Last summer, Taylor O’Brien (McCombs, ‘17) got his chance to show off his marketing and FIFA skills while interning as a Product Marketing Manager Intern at Electronic Arts (EA) In our interview, Taylor shared with us his experience as a PMM intern, and how setting goals prior to his internship helped him maximize his summer.
MBASchooled: Where did you intern and what did you work on during your MBA internship?
Taylor: I interned at Electronic Arts (EA) as a product marketing manager for EA Access, which is a subscription service for Xbox One. With their subscription, you get access to a lot of EA’s back catalog (last year’s FIFA, Madden, Battlefield 4, etc.), early release trials of new games, and a discount on digital purchases.
One of the great things about my internship (aside from having an Xbox One at my desk!) was that I worked on a lot of different things over the course of the summer. Much of the work I did was around improving the customer experience with the service and the Xbox One app. I did a competitive analysis of popular Xbox One apps, identified ways to improve in-app marketing, developed a business case for a premium tier for the service, and helped with partnership opportunities, to name a few.
MBASchooled: Was there anything you did leading up to your internship to prepare for it?
Taylor: I read several articles about subscription services like Spotify and Netflix to better understand the space, along with general reading about EA, EA Access, and the video game industry. I talked to many SF locals about housing, knowing that it is a major challenge to find anything reasonable in the Bay Area. I also brushed up on my FIFA skills…
MBASchooled: What was the biggest surprise that came up during your internship?
Taylor: I was honestly blown away at the culture shift inside of EA since Andrew Wilson became CEO in late 2013. Many people still associate EA with their negative image of the early 2010s, but it was clear working there that everyone genuinely cares about the player. They want to better understand players, make better games for them, and help them find new franchises to play and to love.
MBASchooled: What was a challenge that you faced, and what did you do to overcome it?
Taylor: Building the business case for a premium tier service relied (in theory) on a lot of disparate data from finance, customer insights, and my own team. As it does in large organizations, it took a while to get some of the data and when I did, the data were not at the level of granularity that I needed. Ironically, in my past life as a consultant, I often saw this exact same problem time and time again when I talked to stakeholders in the business. To overcome this challenge, I gathered as much anecdotal insight as I could, made some assumptions, and managed expectations with the product manager I was working with that the model was directionally accurate, but more meant to inspire conversation, not provide a definitive economic answer.
MBASchooled: During your internship, who were the people that were most helpful to you?
Taylor: My manager and immediate team were incredibly helpful. My manager was a product marketing manager and the rest of the team were campaign marketers, so I relied on each of them for different things. While my manager was invaluable in guiding my understanding of product-related questions and introducing me to the broader organization, my team helped out considerably in understanding how marketing beats were executed.
MBASchooled: Looking back, is there anything you would have done differently?
Taylor: I would have made more of an effort to hang out with the other MBA interns outside of work. Everyone kind of lived all over the place from Berkeley to various parts of SF to Redwood City, so it was more difficult to meet up on the weekends than I anticipated going into the internship. Late in the summer, EA gave us some budget to have an MBA-specific event (the program was only six people, with nearly 100 undergrad interns), so we went for drinks and mini golf in the Mission at Urban Putt. It was a great time and I just wish we would have had a chance to do it again!
MBASchooled: Going into the summer, did you have any goals for your internship? If so, how did you feel about how you did in achieving them?
Taylor: My goals for the summer were:
1) build a strong network across EA,
2) gain a deep understanding of the subscription space,
3) learn about marketing’s role in product management,
4) understand how EA Access uses data/insights to affect change,
5) understand how EA acts on customer feedback.
I feel like I achieved all of my goals through a combination of putting myself out there, having frequent check-ins with my manager, and getting involved with the right meetings. As an example, my project around building a business case for a premium tier service relied on analytics and sensitivity analysis, and was directed by the product management team, allowing me to address a couple of my goals.