Albert P. Carey, CEO of PepsiCo Americas Beverages, grabbed a sandwich, a bag of chips and a can of Pepsi Next and ate lunch on April 23 with nine undergraduate and MBA students and graduates from USD’s School of Business Administration.
The students were recipients of the Student Internship Fund, which Carey established in 2010. The fund allows students to accept internships they can’t otherwise afford because the positions are unpaid or require travel or relocation.
The student luncheon preceded Carey’s larger presentation to the School of Business called, “Leading the Future with Beverages.”
The intimate roundtable discussion gave Carey the chance to hear about the students’ internships — where they worked, what they learned and how the experiences helped them expand networks, hone skills and choose career paths. It also gave students the unique opportunity to hear the story of Carey’s early years as a sales associate for Proctor & Gamble, his moves back and forth between Frito Lay and PepsiCo and how, after 31 years in the industry, he became the head of all things Pepsi.
Internships, Carey says, are invaluable. They not only give students valuable hands-on, real-life experience, but also offer the option to try different things.
“There are some people who know, from the time they’re 12 years old, what they want to do, but most people don’t. I sure didn’t.” Carey says. “My recommendation is to take something you might be interested in, something you have some passion about, and see where it takes you. And if you get a job and realize it’s not for you, it’ll lead you to something else, it always does.”
The students’ internship experiences crossed the spectrum. They worked in commercial real estate, supply chain management, marketing, advertising, sustainability, microfinance and investment banking.
Chris von Huene, who graduated in January, had a summer internship at Bank of America Merrill Lynch and says he realized, through the experience, that he wants to pursue a career in private equity.
“The internship solidified my passion for financing, helped me narrow my focus and gave me great contacts,” he says. “It was amazing how humble they were. I’ve talked to them many times and they’ve introduced me to other people. I couldn’t believe they would take time out of their busy schedule to talk to me — much like you are today.”
Claire Brown, who will graduate in May, did her internship with Accion San Diego, a member of Accion U.S. Network, a worldwide leader in microfinance and micro-enterprise development.
“I want to thank you because that internship was a really big part of my narrative at USD,” Brown says. “It’s something I’m going to stick with for the rest of my life.”
So, what’s Carey’s biggest piece of advice for soon-to-be-graduates to get a foot in the door?
“Don’t send your resume to someone in HR where it’ll go into some black hole in outer space,” Carey says. “Use your contacts. Get started on something that you’re passionate about, come back and show them your results. Tell them, ‘I’ll do an entry-level assignment to prove to you what I can do.’ If you said that to me, I’d be interested. If you’re willing to get your hands dirty, I just might consider getting you in the door.”
— Krystn Shrieve