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All In From the First Run: A Pole Vaulter Takes on a New Professional Challenge

Why Nestlé USA is the perfect place to start making a real impact from day one.

Here’s something I learned early in pole vaulting, you’ve got to be all in from your very first run. I have to try with all my might to propel myself with my pole — I must always give 100% in order to even get off the ground. Though I physically can’t carry my pole and spikes into work with me, I have carried the lessons I’ve learned from the sport into my professional experiences with Nestlé USA.

I first interned with Nestlé in the summer of 2019 as a Sales Intern, and in 2020 I have returned for another internship as a Commercial Development Intern in Nestlé’s Baking Division. During both experiences, I’ve been encouraged to go all in right from the outset, and my experience in pole vaulting has really helped me embrace that spirit.

Fresh Perspective

Coming into a new working environment, it’s fascinating to see the kinds of skills and experiences that are valued. As an athlete, I joke that I bring a perspective from 12 and a half feet up in the air, and as a full-time student I’m bringing a fresh academic perspective to my day as I experience the practical world of work.

In 2020, work is a little different — right now I have a 5-minute commute from my bed to my computer. My days are all about logging on to work from home and shadowing meetings, learning as much as possible about the business, and collaborating with cross-functional teams.

Working with new people in this new environment has taught me lessons I wasn’t expecting. Just as my perspective is valued, I value seeing the professional world from inside the walls of Nestlé. I’ve found that it is a place of real flexibility, with everything going on in 2020, it’s been inspiring to see how everyone has adapted and found ways to succeed — I want to be like the people I’ve met here!

Going All In

Last summer I was invited to fly to the Nestlé USA headquarters in Arlington Virginia and present new products to senior leadership. I was going to be presenting everything I’d worked on — pricing, promotion, packaging — to a room full of about 30 people at Nestlé. I was nervous, of course, but I was also prepared for the moment and excited to be in this new space.

Heading into that room to present, I knew that to get off the ground I needed to grab the pole and run forward with conviction. I’m glad I did — my training kicked in and I was able to rely on all the lessons I’d learned from competition to succeed in this new space too.

Having an impact at work is something I think a lot of us are looking for — we want to show up to work every day and feel like our time is valued and valuable. If you’re willing to do the work and take courageous steps forward to make a difference, I’ve found Nestlé is a place where you’re rewarded for that courage.

Colleagues Who Care

One thing that became clear from that presentation experience was that I had the support of people all across the company. I’d gone in believing that my presentation was like a job interview in front of 30 people (terrifying!), but it wasn’t like that all. Everyone wanted me and my project to succeed, and cared about my ideas.

That’s something I’ve found to be consistent at Nestlé. Whether in person last year, or in our new normal through a screen in 2020, every colleague I’ve met has been supportive. I’ve often heard that finding a job you love is all about finding colleagues who understand you — this is a great place to work for that reason. My colleagues care about the work I’m doing, care about my success, and care about me as an individual.

That kind of collaborative environment is a perfect place to learn and develop new skills, and build a great career in the future.

My internship with Nestlé has had a great impact in my life — just as my pole-vaulting skills carried over into work, the skills I’ve learned at work are making me a better student and a better athlete. It has helped me grow as a person in every aspect of life.

I was driven to work with Nestlé because I wanted to work with the best people in the business and drive myself to be the best person I can be. As my career continues to grow, these are lessons I’ll carry with me forever.

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Jessica Keys

Jessica Keys

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Student, Pole Vaulter, Commercial Development Intern in Nestlé’s Baking Division