Day in a Life of an Intern

Day in a Life of an Intern

By Pauline Oo

One major challenge facing today’s businesses is the aging workforce. As baby boomers — born after World War II (from 1946 to 1964) — enter retirement, many organizations will feel the impact of their departure, from loss of key leadership to gaps in tacit knowledge or critical know-how.

“There’s a war for talent,” says Norbert Biderman, director of the 3M Industrial Business Group. “And in order to stay competitive, you need to be replenishing your talent pool and recruiting the brightest, and the best.”

3M Inc. has partnered with St. Kate’s Center for Sales Innovation since 1998 to tackle this challenge head on. Its Frontline Sales internship program, which scouts top talent from universities across the United States, has resulted in a fresh crop of new leaders for 3M each year.

“College students represent our future, and it’s pertinent to be able to be engaged with them at an earlier part of their career,” explains Biderman. “We screen our interns pretty intently, and we’re really asking an awful lot of them.” In addition to well-rounded experiences, St. Kate’s students stand out because of a deep entrepreneurial spirit, notes Biderman. “The majority are funding their own education and working to make ends meet,” he says. “I see a lot of innovation with them.

On average, in any given year, we’ve offered three students from St. Kate’s a full-time job at 3M.” Greta Erhl ’15 (business-to-business sales major), Amanda McKee ’15 (healthcare sales) and Maria Camarata ’14 (marketing and management, with sales minor) were the lucky trio this summer.


St. Catherine is the only university in the United States that offers a major, minor and certificate in healthcare sales — and the only one nationwide with a business-to-business sales (B2B) degree designed specifically for women. St. Kate’s also has the only B2B sales degree in Minnesota.

“One of the benefits of our sales program is we literally have more jobs than I have students to fill those jobs and internships,” says Mary Jacobs, director of the Center for Sales Innovation. “Companies find out about us, or our alumnae have done so well in their organizations that they’re prompting the question: Where do I find people like you? I get unsolicited, on an average, two to three calls or emails a week from companies all over the country wanting to learn more about our sales program — and trying to find ways they can be involved with us.”

Jacobs isn’t just welcoming inquiries from companies big and small; she’s hearing, directly or indirectly, from former students.

One recent example is Anna Cline ’07, marketing manager for Flexo Impressions. In a conversation last winter with a colleague, Cline recommended he contact Jacobs about sales interns. The result: That colleague, Bart Prins, vice president at Taylor Strategic Relationships, another division of Taylor Corporation, hired Aye San ’14 as a sales development intern in June.

“St. Kate’s sales program really intrigues me,” says Prins. “The students have a higher degree of professional selling knowledge, and they can hit the ground running when they come to us.” San, he adds, “has great communication and organizational skills.” Today, the 2013–14 student senate president who hails from Myanmar and earned an international business and economics degree from St. Kate’s, helps the Mankato, Minnesota–based company with market research and analytics.
“We have a really strong appetite to bring in interns and have them learn about our business,” Prins says. “Internships typically last a year, and they are not filing paperwork here. We let them own projects and make an impact. Their work is directly tied to sales
growth of Taylor.”

Cline, the alumna who paved the way for this emerging relationship with St. Kate’s, couldn’t be happier. “I can speak from experience that St. Kate’s does a great job preparing students,” she says. “St. Kate’s gave me the opportunity to earn a unique degree that set me apart from other job applicants. I am now very fortunate to be part of Taylor Corporation, and I think the two could build a strong relationship with an internship program.”


The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects employment for wholesale and manufacturing sales representatives (which can include medical and pharmaceutical equipment and products) to grow 9 percent between 2012 and 2022. It has also reported that an additional 132,000 jobs will need to be filled within that time period due to new products and technologies.

That’s good news for all the St. Kate’s students who have chosen to major in professional selling — including Anna Arens ’15, who interned at Upsher-Smith this summer. The healthcare sales major wants to sell medical devices and be the on-call product expert in the operating room. “Sales is fun,” she says, “and it’s rewarding.”

Arens honed her selling chops at Upsher-Smith Laboratories, a pharmaceutical company in Maple Grove, Minnesota, along with two classmates, Brionna Harris ’15 and Alyson Sether ’15. The students were hired to support the activities surrounding a new product launch.

“This experience totally exceeded our expectations,” says Arens. “We thought we’d be stuck with grunt work, like making copies or getting coffee, every day. So we were pleasantly surprised when they told us we would be calling on physicians.” Another surprise: meeting Katies — Meera Ramakrishnan ’04, an account representative, and Michelle Bassington ’03, a regional account manager — on their sales team.

By the end of the three-month internship, the students had collectively called well over 1,000 physicians, physician’s assistants, nurses, nurse practitioners and pharmacists across the United States. They were adept at juggling different time zones and answering all sorts of questions with poise, including how will this product (a topical testosterone gel) help my patient? They were also fluent in, a popular cloud-based customer relationship management system.

“Our students gain a significant advantage from the internship opportunities our corporate partners provide,” says Mary Jacobs, the Center for Sales director. “The internship supervisors at these companies are always impressed by their readiness and by what they’re learning at St. Kate’s.”


Did you know?

There are St. Kate’s alumnae chapters at 3M, General Mills, Hennepin County Medical Center, Ameriprise and Target.

June 11, 2014
Product Launch Day

From the journal of Anna Arens, Upsher-Smith intern

7 a.m.
Alarm goes off

7:30 a.m.
Out the door

8 a.m.
Arrive at event center

8:15 – 8:30 a.m.
Breakfast and mingle

8:15 – 8:30 a.m.
We introduce ourselves and St. Kate’s healthcare sales program

8:45 – 9:45 a.m.
Sales meeting

9:45 – 10 a.m.

10 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.
Guest speaker (former Navy Seal)

12:30 p.m. – 1:15 p.m.
Lunch on the rooftop

1:15 – 2:45 p.m.
Meeting (strategies for selling product)

2:45 – 3 p.m.

3 – 4:30 p.m.
One-Word exercise (What drives Me? Knowledge!)

4:30 – 4:45 p.m.
Closing Ceremony

10 p.m.

Managing Editor
Pauline Oo MLIS Cert’14, MBA'16

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