Ever wonder what it would be like to intern at Coke?

Recently Hannah Thomas, a senior at the University of Warwick, served as the Brad Clemes intern at The Coca-Cola Company. Thomas is a native of Nottingham, England, and is pursuing a degree in English literature and theater studies.

Leslie Novos, Senior Vice President, Still Beverages, serves on the selection committee. While it is never an easy decision to pick an intern, Novos says Thomas' unique background and worldview helped her stand out from the other applicants.

"Hannah demonstrated through her essay and interviews a strong belief in the power of corporate social responsibility, guided by a strong moral anchor, as well as her intellectual and cultural curiosity,” Novos said. “Her efforts to help her university’s drama society creatively and profitably market and manage productions also revealed her natural business and leadership instincts. She best personified the values and character that successfully guided Brad’s career at Coca-Cola."

Thomas recently wrapped up a six-week internship with Coca-Cola Canada in Toronto, where she worked on several key marketing projects. We asked her to share what her experience was like.

Q. Why did you decide to apply for the Brad Clemes Marketing Internship?

A. I felt like I’d found something I could be good at, and the program presented a huge learning opportunity. After some encouragement from my brother and good friends, I decided to apply.

Q. What did your application essay focus on?

A. I wrote about the sustainability issues facing the UK, my home. I thought I was fairly well versed on the problems that are widely talked about, but once I started digging for more information, I found some incredibly shocking statistics surrounding water resource management. I latched onto this, as it is especially relevant to the beverage sector. I became so excited by what I was writing about that I had a hard time staying within the word limit!

Coca-Cola appreciated my boldness and was willing to give me an opportunity to learn about the realities of some of the sustainability issues the world faces, and what companies like Coca-Cola are doing about them.

Q. Why are you passionate about the link between marketing and sustainability?

A. The problems the world is facing are not being taken seriously enough, and I believe spreading this message is incredibly important. Marketing reaches and influences people every day. If this incredible resource can be harnessed for good, it can serve as a constant reminder that changing our behavior can be really powerful. When people associate their favorite brands with leading environmental initiatives, there is a chance they will really listen and make small changes. Finding effective ways to market sustainability will encourage more people to factor a company’s ethics into their purchases.

Q. Tell us a bit about what you’ve worked on during your internship.

A. I have been working with Yolanda Dasselaar, live positively manager for Coca-Cola Canada. Under her direction, I have explored the relationship between Coca-Cola and ParticipACTION [a Canadian not-for-profit dedicated to supporting active living and sports participation].

I also have examined the actions of other leading companies in Canada and compiled a best practice report. Additionally, I have been included as part of a team to see how the day-to-day running of a major brand branch of the business works. I will finish my internship working with the Diet Coke IMC team on the Toronto International Film Festival.

Q. What are your core passions?

A. I count myself very lucky to be studying something I love. As productions manager for the University of Warwick Drama Society, I oversee the many productions we put on each year, from large-scale, high-cost events to smaller weekend shows. I love working with Warwick’s amazingly talented actors to help them create truly brilliant theater. I also love sports, including cycling, yoga and skiing.

I inherited a love of people and the planet from my parents. They raised us to appreciate the privileges of a safe, secure life and to look for ways to give back to those who are less fortunate, even in really small ways. Travel is another love of mine. I’ve traveled the world since I was very young, and hope to continue exploring the rest of my life.

Q. What have you enjoyed most about this experience?

A. I have honestly enjoyed the whole process – the hard work I put into securing the interview, to the interviews themselves, to finding out I was headed to Canada. This is one of the most welcoming, friendly environments I’ve ever experienced. Within three days of being here, a member of the team helped me explore the city, and I met the other three summer interns. Everyone has made this experience amazing.

I’ve gained more faith in my own ability from this internship. It has opened my eyes to the possibilities out there. Every day I’ve learned new things about how a large corporation works …. I went from knowing very little to diving in headfirst. I’ve also met some inspiring women who will prove to be role models for me as I start out on my own career path.

About the Brad Clemes Internship

Brad Clemes was an inspirational leader whose 21 years with The Coca-Cola Company’s marketing organization spanned assignments all over the world. He was killed in 2009, when Air France flight 447 disappeared off the coast of Brazil. Aside from his many talents, Brad was known for his optimistic spirit and commitment to developing young talent.

A Coca-Cola internship program was created in 2010 to celebrate and preserve Brad’s passions and values by giving promising young professionals the opportunity to hone their skills through sustainability-focused marketing assignments. Applicants are asked to write an essay on Coca-Cola’s sustainability efforts in Canada, the UK, Turkey, South Africa or Belgium – countries that had a meaningful impact on Brad’s career. The program is open to students from three universities of particular significance: Brad’s alma mater, Wilfred Laurier University in Ontario, Canada, and those of his two sons: the University of Warwick in Coventry, UK, and King’s College in London.