When the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting economic downturn caused internship cancellations, WashU Olin and the Center for Experiential Learning stepped up to provide summer learning opportunities for students while supporting businesses, nonprofits and startups. We’ll be sharing their stories on the Olin Blog. Today, we’ll hear from Jay Li, BSBA ’16, director of marketing at Regatta Craft Mixers.
Given the pandemic, what compelled your company to get involved with this program?
Honestly, we had to scrap existing plans to bring on summer interns due to the pandemic. When I received the email from Dean Taylor about the program, we rushed to pitch a strategic project we’ve been struggling with.
What is your project about?
Our students worked on using insights from consumer research to inform a selling strategy for the grocery channel.
What was it like working with WashU Olin students?
The additional bandwidth and their fresh perspective was great. It was a pleasure working with our team, and they definitely challenged some assumptions we’ve held for a while. We were really impressed with the depth of thought and analysis we’ve seen from them.
When you’re so focused on fighting daily fires, other things—like figuring out exactly who our consumers are—have to wait. The students have really helped us work on some badly-needed projects. Plus, the students’ fresh perspective has been great—they helped us find ways we were looking at the wrong hypotheses.
What advice would you give students on the cusp of graduating at this time in history?
I would encourage them to try and find silver linings. Although COVID-19 has disrupted our lives, there’s a lot of opportunity for innovation and disruption as our behaviors change.