Though I’m sure that I’ll be sharing my experience along the way, I thought that I’d first share what allowed me to earn such a fantastic opportunity.
In March 2012, I was accepted into the Brand Management Mentorship Program at the Sauder School of Business. With only a vague sense of what I was getting myself into, I committed to working as hard as I could in the program. No opportunity would be missed. If anything, I wanted to be able to complete the program with no regrets and the assurance that I had given it my best shot. So, what exactly is the program and what is it like to go through it? Here’s a few facts to give you a sense.
#1. It’s a mentally exhausting program.
Especially as a second year who had yet to declare my option (I was still torn between Finance and Marketing), the program forced me to take a hard look at what I wanted out of my career. It forced me to answer scary questions about what I’m passionate about and whether I was willing to drop the comforts of living in a beautiful, familiar place (Vancouver) to join fiercely ambitious people vying for Brand Management opportunities in Toronto.
#2. It’s an honest, informative look into Brand Managements, and also into the CPG industry.
I originally felt that there was no place for me in a corporate behemoth like Unilever. Before the program, I hadn’t peeked into the organizations to see the cultures that fuel them. The BMMP showed me that the CPG industry makes a huge investment in career development and has a core focus on supporting a culture that attracts bright talent. Not only this, but the program introduced me to companies like Kraft who embody an entrepreneurial spirit, despite pulling in billions in sales. Throughout the program, and especially my visits to and interviews with CPG companies in Toronto, I discovered that Brand Management and the CPG industry fit my personality more than I expected. Rather than having to sacrifice my excitement for the startup spirit, I’m going to be able to bring that to Kraft, because it fits their mindset.
#3. It will make you a better marketer and businessperson overall.
Before joining the BMMP, I had only taken Introduction to Marketing. Now, I have earned top scores in my marketing courses (I’ll have completed 4 this school year), and have earned a Sales & Marketing scholarship for my success. I’m able to discuss marketing and develop ideas in new ways because I have the vocabulary and the intuition to back it up. If I hadn’t taken part in the BMMP, I might have been just another kid in class rifling through the textbook. Unlikely, considering I’ve never allowed myself to stagnate for too long, but I probably would not achieved so much so quickly without the program.
#4. It will refine your resume and interview skills.
If anything, this is one thing you can bet on when joining the program. Though I’m not ashamed of what I was sending out before the program, it was light-years behind what I have now. This is not only because I developed new skills throughout the program that I could add onto my resume, but also because I was taught how to better present my experiences; I learned how to brand myself. In terms of interview skills, confidence is key. The BMMP prepares you rigorously for the types of interview questions you might be thrown and with so much practice, you not only learn your marketing content much better, but you also gain the confidence in your skills that is necessary in order to show your best self in an interview.
#5. It could land you your dream job.
Once you’ve trekked through the mental work of figuring out whether or not Brand Management is actually for you, and once you’ve sufficiently exhausted yourself with resume edits (3 official rounds) and mock interviews (countless hours of practice), you might actually land your dream job. This is assuming that after all the figuring out, you decide that Brand Management is your dream job. If you make it through the mock interview round, the BMMP will send your resume out to Toronto. This is when you get to cross your fingers and hope that all the work paid off. If you manage to land interviews, then you’re off to Toronto for a week to meet companies and interview for awesome internships. And if you’ve worked hard enough and the stars align, you could be signing on the dotted line of a very exciting opportunity. And even if you don’t make it to the Toronto round, you’re now chockfull of new knowledge and the skills you need to hunt down the next great opportunity. That’s what makes the program so great. Even if you don’t land something right off the bat, it has armed you with what you need to keep working at it so that you can land something in the future.
So where am I now? I’m creating a checklist of everything I need to survive and succeed during my 4 months at Kraft in Toronto.
Am I scared? Of course.
Do I think I’m growing? You bet.