Isabel McKeown

Major(s): Global Business Leadership

XPD Program: 3M

Involvement Site (Organization Name, Location): 3M Headquarters

How did you find out about the program? Describe the application process (if applicable).

I found out about 3M’s Global Strategic Sourcing team and analyst intern position when looking for internships at the CSB/SJU Career Expo my sophomore year. 3M’s Sourcing Department interviews and hires its interns in the fall of students’ junior years before the CSB/SJU Career Expo, so it was important for me to make this connection my sophomore year. I followed up with the contacts I made and took up their offer to have me visit their office in February of my sophomore year. By the time the interviews came up in early October of my junior year, I had networked enough to get an interview. I completed three interviews—two rounds with current analysts and one round with my future supervisor. The questions were typical interview questions- a mix of personal and situational questions. Having an internship between my sophomore and junior year gave me real business experience to talk about during the interview, which I think helped me compete with other students who attended schools that offer sourcing or supply chain management majors. I knew from the beginning of this application process that 3M Sourcing hires interns with the hopes of offering them a full-time position. Therefore, after successfully completing my summer internship at 3M, I was given a full time offer. I immediately accepted due to the great experience I had during my summer internship.   

What were your responsibilities? Please describe a typical day.

Typical responsibilities varied daily, but mainly related to working on my internship projects. My main projects were finding new vendors for components of our flap disc (an abrasive grinding wheel), analyzing and comparing vendors for an employee recognition program, and finding suppliers to help convert a health care product being expanding into new products. Typical work activities included researching new suppliers, contacting potential and existing suppliers, performing pricing and quality comparisons between suppliers, pulling spend reports for any members of the sourcing department, and attending meetings on my various projects.

What was the most beneficial aspect of your experience? Please provide some specific highlights or examples.

The most beneficial aspect of my experience was gaining exposure to a real work environment. This meant having more responsibilities and people depending on me to get my work done on a timely manner, needing to represent myself in a professional manner for 8 hours each day, and learning from experienced professionals rather than fellow students or professors. This taught me how to take the interpersonal and business analysis skills I learned in the classroom and apply them to real world situations.

What were some of the challenges you faced during your experience?

One of my biggest challenges was being confident in my work since 3M is my dream employer. My internship at 3M was my dream internship and the full-time offer I received was my dream offer, so I really pushed myself to be best the I could be and always strived to perform better. 3M is an incredible company with thousands of employees at my location in St. Paul and around the world, and I really hoped to fit in and show I deserved both offers. However, it only took a few days for me to forget about my nerves and just really enjoy the fantastic experience. 

What did you learn? Was there something surprising you experienced?

This summer I learned both specific sourcing skills and broader business skills. As an example for specific skills, I used a lot of Microsoft Excel this summer and was able to apply tools I’d learned in class. My skill level with Excel was sufficient at the start of the internship, but my various projects refined and added to them. In addition, I also learned broader business skills such as how to present myself to customers, suppliers, and coworkers. Given 3M’s size, I was able to work with people from numerous companies, departments, and countries. My experience taught me how to change my interactions based on the scenario. For example, when emailing vendors in China, I learned to use very simple language and include as many details as possible in order to avoid miscommunications. It surprised me how often I had to call or email overseas coworkers and suppliers. I knew that 3M has large international presence, but was surprised how each and every project I worked on had at least some sort of international connection.

What advice would you offer to future students who want to be involved in the program?

My advice when starting a professional internship is to be really be confident in yourself and your work. There is a reason you were hired for the position you accept, so let that idea give you confidence when you walk in the door for the first day of the internship. Experienced coworkers and big companies may seem intimidating, but their success should cause inspiration rather than intimidation. It is still important to remain humble, check your work, and discuss your progress with your supervisor, but people will only have confidence in you if you have confidence in yourself.

Is there any additional information you would like to include about the program?

Together, both programs offered me great experience in professional settings. They not only taught me program specific skills and information, but also taught me about how to confidently present myself to professionals, how to handle challenges or nerves, and how to best prepare myself for future professional success. When I first met the 3M recruiter the fall of my sophomore year, I was a bundle of nerves and wasn’t sure what to say. Since then, I’ve felt myself completely transform into a confident business professional thanks to these two programs and the professional experiences they provided me. I can confidently say that these programs and their opportunities to apply skills learned in the classroom to outside situations played a large role in my full-time offer from 3M.