This past March everyone was sent home from Chapman and the world was ordered to shelter-in-place, leaving schools silent, workplaces empty, and businesses struggling. With companies shutting down and businesses refocusing their efforts, my goal of finding an internship for the summer of my sophomore year seemed near impossible. Still, I took to the internet and applied everywhere I could. As several companies announced they were canceling their internship programs, my heart grew heavy and I began to let go of my goal.
When I had nearly lost all hope, an email from Greek House dropped into my inbox with the subject “Hiring Sales & Marketing Interns – Remote” and a notice saying that the application date had been extended. This was a sign. Even though I craved a collaborative in-person environment, I knew I had to jump at this remote opportunity and make the most of a summer that would be unlike any other. I sent in my application that day, got an interview within three days, and joined the team a week later!
My name is Kiley Panasuk and I am a junior pursuing a B.A. in Strategic and Corporate Communication and a B.A. in Dance. This summer I had the opportunity to work remotely as a sales and marketing intern for Greek House, a custom shirt/merchandise company. I had reservations going into this remote internship as I thrive off of the energy of others and know that I produce my best work when I am on a collaborative team. I am also not one who enjoys sitting at a screen and I struggle when I have the freedom to work at any time and on my own schedule. However, I knew that as an intern I would learn so much about sales, the process of working remotely, and ways to self-motivate to reach the goals I set.
The internship was 10 weeks long and went from 9am to 1pm five days a week. The typical week included webinars discussing sales basics, office hours, one-on-one calls with a team leader, and guest speakers. When there wasn’t something scheduled, we were instructed to work on our own which included tasks like reaching out to leads and conducting market research. One of the first and most important things I learned was how to find the decision-makers of student organizations and local businesses using Persist IQ and LinkedIn. As an intern, my main job was to reach out to these decision-makers with the end goal of booking a meeting and getting them to place a design request to order apparel. I was able to edit and craft perfect templates for reach outs. I learned about the importance of including a personalized hook, a statement about what’s ‘in it for them,’ and a question that elicits the need for a response. I included statements like ‘we’re helping businesses raise awareness by creating awesome merch for the community’ and questions like ‘who is the best person to connect with for apparel/merch?’ I split up my reach outs into several groups (greek life, student orgs, businesses, etc) and based the body of the emails on the needs of the different target audiences.
Throughout the internship, I sent almost one hundred carefully crafted emails and got turned down left and right. A hard truth I had to face as an intern in sales is that rejection is common. People tend to either kindly decline or ignore the outreaches all together. Therefore, when I finally made a breakthrough around my eighth week, I was thrilled to form a professional and productive partnership with Green Tomato Grill. They wanted to work with Greek House because I was able to market myself as a loyal customer attending Chapman and I expressed enthusiasm for helping. During this partnership, I scheduled and led several Zoom calls with Brinn, Green Tomato Grills director of sales and marketing. Meetings would have usually occurred in-person, but with the pandemic, I had to modify my presentations and fine-tune my communication to work with the Zoom platform. In these calls we went over design ideas, budget, and pricing, creating the best design for a reasonable price.
When I wasn’t responding to and sending emails, I was working on making shirt designs and selling them to the community. Unfortunately, the first design I created left me feeling discouraged. I did not sell enough to reach the minimum and had to to close the campaign. However, I did not let this bring me down for too long and took this set back as an opportunity to learn. I realized the original shirt I made was priced too high, had been done too many times before, and was a design specific to a small target audience. I took the information I had gathered and hit the ground running with a fresh ‘Old Towne Orange’ design. This design could be marketed to the entire town of Orange, was $10 cheaper, and was one-of-a-kind! I promoted the design in Facebook groups, on my Snapchat and Instagram stories, on the Nextdoor neighbor app, and even through text messages with families and friends. I found that the most successful places to market designs were on the Nextdoor app, to the Orange locals, and on Snapchat, where my friends could swipe up and directly make their purchase. Towards the end of July, I closed the campaign and ended up bringing in $600 of revenue for Greek House.
Despite being sent home from school and moving online, being a sales and marketing intern for Greek House was just the internship I needed to get hands-on sales and marketing experience. I did not get to work in-person with a team as I had hoped, but that does not mean I did not learn just as much. I was privileged to be given complete trust in onboarding customers and promoting my designs. I also grew incredibly confident in my role and in selling Greek House to people. I was pushed out of my comfort zone and learned to love the freedom I was given. The sky was the limit in the reach outs and designs, and I was so grateful to have guidance from the most educated and personable team of managers. The webinars they led taught me how to reach out to, and successfully onboard loyal customers. I am proud to say that I have helped grow the presence of Greek House in Orange and on Chapman’s campus and I cannot wait to bring what I have learned through this experience to the next opportunity that comes my way!