Former Entrepreneur Meets Brand Management

Today we have a guest post from Emily Palmer (Class of 2016), a former entrepreneur and talented artist who really transformed her career over the summer thanks to an amazing Brand Management internship at Talking Rain. She came back to Foster in the Fall with a much deeper level of insight into the consumer and I just had to find out how she was able to grow so much in such a short amount of time. Hear more about her story and her internship experience below!

Emily Palmer at Talking Rain

On the last day of Spring quarter, I accepted an offer from the Talking Rain Beverage Company (TR) as their first MBA intern in Brand Management. The position was created by one of TR’s Brand Managers, Frances Youn, who is also a Foster alum. Overall, I had a fantastic experience, which was largely due to Frances’ thoughtful and organized approach to my work plan. She developed two projects for me to tackle: first, a go-to-market strategy for Sparkling ICE Tea brand in the convenience channel; second, a graphics update to the Club channel multipacks. The latter project eventually expanded into a broader analysis of their business in Club.

In the first two weeks, Frances set me up with around ten one-on-one interviews with employees throughout the company. This was great for helping me understand the company and the resources available to me. She also trained me to use IRI, which is a consumer scanner database that tracks measures like Dollar Sales and Sales per Point of Distribution across the country. The work was data heavy, and necessitated my development in analytical thinking. As someone who had barely opened Excel prior to business school, this was an excellent challenge and precisely what I needed.

Throughout the summer, I was given a great deal of agency and freedom to tackle my projects, in the context of a team that was very open and willing to help me along the way. Because of the small, entrepreneurial, and fast-growing nature of the company, opportunities to make an impact are abundant. On my last day of work, I gave a presentation to the Leadership Team on recommendations I had developed that would affect a significant portion of their overall business. These recommendations were then presented at the national sales meeting, and are likely to be implemented soon.

In addition to giving me valuable work experience and analytical skillsets, TR is just a fun place to work. The Brand Management team currently consists of 10-15 people, and is located in a building named “The Garage” for its two garage doors that get rolled up on nice summer days. The Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) has his own office, but everyone else sits at desks in an open floor plan. The result was that my coworkers and superiors were highly accessible, and I got to know them all well. The atmosphere is fun, colorful, and slightly irreverent. Group lunches in Issaquah happened frequently, and the team often met up at a bar or movie on weekends.

Frances told me in the beginning of the summer that a successful internship is one where the intern feels like just another team member by the end of the summer. The CMO John Peirano set the tone by constantly including me in meetings and soliciting my opinions. I was offered a full-time position two months after my internship ended, as well as a part-time offer for the rest of the year. While I have chosen to accept a different full-time offer for next year, the decision was tough. Talking Rain has a fantastic team and culture, and provides incredible growth opportunities for anyone looking to experience the intersection of formal brand management strategy and entrepreneurialism.

For more stories from Foster MBA students about their summer internships, check out the Internships category To learn more about marketing and other career paths that Foster MBAs gravitate towards, check out the Career Paths resource from Foster Career Management

About the Author

emily palmer portrait Before Foster, Emily Palmer (Class of 2016) spent seven years as an entrepreneur in the arts in Chicago, which cultivated a deep passion for community engagement and environmental sustainability. Now at Foster, she is focused on marketing and strategy, and is a Chapter Leader in the Foster Net Impact Club. She hopes to one day contribute to sustainability initiatives within the industrial farming sector.