by Jasmine Garcia (B.A. ’11)
(This piece ran as part of a series on the importance of summer experiences as a component of students’ learning and career development.)
By the time Sarah Cantu started looking for her senior year summer internship, she had already done work two summers before in software branding and social media — not surprising for a Marketing major. But Cantu knew that for her third summer, she wanted something different.
This time, her summer was spent at Chicago’s Illinois Tool Works, one of the world’s leading diversified manufacturers. She worked directly with Paslode, a division specializing in fasteners and nails for residential construction. There, she fueled her interest in B2B marketing (that’s “business-to-business” for those not of the business world).
“I was interested in construction products because of how complex the residential housing marketing is,” said Cantu, a Greehey Scholar. “In a lot of ways, you can think of the housing market as a good indicator of how the economy is doing because if people aren’t doing well, they’re probably not buying houses. If people aren’t buying houses, they’re not buying nails.”
Cantu conducted interviews with homebuilders, attended product presentations and facility tours, and assisted with customizing a cost-benefit and opportunity cost analysis for the company.
“The key takeaways for me have been to take initiative and to continuously search for ways to add value to the organization,” she said.
Cantu did, in fact, take initiative. She proposed that the company consider incorporating infographics and a design thinking session to better understand the organization’s stakeholders — and then got them implemented.
“I made the suggestions and assumed they would be considered but probably implemented by someone else at a later time, if at all,” said Cantu. “I didn’t really expect to find activities or projects that I could take ownership of, so I’m really glad that I have been able to accomplish that.”