IWCO Direct has hired 23 summer interns to work in various areas of our operations. We invited the three supporting the Marketing team, Mitch Millard, Chris Knoll and Joey Puk, to share some of their initial impressions as they learn what direct marketing is all about.
June 1, 2015 marked the start of our IWCO Direct internship experience. We walked up to the CH2 building and thought that we were well prepared and ready to contribute and learn. We had no idea what we were getting into. Our thoughts ranged from “What does CH2 stand for?” to remembering if we put on deodorant. Despite whatever apprehension we all had, we pulled back the door and stepped inside… to another door, which was locked. We say we, because there were at least three other new interns who made the same mistake. After several awkward seconds of panic and pulling on the door someone came to our aid. Our first lesson – security is taken very seriously at IWCO Direct. Gathering what small amount of dignity we had left, we found ourselves walking as a group to safety orientation. Lesson two – safety is very important here, too.
Following orientation, all of the interns had to report to our supervisors. Specifically, for us marketing interns that meant EVP of Sales & Marketing, Mike Ertel. Immediately, he asked us, “So what do you think we do here?” We all looked at each other and said timidly, “Uhhh print on paper.” With a smile, Mike said to follow him for a tour of the facility, mentioning that hopefully we’d learn something along the way, and we certainly did.
It turns out IWCO Direct does a whole lot more than print on paper. Our first lesson was the difference between flexography and lithography, terms that we would not have recognized as English before the tour. To the three of us, the printing presses might as well have been something from “Star Trek.” We had no idea how well, how fast, or how efficiently these machines were able to produce mailpieces. We were astonished to hear they worked at a rate of more than 10 million a day. We moved from the production floor to the warehouse where roll after roll was stacked up, forming a skyline of paper cylinders. On the tour Mike explained, “We don’t just sell direct mail, we sell the results that the direct marketing creates.” It quickly became obvious we had a lot to learn about the company.
This was all great in its own right, but it was reassuring to see that any worker we came across was kind and accepting of our lack of knowledge. It became apparent to us that everyone here is willing to help and that all we needed to do was ask. Everybody was patient with us (especially our supervisors), and glad to see we were taking interest in the industry. Collectively, we were all caught off guard by the amount of work that goes into a direct marketing campaign. We had no idea how many different people, in different departments, were essential to the development of one mailpiece. We were surprised at how the employees and management were so generous and inviting.
After finishing our first week, we are equal parts pleased and impressed with what we have seen. We look forward to contributing to the success of the company as a whole while learning as much as we can along the way during our IWCO Direct internships.
Joey is a sophomore at the University of St. Thomas, where he is pursuing a degree in marketing with a minor in Spanish and playing for the Tommie’s football team. He is looking forward to learning more about direct marketing and continuing to gain deeper experience in the marketing industry. He hopes to enter the medical device sales and marketing industry.
Chris is a senior at the University of North Dakota, where he is a member of the baseball team and working toward a communication degree with an emphasis in advertising. He hopes to eventually work in sales or advertising and looks forward to learning more about the world of direct marketing during his internship at IWCO Direct.
Mitch is a senior at the University of St. Thomas, working toward a degree in entrepreneurship. He hopes to complement what he’s learned at St. Thomas with new marketing skills he’s learned during his internship. In the future, he hopes to apply these new skills and experiences to start a business of his own.
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