November 22, 2013
“I love the warm atmosphere here, the togetherness. You know you can count on anyone wearing blue or gold,” said Molly Summers, a senior marketing student from Flemington, W.Va., a quiet town roughly 35 miles south of Morgantown.
“I was familiar (with the area) but it wasn’t my home, so coming to Morgantown was definitely a new experience. I’m a PROMISE scholar, and WVU was just far enough away, just big enough to get the college experience I was looking for without putting financial burden on my family,” she said.
When she began her collegiate journey, Summers started out in general studies and later switched to exercise physiology before deciding to join the College of B&E.
“I had a moment where I realized I didn’t want to be wearing scrubs and tennis shoes. I decided to check out the business school. I met with (academic advisor) Brian Chang who was wonderful and influenced me to go after what I wanted to do and encouraged me that I would find opportunity there.”
At the beginning of this semester, Summers participated in an on-campus marketing competition hosted by Dr. Paula Fitzgerald.
“It was a great experience. At 8:30 in the morning, we were given a sealed envelope with a company with a problem. Three other colleagues and I had the whole day to put together a scheme or plot for them to turn things around, to come up with a marketing concept for them. It was a lot of fun,” she said.
“It really gave me the opportunity to put everything that I know from all my classes to use. It was more engaging than sitting, listening and studying. I realized I’m actually learning things that I can put to use.”
When Summers graduates in May 2014, she will head directly into the workforce at a Fortune 500 company: PepsiCo. After interning in sales at Pepsi’s Fairmont, W.Va., location last summer, she was offered a full time position as a sales associate.
“I’ll know soon where my placement will be. Either Knoxville, Tenn., or Fairmont, W.Va. I wouldn’t mind to stick around (in Fairmont),” she said with a smile. “The internship there was a fantastic experience.”
“Just from (the internship) experience alone, I could envision everything from my classes in real-life situations. Especially my distribution class — I had seen every bit of the business from production to sale,” she said. “I didn’t quite realize how much I was gaining from (my internship) until my professors started talking about things like sustainability. I could see it all in my head,” she said.
As an intern, Summers worked on a variety of projects, including the evaluation of 38 underperforming vending machines and the recovery of $3,680 in assets.
“It was my job to visit each location (of underperforming machines) and determine whether to change the product in it based on how it looked, how old it was, where it was located, what product was in it, what the foot traffic was like,” in an effort to improve sales, she said.
She was also given a list of customers who had purchased from Pepsi in the past, but were no longer placing orders. You see, when a customer buys a product from Pepsi, they receive a complimentary cooler to keep it in. Pepsi has the rights to the cooler, and will service it at any time and will keep it stocked.
“I would call (the customer who hadn’t ordered in a while) and ask if they’d like to place an order,” Summers said. “Most of the responses were that our prices were too high and they were instead buying in bulk. They didn’t understand that placing Pepsi products in our cooler did not mean that we were making any profit. So it was my job to explain to them that the extra price includes the cooler, its maintenance and the delivery of the product. I had to explain that if they were not willing to buy the product from us, we would have to take the cooler back. It was hard. Communicating that while being polite and professional forced me to think on my feet,” she explained. “Good business is important to me.”
Her role at PepsiCo, as well as her past work experience in the service industry, has given her valuable lessons in customer service, communication and teamwork.
“I have definitely learned customer skills, to understand their needs and please them to the max to the best of my ability, but to also keep the business protocols and guidelines,” Summers said. She also said things run smoother and easier when you are working with others and communicating effectively.
At B&E, Summers’ favorite topics have included sustainability and innovation, and she particularly enjoys her sustainability class with Dr. Fitzgerald and her MIS courses.
“(In business), you have to think in a way that’s going to make sure (your business) is still around, but also to get ahead of everybody else. You have to think of new ways to do things better and more efficiently.
In addition to her love of new technology, Summers said that business ethics was of utmost importance to her. So, she joined the Business Ethics Club, where she serves as secretary.
“I am really all about character, and honesty, integrity. I wanted to get involved, and I thought this could be somewhere I could really be happy with helping,” she said. “This semester we’ve been working on community service projects.”
For Summers, her dedication to good business and ethical actions comes from her upbringing.
“My dad has always been one to stress integrity and honesty. (My parents have) brought me up in a way where that’s expected. It’s something I would feel guilty not doing. How you’re brought up is really a huge factor in what you become, and I feel they’ve done a wonderful job in shaping me into that person.”