My STEP project entailed a summer-long internship at the Center of Science and Industry. Working as the primary assistant to the Marketing Manager, I was challenged by working in a fast-paced business environment, learning about pushing marketing in the attractions industry, and collaborating across departments on projects for the science center. Responsibilities include updating and maintaining listservs, managing E-blast Marketing, assistance in facilitating the opening and promotion of new exhibits, and carrying out other miscellaneous small-scale promotions throughout the center.
This experience has afforded myself the opportunity to explore a true, fast-paced work environment unlike any of my prior work experience. Assisting the Marketing Project Manager meant one thing, above all else: deadlines would exist (many of them), thus an exchange of mutual trust and respect was necessary for this experience to flourish for the both of us. As previously stated, the tasks assigned to me ranged from data entry for “register-to-win” promotions, to event request meetings to schedule appearances of COSI’s mascot, RATiO, to planning and executing the media and member previews of new exhibits and shows. While all this may not have come as a surprise to myself, I came to many realizations about the true purpose of marketing in my several months working for the science center.
Perhaps the most important lesson I learned through interning for such a large attraction is how marketing is truly about earning and maintaining relationships. The mutual trust and respect extends beyond the relationship you have with your supervisor—a commitment to marketing means a commitment to partnership and collaboration. From local radio stations to some of the largest attractions in the Midwest such as Cedar Point, the relationships you maintain with the individuals across those partnerships is integral to successful collaborations. Another observation I came to find was that your average, 9-to-5 desk job is not going to be enough to get me out of bed in the morning—fortunately, my “desk” this summer was a scientific jungle of innovation. On some mornings, my “desk” was the National Geographic Giant Screen Theater, organizing a media preview for the new feature film “National Parks Adventure 3D.” The next morning, my “desk” would be a VEX (Visitors & Experience) department meeting, leading a discussion on the brand identity for the new COSI Center for School & Community Partnerships. At COSI, there is a feeling of excitement in the uncertainty of where exactly the work day will take you, and that is what I expect for any future career I take on.
One particular interaction that struck my memory as a highlight of this summer internship experience is a lunch meeting with my supervisor and a marketing consultant for iHeartRadio. We met for lunch at the Rusty Bucket in Upper Arlington. My supervisor and the consultant caught up with each other’s lives, we discussed current events in the news, and then we got down to business. My supervisor, Chelsea, and I briefed the consultant on COSI’s many new up-and-coming offerings, such as Game Masters: The Exhibition, a limited-edition traveling exhibit to spend the summer at the science center, as well as new planetarium shows and other fun opportunities under way. The iHeartRadio consultant began to flesh out ways the radio station could support the science center, and the collaboration flourished from there; COSI would provide marketing materials and prizes for the station and iHeartRadio would provide on-air broadcast time to promote the science center.
What struck me in this particular instance, as stated previously, is I was taken aback by how organic the entire meeting felt. On this hot summer day, I quickly took notice of the more “human” aspect of marketing. This particular aspect finds itself at the very core of marketing. In fostering genuine, organic connections, we are enacting the values and mission of COSI itself—bringing people together for the betterment of the community. Ideally, that is something we all strive for. As a prominent attraction and not-for-profit business, COSI commits itself to this mission and expects no less for its staff, regardless of the department they work for. Moreover, it is this project that brought me to Jeni’s Ice Cream upon the completion of the STEP signature project; another Columbus business that believes in the power of bringing people together. I’ve come to find that this sort of consciousness is essential in thinking like a successful marketer.
If nothing else, COSI introduced me to countless passions that I hope to unpack in my future endeavors. Working in such a unique attraction in an equally unique city was a breath of fresh air in my undergraduate career. My second-year ranking has only allowed myself so much experience in the “business core” courses at the Fisher College of Business, so to be truly introduced to an environment in which marketing is occurring in real time, behind-the-scenes made me ecstatic for the future and the abundance of information I’ve yet to learn from both inside and outside the classroom. Even the smaller tasks such as data entry, social media assistance, and mascot logistics made me feel like a true part of a unit by contributing to the curation of the best visitor experiences possible. After all, perhaps the most powerful thing I learned through marketing at COSI is that these experiences truly begin outside of the science center.