Finding Community in a Corporate World

By: Caroline Quinn

Caroline Quinn ’22 is a senior at Holy Cross majoring in International Studies, minoring in Art History, and pursuing the Certificate in Business Fundamentals. She is also co-chair of the Women in Business club. Last summer she spent ten weeks interning remotely at PepsiCo as a National Commercial Sales Strategist. Since finishing the internship in summer 2021, she now reflects on her experience, lessons learned, and how her liberal arts education and Holy Cross network helped her along the way.

My PepsiCo internship was such a great introduction to the corporate world and has proven extremely useful as I enter the next chapter of my professional life: full-time employment after graduation. Prior to this internship, I had only ever worked at small businesses and start-ups, so the idea of working at such an enormous company (with nearly 300,000 employees worldwide) was a bit daunting. One of my biggest fears was getting “lost in the crowd.” As we all know, Holy Cross is a relatively small and tight-knit community. I was worried that joining a large corporation would mean losing that sense of community. Fortunately, the people at PepsiCo disbanded all of my anxieties.

I found the transition from being a student at Holy Cross to an intern at PepsiCo to be surprisingly smooth. This is largely due to the strong relationship between Holy Cross and PepsiCo. For one thing, after securing the internship in November of 2020, I was invited to and regularly attended the HC PepsiCo Happy Hour– a casual biweekly Zoom call with a dozen PepsiCo employees who attended Holy Cross. This included everyone from Maegan Moriarty ‘20 to Kristen Buonassis ‘11. As I got closer to my internship start date, my relationship with these alumni grew stronger and ultimately provided an amazing support network for the summer. In fact, my mentor in my division (the Allied Brands Team) was Maegan Moriarty ’20. Also, Chris Vandervoon ’19 was one of the Commercial Intern Orientation Leaders. The Holy Cross community within PepsiCo was a huge part of what made my internship such a positive experience. Quite simply, this taught me that I want to work at a company with a strong connection to Holy Cross.

During my internship I also learned the value and applicability of the Certificate in Business Fundamentals. Firstly, the Fullbridge Professional Edge Program proved to be a critical experience for me, as it resembled the structure of my internship on a micro-level. For my project, I was tasked with identifying key opportunities within distribution (the number of stores that sell a particular PepsiCo product), velocity (the amount that each of those stores sells), and portfolio (the diversity of flavors available at these stores). I had to dig into lots of data to identify points of opportunity, similar to the work I did during Fullbridge. Secondly, the Excel Tutorial was instrumental, as it gave me a sufficient understanding of how to organize, navigate, and summarize data. I used Excel every single day of this internship, and I’m happy that I didn’t have to waste precious time on learning the basics. Thirdly, the Global Supply Chain Workshop provided relevant vocabulary and information about the realities of producing consumer goods. PepsiCo sources its ingredients from all around the world, produces its products in several different countries, ships those products internationally, and then sells them in a variety of settings like grocery stores, restaurants, hotels, stadiums, hospitals, and more. This workshop prepped me for conversations about supply chain management. Lastly, the Marketing Communication & Sales Workshop gave me a great sneak peek into PepsiCo as an organization. This workshop was led by a team of PepsiCo alumni who challenged the cohort to create a plan for promoting SodaStream in colleges around the country. Not only did I get better acquainted with marketing and sales in general, but I also saw how PepsiCo employees operated. They were excited and passionate about the product, and they also gave great constructive feedback after the presentations.

I am so grateful for the skills and relationships I’ve acquired during my time at Holy Cross-- they truly made my internship such a positive and enriching experience.