University of Arkansas

Walton College

The Sam M. Walton College of Business

Intern Spotlight: McKenzie Meehan

McKenzie Meehan

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Episode Transcript

00:00 McKenzie Meehan: Part of the biggest way that I got to where I am is by saying yes to a lot of things that I probably wouldn't have if I had taken too much thought into it, but I just said yes and tried to see where it would get me, and it always ended up with the benefit of pushing me to the next best thing.


00:31 Brian Fugate: We're here with McKenzie Meehan who is a Walton Supply Chain student graduating in 2020. McKenzie is an intern at General Mills and we're here by General Mills' campus, and gonna ask McKenzie a little bit about her internship. So first, could you tell us what you're doing this summer?

00:50 McKenzie Meehan: Yeah, so I am an intern on our cereal team on our Walmart office. So basically this summer, I've been doing a lot of reporting, acting as if I were a first year employee with them, working a lot with new products that just launched, tracking their display or tracking their sales, seeing how that crosses over and maybe where we can make recommendations in the future for that, and then also just any tasks that they can throw my way. So it's been a lot of fun so far.

01:17 Brian Fugate: Okay, that sounds interesting. So have you had a chance to work with buyers at all, and how's that going?

01:21 McKenzie Meehan: Yes. So actually the first week, they threw me in a buyer meeting with our Walmart buyer, and it was an absolute blast. I had no idea what to expect and when I went in, they actually let me pitch part of our slides, so it was a very interesting process.

01:33 Brian Fugate: Wow. That's fantastic.

01:36 McKenzie Meehan: Yeah.

01:37 Brian Fugate: So can you tell me a little bit about what goals you may have for this summer?

01:41 McKenzie Meehan: So this summer, I really have the goal of just seeing what the culture is like at General Mills. A big part of who I am is people, and I wanna make sure that I fit correctly with the people that work at this office, as well as they fit correctly with me. The other thing I would say is just fine-tuning the hard and soft skills that I've learned in school, and making sure that I can apply those in the real world.

02:04 Brian Fugate: Okay, fantastic. So you've been working here for how long this summer?

02:08 McKenzie Meehan: About a month and a half now.

02:09 Brian Fugate: Okay. So what has kept you coming in, and what's fun about coming into work at General Mills?

02:14 McKenzie Meehan: It's the people, 100%. Across the entire company, we've got offices all over the place, and at headquarters, the first week I was there, they said that the people is the reason that some of these employees have been there for 30, 40 years. And then I got into my office and they said the exact same thing. And it's extremely evident after working with a bunch of different teams.

02:32 Brian Fugate: So earlier, I heard you tell me that they like to play pranks. Could you tell us about that?

02:37 McKenzie Meehan: They do. The first week that we were back in our office, we've got six interns with us, they decided to throw their own little PGA golf tournament while we were in the middle of a training session. So one of our VPs came in and decided that he was gonna go ahead and sink a put right in the middle of our learning session.


02:54 Brian Fugate: That's fantastic.

02:55 McKenzie Meehan: Yeah. [chuckle]

02:55 Brian Fugate: So, McKenzie when I look at your resume and all the accomplishments and awards that you've had, what inspires you to do all of that?

03:06 McKenzie Meehan: Very first thing is my parents, they have raised me to make sure that I give 100% effort all the time. I don't have to be perfect, but I have to do my best, and if it's not my best, it's not good enough. And my second thing is that they have two of the biggest work ethics and hearts for people. So all of that combined, I would definitely say my parents. And then coming into this job, my team, they make sure that I am allowed to have my own autonomy in the job, but at the same time if I don't know what I'm doing, they're gonna pick me up where I left off and teach me where to go from there.

03:40 Brian Fugate: Fantastic. So your parents have done well, obviously.

03:44 McKenzie Meehan: Yes, yeah.

03:44 Brian Fugate: Again, as I said so many different accomplishments.

03:46 McKenzie Meehan: Thank you.

03:47 Brian Fugate: One of the things that you're doing now is serving as the President of WISE. Could you tell us about WISE?

03:52 McKenzie Meehan: Yes. Yeah, so it's actually women impacting supply chain excellence which I'm sure you know. Stephanie Thomas started it back up when she came to the University of Arkansas, and I was actually on our exec as our new membership coordinator, my first year, and then I became president this past year. It basically just encourages men, women, faculty, anyone across the campus or in the Northwest Arkansas area to help support women in supply chain. So it's created many things that I never thought I would be involved with. And if you asked me a year ago from today where I would be, I would not have told you that WISE would have grown as much as it has, but we've got a lot in the works that I'm really, really excited for.

04:33 Brian Fugate: Okay. So you have... You won several awards in this space or scholarships? So one was with AWESOME.

04:39 McKenzie Meehan: Yes.

04:40 Brian Fugate: Then another was the extraordinary women's at the University of Arkansas. Extraordinary woman at the University of Arkansas, and a service award. So tell us about those two things.

04:48 McKenzie Meehan: Yes. Both of those, I do have to dedicate back to Stephanie Thomas. She has been a huge advocate for me and a mentor for me. The AWESOME one is actually a national women's WISE version. They do everything across the country, have many different companies that are involved and supporters, and I get to go to two of their conferences. So I'm very excited to see what that's gonna be like this next year. And then the extraordinary woman's one was actually more of a university-wide award. They had a few that they recognized as professors and then, two students, one which I was. And we got to meet all different facets of campus, and see how women can impact engineering, mathematics, theater, supply chain, really anywhere across campus in leadership or as a student. And we got to all come together in one area and discuss how we think it can go into the future.

05:44 Brian Fugate: What an important purpose and passion, and we can see that coming out especially in supply chain business as well. So thinking about supply chain, why did you choose supply chain?

05:56 McKenzie Meehan: It's actually funny, I didn't, when I first came in. I came in as a marketing major and I needed something as a minor, and they said supply chain was a good idea and I said, "Sign me up." And so I got into my intro class with Dr. Thomas and I did a 180, I said, "Sign me up. I wanna do that for the rest of my life, and marketing can be my minor." [chuckle]

06:00 Brian Fugate: Okay, okay, fantastic. And those are powerful combinations.

06:00 McKenzie Meehan: Yes.

06:00 Brian Fugate: And so I think those would play out well especially in an intern that you're in now. So thinking back about your courses that you had, what's your favorite course?

06:00 McKenzie Meehan: I would say that it has to be probably my intro into supply chain class, just because that's where I found what I really wanna do for the rest of my life. And I learned so many different skills that can transfer into so many different areas of business, but I would say looking forward, I'm really excited to try... The name actually just changed, and it's Supply Chain, New Product Management, New Product Development.

06:56 Brian Fugate: Yes.

06:56 McKenzie Meehan: And basically, it is a project-based course, which I love projects so I'm very, very excited for.

07:03 Brian Fugate: That's fantastic, so product development. Could you tell us a little bit about your previous intern at Sports Academy? I know you worked in new product development and sourcing, and all of that so.

07:12 McKenzie Meehan: Yes, so they actually placed me in product development for firearms and ammunition.

07:18 Brian Fugate: Okay.

07:19 McKenzie Meehan: I have never shot a gun in my life before last summer, or even held a gun. So it was definitely a learning curve, but the different aspects that that showed me even knowing that that's a major that you can go into. I had no idea. And a lot of those skills have even transferred over into this internship, being able to deal with new products at General Mills, and it's an exciting... You get to be on the front lines of everything. So it was really interesting learning all that stuff, and now taking it into the rest of my career.

07:48 Brian Fugate: That's fantastic. And so you'll be able to apply a lot of that in the course that you're gonna take that your looking forward to.

07:52 McKenzie Meehan: Yes, I'm excited.

07:53 Brian Fugate: So that's gonna be exciting. So McKenzie, when you're thinking through your experiences here this summer, how are you best applying supply chain management in your current role?

08:01 McKenzie Meehan: I would definitely say through the relationships that I've built with not only my team members, but across the entire company of General Mills, all the way into our buyer Walmart. Everything I've done is relationship-based, and it's really making sure that you've got the data, you've got the reports, you've got the facts behind you, but building that relationship is something that you just learn along the way. There's no book to teach you how to do it.

08:25 Brian Fugate: Yeah, that's so true. I've heard from one of the greatest scholars in supply chain say that, "Supply chain management is all about relationship management at the end of the day."

08:35 McKenzie Meehan: Yes.

08:35 Brian Fugate: 'Cause we're working across different functions, as well as companies and it really comes down to those collaborative relationships. What a great skill to learn early on. So thinking through your internship, and looking back a year ago to yourself or to maybe your classmates, what advice would you give them?

08:53 McKenzie Meehan: I would say, "Get as involved as you can right off the bat." Coming into college, it's hard to know what to get involved in because you've got a million things thrown at you at once, and you're just trying to figure it out as fast as you can. I got involved all across campus, which I would never take back, but really getting involved in my major, which is what I'm here for, to go to the university, I would definitely say, "Get involved with your major right off the bat." Whether that's shadowing a professor or coming in office hours, joining a club, anything along those lines, because when the rest of those fade as you start to graduate, anything that you do with your major is gonna stay strong.

09:33 Brian Fugate: What do you think about the value of an internship in itself? You've had several now so.

09:38 McKenzie Meehan: An absolutely unbelievable. And there's no reason why you shouldn't try and get as many as you can, even if you're in the middle of a semester and somebody offers you something. Part of the biggest way that I got to where I am is by saying yes to a lot of things that I probably wouldn't have if I had taken too much thought into it, but I just said yes and tried to see where it would get me. And it always ended up with the benefit of pushing me to the next best thing so.

10:04 Brian Fugate: Okay, fantastic. So thinking about those same students or yourself a year ago, how is your routine different as an intern versus being in school?

10:11 McKenzie Meehan: Oh my word. It's a world of a difference. I feel like I'm actually in the nine to five now. I've got one thing to focus on when I get to work and that's my job. And I'm not dealing with school and my house and my clubs, and anything else I'm involved in, whereas when I'm in the semester, I've got 15 things I'm juggling versus right now, I can work eight to five and then go home, and maybe have a little bit, but have my nights off at 5:00, which I'm not used to.

10:41 Brian Fugate: That's good to hear. So in other words, working is a piece of cake versus school.

10:44 McKenzie Meehan: Working is great.

10:45 Brian Fugate: Well, you can tell the students, "Hey, it gets better." Right?

10:48 McKenzie Meehan: Yes, it does.

10:48 Brian Fugate: So that's fantastic. So McKenzie, I heard that you really like to listen to podcasts. So what's your favorite podcast?

10:52 McKenzie Meehan: I do. It's actually Crime Junky. I found it because one of my friends who's a criminal justice major obsessed with them, so she recommended it, and now I am stuck on it, anytime I drive back and home from Kansas City to here.

11:07 Brian Fugate: So what's it about?

11:08 McKenzie Meehan: It's different crimes that have never been solved, and it's two women that actually started it. They have normal full-time jobs, but this is they're like hobby on the weekend, and then it exploded for them. And they are their own detectives in a sense, which is kind of strange, but I like to try and see if I can figure it out before they get the answer.

11:26 Brian Fugate: Just like a supply chain manager where you're trying to figure out and solve problems.

11:28 McKenzie Meehan: Problem solving.

11:29 Brian Fugate: That's exactly right. So McKenzie, this has been fantastic. Thank you for taking the time to visit with us.

11:34 McKenzie Meehan: Yeah.

11:34 Brian Fugate: And tell us a little bit about your intern.

11:36 McKenzie Meehan: Thank you so much.

11:37 Brian Fugate: And we'll look forward to seeing you back on campus.

11:39 McKenzie Meehan: Perfect.

11:39 Brian Fugate: Bye.