This interview is part of a series of interviews of Product Ventures’ talented staff. Below are excerpts from an interview with Account Management Intern Danielle Mank. The excerpts have been edited for clarity.
Do you remember how you found out about Product Ventures or how you became an intern in the first place?
Danielle Mank: Yeah! Originally I was looking for different internships opportunities within the CPG industry around this time last year. I was really interested in the industry and I wanted to dive right in. The opportunity at Product Ventures presented itself to me and I applied. I began as a marketing and business development intern. Through that I got to help with the business development team, the sales funnel, and also the different marketing components — mainly with the social media for Instagram, LinkedIn, and the website
Arthur Augustyn (PV): Before you started at Product Ventures you were in a position — that a lot of people find themselves in during school — where you were still considering what you wanted to do. Can you share how you decided to focus on the consumer packaged goods (CPG) industry?
Danielle Mank: Oh yeah! I became interested in the CPG industry because I had a press relations class where a guest speaker came in to talk about their career as a brand manager in the consumer packaged goods industry. They asked by a show of hands who was interested in this area and I was the only person who raised my hand in the class [laughs].
Maybe a month or two after that class I heard about Product Ventures which was the perfect segue into the industry. PV gave me an opportunity to learn about everything going on in the CPG industry — especially being in marketing and business development. In my role, I had to know everything about these companies because they were potential clients or current clients. That was really cool.
Do you remember the experience of discovering Product Ventures for the first time? What was your impression?
Danielle Mank: Yeah, when I found out about Product Ventures I wanted to look more into it because I wasn’t familiar. As I looked into it more — and I think this is in line with everyone else’s reactions — you see the different projects PV has worked on then you realize “Ok, this is the real deal.” That solidified my confidence and moving forward with the opportunity.
What were your main responsibilities as an intern?
PV: We have a lot of interns and I’ve found interns often don’t know what to expect. They’re not sure if they’re going to be getting coffee for people all the time or doing monotonous tasks. Can you share what your responsibilities were and how it related to what you wanted to do?
Danielle Mank: I started marketing and business development. There were two areas to that job. The main focus was finding leads to inform our sales funnel. I had to do a lot of research to understand the different companies in the industry. I mapped everything out which I found very entertaining and fun to do — maybe in a nerdy way [laughs]. I did a lot of research to find who would be the best match for our purposes. Seeing how potential targets market themselves on LinkedIn was entertaining and it taught me a lot about the industry.
The other focus was the website. I worked on search engine optimization (SEO), Google Analytics, and some social media through LinkedIn. We did a bit of rebrand through creating a cadence of content for those channels. That was a lot of fun.
Overall, the work I did provided a deeper appreciation for the nitty gritty work — especially is business development. I was able to see how the work I did for one department evolved into capabilities presentations or other deliverables. It’s hard to see it in the moment when I was beginning the internship — especially because there was so much volume to the tasks — but it’s a unique experience to work through the entire business and see where things end up later on in the process. It’s super rewarding. You know there’s a purpose for everything you’re doing.
PV: Was getting that big picture perspective unique in your experience? Agencies like ours tend to have fewer staff so you see more of the overall business.
Danielle Mank: Yeah, I would definitely say at agencies in general you see a lot more. I got to wear different hats. I think that’s great because you get more exposure. You get more experience to different components of the company. That informs your responsibilities because you know how it affects other people and other teams.
Can you explain how you transitioned from one department to another? How did that opportunity come about?
Danielle Mank: When the summer was coming to a close, I was debating if I wanted to continue with an internship while I was in school. I had to figure out if I could handle the time commitment. I sat down with Peter and talked about my interests, my career, and what I was looking for.
Through those conversations, he proposed an account management role. I explained how I was looking to get more exposure to the client side of the business. He created a position for me where I was able to explore that more. Peter and Laura took me under their wing and taught me a lot. I really appreciated that. I had multiple mentors while I was working here.
What was a standout day while working at Product Ventures?
Danielle Mank: Going to Luxe Pack New York at the Javits Center was a standout day. I’ve never been to any convention like that before at all. I don’t travel to the city too often — that’s another component we’ve discussed before [laughs]. It was really interesting.
I remember being intimidated at first because you have all these people who clearly know what they’re talking about because it’s their job. Events and expos are everything they do. I remember learning to work up the courage to talk to people — whether they were sitting next to me at a panel and pulling sculptures out of their backpack because that’s the packaging they’re looking for, or if I was talking to someone at one of the booths.
I think it was definitely a good opportunity and I’d encourage others to do it if they get the chance. It forces you to go outside your comfort zone. It’s not the most comfortable thing to be an intern and to try to strike up a conversation with strangers, but it pushed me out of my comfort zone in a very good way.
What’s one thing that you liked about the people that you were working with?
Danielle Mank: I could say ‘everyone’s nice.’ Which is the truth, but it’s more than that.
I think everyone is very genuine. No one has ulterior motives. Everyone has really been so willing to help me if I had a question. If I needed advice on something at work — or even if it wasn’t related to work — everyone was so welcoming from my first day. It definitely made me feel valued. Even as an intern, I felt what I was doing was important and helped the company. Even if it was a nitty gritty task that someone might not find the most amusing work, I still felt like it had some importance.
No one at Product Ventures ever made me feel bad for being an intern. Everyone wanted to see me learn and grow. That supportive environment — especially for an internship — is not very common. I think that’s very unique to Product Ventures. The people are just amazing. That’s what made moving onto another opportunity so difficult. I was getting teary eyed.
If you had to redo the experience, is there anything you would change? Or take advantage of sooner?
Danielle Mank: We mentioned at an agency you have to work with a lot of people and I wish I asked more questions of people in other departments. There are a lot of things I don’t know and a lot of cool things that go on here. I wish I was a little more confident asking questions to people and not worrying about overstepping or wasting their time. I think that was the source of my hesitancy and it was all self-imposed. I wish earlier on I wasn’t as nervous. I wish I took advantage of that more.
But honestly — I look back at everything and I’m very happy with it. There’s nothing I’d want to change. It’s been a great experience.
Any advice you’d give to future interns at Product Ventures?
Danielle Mank: If you do end up interning here my advice would be don’t be afraid to talk to people. There are so many talented and amazing people all around you. Don’t be afraid to talk to them. Learn about things they’re doing or what they’ve done. They probably have good advice for you. There’s a lot to explore here and it’s all under one roof. I definitely recommend that.
PV: Danielle, thank you for taking the time and being here for almost a year.
Danielle Mank: Oh yeah. I’m going to miss it.
PV: Good luck!
Danielle Mank: Thank you!