Like millions of other people across the country, Payton Lang used Procter and Gamble-owned products every day. From hair products to face lotion to her laundry detergent, Lang regularly used the products of the company she’d soon be working for. After interning with Procter and Gamble in Fayetteville, Arkansas, this past summer, Lang performed well enough to secure a permanent position.
“I’ve always known the brand, and had an interest in it,” Lang says. “But while I was in high school, I thought I’d be interested in accounting since I liked math. I only discovered my interest in Marketing here at Wash U.”
At just 21, Lang was the chapter president of Gamma Phi Beta at Washington University in St. Louis Olin Business School, where she majored in Economics and Strategy. Graduating in three and a half years, Lang received an Omega Individual Award for her chapter leadership in 2017.
THE P&G EXPERIENCE
Lang first made contact with the global company at a university-wide career fair in September of 2017. While at the fair, Lang met with account executives from Procter and Gamble and found out about the internship position. Days after that, she sent an application with her resume and cover letter.
From there, things moved fast. By October, she had been invited to take part in an on-campus assessment where she was tested on her math, reading, and comprehension skills, which she says was similar to taking the SATs. “It’s not something to really prepare for, though they gave us some sample questions to have an idea of what was coming,” she recalls.
By the end of October, Lang was on the phone for an interview with the company. She says that they asked her behavioral type questions over an hour and that the questions focused on the context-action-result process.
Around early-November, the company flew Lang to Cincinnati to meet in person. “I’m involved in a lot of different organizations on campus that gave me a good level of experience,” Lang says. “In Cincinnati, we had dinner plans to meet current account executives and managers to learn about the environment and the role, listened to speakers, interviewed and explored the corporate offices. It was a great experience where they were not only assessing us to see if we were a fit, but encouraging us to ask questions and see if they were a fit for us.”
Just three weeks later, Lang was offered the internship. “I was excited to go on my first actual internship that could go on to be a full-time job,” she says.
While at Procter and Gamble, Lang was assigned to the Walmart team, where she worked with a manager in the personal healthcare sector. The team dealt with brands including Vicks and Pepto Bismol and she went to work on marketing campaigns and merchandising plans. Towards the end of her summer, Lang says she experienced her most challenging week as two of the projects she was working on were finishing, and she had to make a presentation to the seniors. Though stressful, Lang says she learned to prepare early in order to leverage the resources in her team members and mentors. Lang could not only reach out to her manager for help, but she says the company also had a buddy system, where staff were matched with interns based on common interests or backgrounds, and they’d help the interns with everyday questions.
“They have a wonderful culture with lots of informal mentorships, where everyone took time to know me and find out what I was interested in to help develop me,” she says. “My favorite class at Wash U was in management communication and I definitely used it at P&G. The real application helped me develop my communication skills even further, and it’s all about what people are looking for, and how they think.”
Lang was able to leverage her internship into a full-time position as a category development manager in the fabric care division for P&G.
During her last semester last fall, Lang spent time and resources developing and solidifying connections with her friends, faculty, and the community, as well as finish up her marketing major. And for relaxation, Lang says she completed a course called “Women in Leadership,” as well as a group fitness class.
“It’s exciting to be part of the fight for more representation for women in business, and for women to be heard and valued at the table,” she says.
And from Lang to business students working on their careers, she says it’s important to define what success looks like to them before starting to look around.
“Think about what you want to see in your life, and your career goals. Mine is to be doing meaningful work with meaningful people,” she says. “Then use your resources, and be your authentic self. Those are the most important things.”