Coca-Cola UNITED Bottling Company recently offered the opportunity to two students of Valdosta State University in Georgia to experience the company’s operations and marketing through a week-long, full immersive internship.
McCulley Cregger and Ben Heller, from VSU’s Harley Langdale Jr. College of Business Administration, applied and were accepted for the opportunity. They toured Coca-Cola facilities throughout the southeast, partook in marketing meetings, and participated in several inspections of locations where Coca-Cola products are sold.
According to Cregger and Heller, they learned so much from relatively short internship period. For one, they were able to directly see how such a large company operates successfully day-to-day in its many facets, from product placement to relationships between the company and its buyers.
“This whole experience was eye-opening,” said Cregger. The college senior and Valdosta native graduated in May with a bachelor of business administration in marketing and a minor in advertising and promotions. “My favorite part was going into large stores and seeing the creative displays and how intentional Coca-Cola is about where they put their products. I love subliminal marketing, and they have it pretty much broken down to a science. It was great going out into the field and seeing all of it. This was an amazing experience.”
“Being able to go behind the scenes to see the logistics of a large-scale, 24/7 company was incredible,” said Heller. This Savannah, Georgia native and management major with a minor in supply chain and entrepreneurship will graduate in the fall. “I learned how they establish and maintain strong relationships with buyers and communities and cultivate a healthy work environment throughout their facilities. It brought concepts I’ve learned in the classroom to life. I am so grateful to have had this opportunity.”
During the internship, the two VSU students created a proposal for Coca-Cola UNITED in which introduce the idea of a Coca-Cola Innovation Station—a vending machine with the latest Coca-Cola products. This machine would live on VSU’s campus so that students would have access to the new products, allowing them to more easily become loyal Coke aficionados. For the proposal, Cregger and Heller conducted research to determine the highest-traffic areas of campus where the machines would get the most visibility and would be the most accessible.
To close out the internship, Cregger and Heller gave the presentation in front of Coca-Cola employees and VSU professors to detail their proposal and explicate their experience with the internship.
“It allows them to apply the principles they have learned in the classroom to a real-world employment setting,” said, Carla Gervin, career strategies coordinator for the Langdale College of Business Administration with VSU. “This was an amazing experiential learning opportunity for the students, and it’s helping prepare them for their post-college careers. The Langdale College of Business Administration is thrilled to have Coca-Cola’s help in ensuring students receive the skills and knowledge necessary to begin remarkable careers.”
Partnerships like these between Coca-Cola and the universities in its proximity help enrich the community and make our work even better. We are so proud of what these students accomplished during their time!