Summer Internship: Foray into Finance at Schwan's

Thursday, July 27, 2017

For this summer, I accepted a position with Schwan’s Co. as an MBA Finance Intern. Before matriculating at CSOM, I spent six years as an intelligence analyst and Arabic interpreter for the U.S. government via the U.S. Navy and for the year-and-a-half before military service, as a Client Services Manager for automotive digital marketing leader Outsell, LLC.

Joe and his wife Alex, selfie

Joe and his wife Alex

For most of my career prior to my MBA education, I was required to use analytic and problem-solving skills to research, implement, review, and resolve complicated business solutions in addition to mitigating tactical and strategic threats to U.S. government personnel. Carrying this same spirit but with a lack of a quantitative background to my resume, it was very important for me to take an internship that was accounting, finance, and coding-heavy to feel more confident stepping back into the civilian workforce. The MBA Finance Internship at Schwan’s was the perfect opportunity to flex those fledgling muscles in a real-world work environment with a supportive team that consistently challenged me to create better products, empowered me to ask better questions, and who made it a priority for me to understand the company in its entirety, in addition to the minutiae of operations in our Food Service business unit.

Working at Schwan's

On a working day at Schwan's

My first project to create a platform and category reporting tool via visual basic and advanced Excel techniques to automate the financial reporting process and the flow of financial information from finance to sales and marketing. By our midway point in week six, this tool morphed into a product which could provide analytics, which included trends over time, pricing and trade spend information at the SKU level, greatly enhancing the quick analysis capability of marketers and sales planners in addition to providing high-level information to senior leadership team members. My second project was to create a financial dashboard for use by the senior leadership team in the Food Service business unit as well as the C-suite in Shared Services. To create an effective presentation of key performance metrics in the BU, it was imperative that I learn the business inside and out as well gather input from stakeholders across the organization. This project was particularly useful in learning how to tell a story through impactful and concise charts that still carried a large amount of information.

What has been really great about the MBA Finance role is how dynamic it has been because it is the first time Schwan’s has had the position. Because of its nature as a pilot internship, I have been allowed and encouraged to explore the entire business and identify my passions. So far, I have been very drawn to their Product Innovation and Development division and the Stagegate process by which Schwan’s brings new products to market. I really love its cross-functional nature and how the process brings unity to a company with four very different business units.

boxes from cleaning out the freezer

Goodies from Freezer Clean-out days at Schwan's

Finally, I’ve been really grateful to have been placed at a company with some of my brilliant Carlson MBA colleagues. It has allowed us to enjoy scavenger hunts, a day at Valleyfair together, and free frozen goodies on freezer clean-out days but also has been wonderful to support and sharpen one another in our professional/personal development.

Picture with fellow Schwan's interns

Fellow Schwan's interns from Carlson: Ali and Debjani