Academics, Student Profile or Feature

Summer Stories from the Marketing Club: E&J Gallo Winery

By Darden Admissions-

The Marketing Club is one of over 50 student-run clubs and organizations here at Darden. The club is dedicated to helping its members:

  • Understand the varied and exciting professional opportunities in marketing;
  • Develop the necessary skills and experience to be successful in their career search;
  • Build lasting personal relationships with peers, faculty and alumni; and
  • Build strong professional relationships with companies and organizations.

This summer a few of its members are sharing their summer internship experiences with us. Our next story comes from Messai Belayneh, who interned at E&J Gallo Winery.

Messai Belayneh ’18: E&J Gallo Winery

Is it really over?!

They told me the E&J Gallo MBA internship experience would be “fun” but I had no idea fun would translate to arguably the best summer of my life. From building my own brand to treating my mother to a memorable vacation in Wine Country, Gallo helped me empty my bucket list over such a short, but sweet summer. I know it sounds surreal – but it felt as though good weather, even better people and the best wine were on my agenda every day. Brand management at Gallo is everything it’s hyped up to be!

One of the many things I learned was how to better prioritize and balance everything on my plate, and no, I’m not talking about the tasty seasonal fish and filet mignon risotto dish at the intimate Gallo-owned restaurant downtown. I’m talking about the work-life balance and figuring out what’s of greatest importance at the time. Gallo did an incredible job at making sure we coupled our hard work with leisure time to experience beautiful California and develop meaningful relationships. Weekly happy hours, wine contests, dinners with directors and their families, trips to Wine Country and baseball games were just a few of the events on my calendar when I arrived in mid-June. The Gallo family made it clear that with over 5,000 employees and 100 brands, they plan on continuing to grow and flourish as company, but they’ll NEVER lose sight of their culture and tight-knit family values. It was 2 o’clock on a Friday afternoon (the week prior to due dates for our final deliverables) when a VP asked my co-intern “are you homeless?” and then proceeded to tell us to go home. Let’s not get it misunderstood – not only was there more than enough work to keep us busy, but they also expected top notch results and it was up to us to drive our projects.

In the first week we were introduced to two projects that we’d be responsible for throughout the course of the summer. One day we were in data training for eight hours straight and the next day we were applying everything we were taught to our projects. Even though our projects were high stakes for the company and others in the industry, we had full autonomy. Cross-functional teams and managers were extremely helpful, but it was our responsibility to find direction and no one was going to stop us from bumping into walls. When you’re in the weeds you don’t know how much you’re learning – but looking back in retrospect, I now feel much more prepared to take a swing at the dreaded cold-call!

My summer at Gallo made me a better marketer and a better person. The past nine weeks were nothing short of amazing and I’m appreciative for the opportunity to share it with the Darden community.