My Remote Internship with IBM
Updated: Dec 8, 2020
November 23rd, 2020
By: Claire Tao
Application & Recruitment Process
I walked out of the Wasserman Center feeling hopeless as I replayed my interview answers over and over in my mind. I had just finished my two back-to-back interviews for the IBM Marketing Professional Internship – and I was certain that I had botched them, despite my hours of preparation.
I had applied through on-campus recruiting on Handshake and was so excited for my application to be considered. The interviews were thirty minutes each, both behavioral. One was with the Talent Strategy Lead for the marketing internship program, and the other was with a Digital Strategist on the IBM Cloud team. Both of my interviewers were kind and patient, but I’d rambled in a few of my answers, panicking from the pressure. Oh well, I thought, I’ll still send out my thank-you emails and hope for the best.
Two weeks later, I was in the laundry room of my residence hall, doing about three weeks' worth of laundry that I had pushed off during midterms right, hours before my flight to Detroit for a club conference. I pulled out my phone to set a timer and saw that I had a missed call and a voicemail. My heart raced as I listened to the message; it was from the IBM Marketing Talent Strategy Lead, asking me to call her back. I dialed the number instantly.
This was how I found out that IBM was extending me an offer for a summer internship – standing in the laundry room in my sweatpants, trying to maintain my composure.
For the rest of the semester, I would purposely walk by the IBM office at 88 University Place where I would be spending the summer, imagining working there with new friends and colleagues and exploring the city with the other interns.
However, 2020 brought a whirlwind of unexpected challenges. The growing problems of climate change, systemic racism, and economic inequality were exacerbated by the global COVID-19 pandemic. Instead of traveling to Lima for Stern’s International Studies Program, I spent spring break packing up everything in my dorm room and moving it into storage. I did not know then that I would spend the rest of the year staying at a friend’s apartment attending my classes on Zoom, unable to fly back home to Shanghai to be with family.
Despite these difficulties, I was extremely lucky to still have an internship for the summer. IBM had decided to shorten the internship by about two weeks, but they would still be conducting their internship program remotely.
The IBM Marketing Internship program focuses on collaboration, impact, and mentorship. Interns are placed onto projects on different teams and work closely with one another and with their project advisors. Unlike internships at some other companies, every intern project has a direct, tangible impact on the organization and is designed for future implementation. The internship also includes a series of presentations from people across different areas of IBM Marketing, such as Field Marketing, Digital Strategy, Social Strategy, Product Marketing, Campaign Management, and many more.
Throughout my internship, I was amazed by the number of people who were willing to meet with me one-on-one and share their experiences. The highest level executives made time to speak with the interns and learn about our work, including both the IBM Global CMO and the CMO of IBM Services. We were also each given a “Big Bee” – a “buddy” at work who could give us advice and answer our questions. Even in a remote setting, I had so many opportunities to learn from and connect with others. Despite IBM being such a large organization, I felt that it truly valued its interns and made sure we were able to grow both personally and professionally.
After my first few days of onboarding, during which we did countless icebreakers, played Kahoot, and familiarized ourselves with the company, I learned that I would be working on the IBM Services team with three other interns to create an account-based marketing campaign for IBM’s Worker Insights service to help clients in the food industry, which had been hit hard by the pandemic, return to work safely. Although our team could not meet in person, the four of us talked over WebEx and Slack nearly every day.
Over the course of the summer, we narrowed down a list of over 200 potential clients to focus our campaign on two accounts, using sales data and metrics such as Net Promoter Score. We researched the food industry and generated buyer profiles of the C-Suite executives at our client organizations to gain an in-depth understanding of their backgrounds, pain points, and priorities. To help optimize our positioning, I conducted a competitive analysis of our top competitors’ offerings and marketing strategies. Finally, we put together a three-stage campaign based on the consumer journey, including an email campaign, paid advertising on social media and online publications, and a series of personalized webinars and roundtable discussions.
I was also able to pursue my passion for social impact while at IBM. During the summer, IBM was launching a new initiative – a Call for Code that challenged employees to come together and develop technology-based solutions to support racial justice through police & judicial accountability, policy reform, and diverse representation. Although I was only an intern, the planning committee welcomed me and allowed me to help promote the initiative by creating messaging to engage and encourage participants.
This year, as a Peer Mentor for the Professional Development & Career Education (PDCE) team at Stern, I’ve chatted with a number of students who are applying for internships with IBM for Summer 2021. I’ve spoken with them about my experiences and advised them on the application process. A few weeks ago, I received the following email from someone I’d met with:
While I won’t be returning to IBM after graduation, I am grateful for my experience this past summer, and for the opportunity to pay it forward. In just a few months, I learned so much about dealing with uncertainty, planning a marketing campaign from start to finish, and finding a community within a massive organization. I know that I will bring my learnings from IBM with me to the next step in my career.
If you have any questions or would like to chat with me about my experience at IBM, please feel free to comment below or click here to sign up for a MktSoc Coffee Chat.
Claire Tao is one of Marketing Society's Co-President's for the 2020-2021 school year. She is a senior at NYU Stern, co-concentrating in Marketing and Sustainable Business.