When Devlin Hamidjaja was offered an internship at Kellogg’s, he saw it as the opportunity of a lifetime. Pandemic or not, the senior in marketing at Cal State Fullerton was determined to make the most of the experience.
Hamidjaja’s path to Kellogg’s began at the Sales Leadership Center in the College of Business and Economics, where students can participate in workshops, seminars and events to network with sales executives and recruiters. There he connected with a Kellogg’s representative and landed the job.
Kellogg’s initially planned to have interns work at Kellogg’s headquarters in Battlecreek, Michigan, the company quickly pivoted to a remote model amid the global health crisis. Later in the summer, however, interns were required to shadow sales representatives in the field, leaving Hamidjaja at an uncertain crossroads because CSUF was only allowing virtual internships.
Saving the Internship
The campus’ Center for Internships and Community Engagement, the team in Risk Management and Career Services at the College of Business and Economics jumped into action to help.
“A lot of work goes into approving any internship job site,” explained Kate Guerrero, career services director at the College of Business and Economics. “The partnership between CICE, Risk Management, students and employers is key to the success of the university internship program.
“CICE and Risk Management work very closely with employers to make sure that all internships are safe for our students. In this unusual case, it was a concerted and collaborative effort between all parties to take the approval process step by step up the chain of command, working with Kellogg on safe practices, and ultimately ensuring that Devlin was able to complete and get credit for his internship.”
Hamidjaja was allowed to participate in shadowing, taking the proper COVID-19 precautions. “But shadowing was simply not enough for Devlin,” recalled Ted Nelson, senior manager of retail strategy at Kellogg’s. “He planned sales calls, presented to store decision makers and actually sold 25 displays, worth $50,000 in incremental sales. Success for him wasn’t just learning — it was driving real results.”
Practicing Marketing Skills on the Job
To flex their marketing skills, Kellogg’s interns are able to take part in an innovation challenge and are assigned a capstone project. On the former, Hamidjaja led a team in designing and developing a new product concept, Cheez-It Popified, which took second place and was voted “Fan Favorite.”
For his capstone project, Hamidjaja observed changes in shopper habits as a result of COVID-19, researched market trends and provided recommendations on how Kellogg’s could turn those into new opportunities.
“His recommendations were so compelling that Devlin actually presented his capstone project one-on-one to our senior vice president of sales,” said Nelson. “As far as I’m aware, it was the first time an intern has presented person-to-person to a VP.”
While Kellogg’s was pleased with Hamidjaja and his work, describing him as “inquisitive, a leader with great vision, results-oriented and truly a delightful person,” the Titan was equally impressed with the company.
“Kellogg’s feels like a family where everyone is invested in your success,” he shared. “They are very dedicated to developing new talent and are willing to adapt to situations like COVID-19.
“I learned so much about the consumer packaged goods industry, market and data trends and analysis and sales, along with fun facts about the iconic company. For example, did you know that Corn Flakes was created when John Kellogg and his brother Will accidentally left cooked wheat out in the sun?
Hamidjaja continued, “This internship showed me that CSUF’s reputation as one of the top business schools in the U.S. is true — I was well-prepared for the experience, and all my hard work paid off.”
After obtaining his bachelor’s degree in May 2021, Hamidjaja hopes to take what he learned at Kellogg’s, pursue a master’s degree and lead a team of his own one day.
To support student internships and expand career advising programs in the College of Business and Economics, visit the CSUF giving page.