big. As I mentioned before, the work experience has helped me to understand and feel comfortable in a corporate environment and to have appropriate expectations for simple things like email etiquette and dress code. It has helped me perfect basic computer and technical skills, like working in excel or fixing a printer error. But the most important thing this internship has done for me is to help me understand the inner working of a marketing company and to see the reasons behind different marketing decisions. Working here has helped me to prepare for a job in any marketing field by teaching me the effects of marketing on every single company that does business here.
BC: Mspark has prepared me in general to start my working life. I know that not every company is like Mspark where you can dress however you want and all the people won’t be as nice. More than that Mspark has prepared me for what comes with having a real-life job and that means deadlines and hard work. It’s not easy to work full time.
CM: Mspark has helped me understand what it’s like to work in a professional environment. On top of that, it’s given me the opportunity to see different aspects of what working with technology is like, and the different paths I can go down with a Computer Science degree. It’s been a great chance to fully immerse myself in a workplace that is corporate yet modern, and a great glimpse into what could be in my future.
MB: I’m more prepared for office life and have gotten a lot of perspective as to how different departments function and interact with each other. I have also learned how to use Excel for many tasks that I imagine are common to most businesses. Also, as far as entry level positions go, I’ve learned that being proactive in seeking out work is very important if you want to learn more about a business or establish yourself.