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Consumer Packaged Goods Industry Guide

Apple

Average Intern Salary $4,914
Average Starting Salary $55,000

Apple tops our list for two reasons: it is growing like crazy and it is well-liked by its employees. It isn’t the only tech company making our Top 25, but it is the one with the most prestige and highest brand recognition. There’s great job stability and you get to be a part of one of the most innovative companies in the world, delivering top products to consumers. The onsite fitness centers and cafeteria won’t entirely make up for the lack of advancement and the constant politics in higher-level positions, but you’ll be well compensated.

Apple’s interns get a lot of experience and work with smart people. They loved their jobs but had two very key things to say about the experience as a whole. The first thing that bothered most of the interns was Apple’s infamous tendency for secrecy. It gets in the way of efficiency and communication. The other downfall to Apple (both its internship program and the company in general) is that it is very segmented. If you know what you’re passionate about and what career path you want to follow, you’ll love it at Apple. But if you want to explore other options and experiment in different departments, you’re pretty much out of luck.

Bottom Line:
Apple is tailored for those ambitious people who know exactly what they want and are willing to participate in the politics to achieve their goals.


Procter & Gamble

Intern Class Size 500+ per year
Average Intern Salary $3,588
Average Starting Salary $45,096

Procter & Gamble is a fantastic place, full of great people who love their jobs (which is why it’s on Apple’s heels on our Top 25 list). There is a lot of lateral movement within the company, making it easy enough to figure out where you really belong and what you like to do. That said, the company is also very conservative. It does not take risks and it does not move fast, which means that both promotions and lay-offs are a long-time coming. This means that poor performers stay employed and hard workers stay stuck, resulting in low turnover and precious few climbing opportunities. Advancement is not quick and is often ruled by company politics the higher you go, so you have to be in for the long haul.

Internships at Procter & Gamble reflect the company’s culture. The training program is highly praised, most interns have involved managers determined to make their experience worthwhile, and the ability to explore other areas and departments really hit home with a lot of interns. There is also a lot of bureaucracy, which has a tendency to get in the way of decision-making.

Bottom Line:
If you can handle the company politics and a slow and steady burn for cooking up a promotion, Procter & Gamble will make your time at the company worth it.


Motorola Mobility

Intern Class Size 500+ per year
Average Intern Salary $3,534
Average Starting Salary $30,501

Motorola Mobility is an interesting case, since it was recently split up and bought by Google. Most people consider this to be a good thing, pulling Motorola into an ever-advancing tech community. And, since the launch of the Moto X, it seems very apparent that Motorola is on the forefront of technology. On top of that, there is good work-life balance, a friendly working environment, and lots of smart, passionate people.

The internship is often described as a great experience, with great opportunities to work with innovative new technology and intelligent people, but there seemed to be very little focus on personal development and career advancement, mostly because the company is in the midst of an identity crisis since its acquisition by Google.

Bottom Line:
Only time will tell what Google’s involvement will do for this company, but most employees are cautiously optimistic about Motorola Mobility’s future.


The Coca-Cola Company

Average Intern Salary $4,750
Average Starting Salary $39,552

Like Apple, Coca-Cola is growing, its employees are happy, and its brand is internationally recognized (in fact, in some parts of the world, it’s brand is the generic term for soda pop). The company pays well and its employees are smart and innovative. But it is a large company with its own politics, as is the case with most CPG companies, and its size hampers decision-making.

Coca-Cola interns learn a lot, and work with passionate people who care about the brand and the direction of the company. The hours can be long, but the experience is invaluable and the name on your resume has a lot of power.

Bottom Line:
Working at Coca-Cola guarantees free soda pop and a stable job with opportunity for both advancement and career switches.


PepsiCo

Average Intern Salary $4,068
Average Starting Salary $46,995

Hot on the heels of its top competitor, PepsiCo makes our list for the same reasons that Coca-Cola does. But it is trailing behind Coke for one key reason, and that is high turnover. This is unusual in the CPG industry, and indicative of how fast Pepsi burns out its employees. They love what they do and they are committed to the brand, but a person can only take long hours and competitive conditions for so long before seeking opportunities elsewhere. That’s not to say that the company isn’t a great one, but it takes a special person to stick it out through the politics and advance up the corporate ladder.

Interns had very few bad things to say about PepsiCo’s internship program, commenting a few times at the lack of structure but gushing about the great people, cultural awareness, and learning opportunities that they had the pleasure of experiencing during their internships.

Bottom Line:
Pepsi is a top-notch CPG company and it is built for the young and the eager. There are good growth opportunities for those who have the stamina to work for them, but the older you get the more likely it is you’ll be looking to make a change.


Lenovo

Average Intern Salary $2,880
Average Starting Salary $38,288

Lenovo is what its employees call “a truly global company,” which has both pros and cons. The good news is that you are working with great people and reasonable management on international projects for a dynamic tech company. The bad news is that you’re on a global clock, which can mean some seriously long hours, especially in a company headquartered in Hong Kong.

Internships are informative and give you the chance to work with Lenovo’s awesome technology. Management is helpful and despite the international timetable, work-life balance is pretty good.

Bottom Line:
This is an international corporation with some huge limitations. It moves slowly and has to deal with a number of issues that span several continents. Despite this, the company is on the rise and its employees are happy.


Nike, Inc.

Intern Class Size 200+ per year
Average Intern Salary $2,003
Average Starting Salary $33,011

Nike is a company full of great values and brilliant minds, centered wholly on team sports. But it is a huge company, and that team mentality forces a meeting before any decision is made, making the process slow and cumbersome. As it has gotten bigger, advancement at Nike has become more and more dependent upon the politics. Its pay is also sadly lacking, as Nike believes that just being a part of the company should be reward enough, and for some, it is.

Nike’s internships are great, though. You get lots of experience and discount on the merchandise. Management is happy to help and mentor you through your time with Nike.

Bottom Line:
You need to live and breathe and love Nike for this company to be a long-term option for you, because the pay is not going to be motivation enough to keep you here.


General Mills

Average Intern Salary $3,800
Average Starting Salary $48,568

Like most of the top CPG companies, General Mills is true to the industry on low turnover and great culture. Positions in its ranks are highly coveted, which makes upward mobility very limited. The people are great, very intelligent and helpful, and you will feel welcomed and at home. If you end up at headquarters (Minneapolis, MN), get used to cold winters. I mean it.

Internships at General Mills are great. You will work with caring management that is very focused on personal development, there will be activities and events to meet other interns and to network within the company, and you have a great time. General Mills’s size makes it a little likely to get lost in the crowd, so you have to work hard to stand out.

Bottom Line:
The worst part about this company is getting your foot in the door. From there, it’s just a matter of figuring out which department you belong in.


Kraft Foods

Intern Class Size 200+ per year
Average Intern Salary $3,882
Average Starting Salary $37,763

Since its split from Mondelez International, Kraft has been trying to reinvent itself, tending toward a more lean structure. This has caused an interesting shift in the dynamics, causing employees to take on 2-3 different functions, requiring a lot of flexibility and adaptability. The work environment is getting more inclusive, as the company is trying to bring down the walls that separate management and the higher ups from the rest of the employees, but the company’s size still inhibits decision-making, and politics have not been completely eradicated from promotion decisions.

The internship is designed to be rotational, so that interns get the chance to see many different aspects of the company. Management does a good job of mentoring their interns and explaining job function and potential career paths, but even the interns could see that the company is in slight disarray and needs to make its communication more efficient.

Bottom Line:
Kraft is remaking itself, and most of its employees want to be there to see how everything shakes out.


Unilever

Intern Class Size 100+ per year
Average Intern Salary $3,403
Average Starting Salary $55,000

Unilever is a massive company controlling global brands. The people are happy enough, and employees talk a lot about how smart and fun their coworkers are, but because of Unilever’s size, decisions are slow and the low turnover limits advancement opportunities. We hear that there is sometimes free ice cream, though.

Interns get a lot of great experience and flexibility, and a lot of them are pleased with the company’s vision and dedication to environmental stability. They note that there’s not as much work-life balance as might be advertised, but that is the price you pay working for a global company.

Bottom Line:
Unilever is the bigs of the CPG industry, and getting your foot in the door here will not be a decision you regret.


Whirlpool

Intern Class Size 100+ per year
Average Intern Salary $5,716
Average Starting Salary $49,667

One of two Michigan-based companies in our Top 25, Whirlpool is a company loved for its stability. It has competitive pay and good people, and working at headquarters means low cost of living on the coast of Lake Michigan. Management is caring and unlike most CPG companies, there is no shortage of opportunity for advancement. The company’s size does make decision-making slow, and politics continues to play a role in who actually gets those promotions.

The internship program is diverse and well-compensated. There are great learning opportunities and helpful managers.

Bottom Line:
If you can play the political games every now and then and don’t mind moving to Michigan, Whirlpool has a lot to offer.


adidas

Average Intern Salary $2,080
Average Starting Salary $45,000

Trailing after its competitor Nike, adidas has a lot to offer. It is a great place for sports-minded team players, and has good benefits and a good work atmosphere. There are lots of chances for travel, both within the U.S. and internationally, and you get a good discount. That said, this is a German company, and it is very clear where the power resides when it comes to decision-making. It takes a long time for anything to get done, and the final say comes from headquarters in Germany.

Internships at adidas are relaxed and set in a good learning environment, making the experience worthwhile and fun.

Bottom Line:
The retail sports industry is a great place to work if you love sports, and if you can handle the lower pay, adidas can be a supportive and comfortable employer.


Colgate-Palmolive

Average Intern Salary $2,902
Average Starting Salary $58,400

Colgate is a secure, safe company with nice people and good benefits. It is very cushy and not really the atmosphere for innovation or creativity. There’s some politics in the hierarchy but overall this is a company appreciated for its consistency.

Interns are given real projects that affect the company. They get enough responsibility and enough guidance that the experience is generally a very positive one, made better by on-site cafeterias and discounts on CP merchandise.

Bottom Line:
Colgate is a great company. They don’t make great innovative leaps, but they also don’t make enemies.


ConAgra Foods

Intern Class Size 100+ per year
Average Intern Salary $2,693
Average Starting Salary $47,241

ConAgra is well-liked by its employees. It pays pretty well for manufacturing and offers international opportunities for those inclined to travel. The people are nice and the environment supportive. However, there is little room for climbing as the corporate ladder isn’t much more than a stepstool, leaving many employees feeling inclined to look for advancement elsewhere.

The internship is designed rotationally, so you get a lot of experience in different areas of the company. The workplace and hours are flexible, and the pay is average. Overall, it is a good experience and one that interns did not regret.

Bottom Line:
This is a good company to work for if you don’t mind lack of advancement. The people are nice and the benefits are good and vacation time is negotiable.


Anheuser-Busch

Intern Class Size 200+ per year
Average Intern Salary $3,098
Average Starting Salary $41,300

I feel like it goes without saying that if you don’t like beer, you should not work for an international beer company. Then again, there is a (hopefully) high percentage of you that don’t yet know if you like beer, so I will also say that this company demands a lot of commitment. It’s a relaxed atmosphere filled with good people, but they want your best.

The internship is a great learning experience as well as fun. You get to work with great people, and A-B will even offer relocation and housing assistance so that you actually make some money while you’re there.

Bottom Line:
Who says you can’t mix business and pleasure? Work with booze and you get a lot of both.


Kellogg Company

Average Intern Salary $2,786
Average Starting Salary $43,457

The second Michigan-based company in our Top 25 is well-known for its dedication to employee health and growth, not to mention its great brands, good benefits, and supportive people. There are good opportunities for advancement for hard-workers.

An internship with Kellogg offers great networking and career advancement, and management is happy to mentor interns and help with any questions or concerns.

Bottom Line:
The company is stable enough and well-known enough to recommend itself as a good investment.


L’Oréal

Intern Class Size 100+ per year
Average Intern Salary $2,955
Average Starting Salary $45,655

Everybody is in agreement that L’Oréal has a lot to offer, with good benefits and a decent salary, not to mention you get to work with a global brand and you get free L’Oréal products. But the work hours are long, and frankly, if you’re not French, your opportunities for advancement will be few and far between.

The internship experience is reflective of the company as a whole. It’s a fast-paced environment with a lot of experience with innovation and brand, but the hours are long, the program is very competitive, and the hierarchy of the business is very limiting.

Bottom Line:
Visit France and learn French before you apply and your experience will be stellar. Otherwise, you will still get a lot out of it, but you won’t climb very high on the corporate ladder.


Michelin

Average Intern Salary $2,960
Average Starting Salary $49,272

Michelin is a great company. It is stable and comfortable, filled with coworker camaraderie and good work ethic. It practices diverse hiring and promotion, and keeps its promises to its employees. Advancement within the company often does require frequent relocation, though, and management salaries aren’t quite as high as some of the others in the industry.

The internship is designed to give students hands-on experience in a global market. Interns are given responsibility and good support in order to ensure the best opportunity possible.

Bottom Line:
As long as you don’t have aspirations of the same white picket fence year after year, Michelin is a great place to keep a steady job with good people.


Tyson Foods

Intern Class Size 50 per year
Average Intern Salary $1,920
Average Starting Salary $37,000

Tyson Foods has great opportunities for growth as a company even if current potential for advancement as an employee is somewhat lacking. It is stable and characterized by a friendly work environment, with good benefits and reasonable pay.

Tyson likes to hire in-house, so an internship is a great way to give management an idea of what you’re capable of. They’re also the second-largest food company in the Fortune 500, so their name doesn’t look too shabby on a resume.

Bottom Line:
This is a stable company with a good work environment that can’t offer you much more than the promise that you’ll have a job for as long as you keep showing up to work.


Dannon

Average Intern Salary $2,004
Average Starting Salary $44,500

The market is growing and the jobs are stable at Dannon. There is a lot of opportunity to be had and the people love their work. The work is very fast-paced and subject to change with very little notice, so adaptability is a must for employees. You won’t get very much recognition here, and switching departments isn’t exactly encouraged.

Yogurt haters need not apply, because you get it free and frozen with this internship, with some Evian water to wash it down. There’s good pay and great support from management. You’ll learn a lot and get networking opportunities galore.

Bottom Line:
If you can handle the changing nature of the work, you’ll do very well to get your foot in the door at this fast-growing yogurt company.


Altria

Intern Class Size 200+ per year
Average Intern Salary $2,984
Average Starting Salary $47,000

This a stable company with good pay, benefits, and vacation days. Work days are flexible, and management is relatively in-tune with their staff’s needs. However, unless you are willing to relocate, opportunities for advancement will be scarce.

Altria’s internships are jam-packed with experience. You get a week of training and then it’s off to the races with responsibility for challenging projects and opportunities to work cross-functionally with different departments. There are good networking and travel opportunities, and few interns walk away unsatisfied.

Bottom Line:
This is a good company to get an introduction to the consumer products industry and then find other employment with better opportunities for promotions.


Diageo

Average Intern Salary $4,500
Average Starting Salary $43,000

Diageo is a top name in the consumer packaged goods industry, and the company offers great perks, good benefits, and decent salaries. There’s good work-life balance, not to mention weekly happy hours (after all, Diageo is the parent of brands like Smirnoff, Bacardi... you get the picture). However, if you really want to advance, you need to be willing to travel, specifically to the U.K.

Diageo’s internships are for supply chain management majors, and they are a great way to get exposure in the industry and a foot in the door at one of the world’s best brands.

Bottom Line:
Diageo is a growing company in a growing industry, and it wants more commitment from its ambitious employees than a lot of its comrades. If you can handle that, you will excel here.


Nestlé

Intern Class Size 50+ per year
Average Intern Salary $3,200
Average Starting Salary $41,200

The people at Nestlé are fun to work with and supportive, the benefits are good, the salary is competitive, and the perks are pretty awesome (some of the locations have gyms, company stores, etc.). However, as is often the refrain in the consumer products industry, climbing the corporate ladder is very difficult and takes a special kind of person to claw their way up the hierarchy.

The internships are rotational to give interns a good look at different aspects of the company. You’ll get great work experience, not to mention the brand itself on your resume.

Bottom Line:
Nestlé is a well-known and respected international brand, and any kind of work experience in its ranks will help you wherever you want to go in life (which may be elsewhere if you hit a ceiling within the company).


Stanley Black & Decker

Average Intern Salary $2,174
Average Starting Salary $40,950

You’re going to be working with great people, get decent benefits, and earn a fair salary, but you are going to be working long and hard. There is very little downtime to be had at Stanley Black & Decker, so suck it up, buttercup, because when you’re selling power tools that work long hours, you have to keep up.

Stanley Black & Decker does not have an internship program, it has a leadership program, designed to jumpstart your career and get you off to a great start within the company.

Bottom Line:
Stanley Black & Decker is a roll-your-sleeves-up-and-get-to-work kind of company, and they’ll expect you to give your all.


S.C. Johnson

Average Intern Salary $3,200
Average Starting Salary $43,544

One of the best brands in the world and a leader in environmental sustainability, S.C. Johnson makes a good name for itself (branding, everybody). The pay is pretty good, and so are the benefits, but there’s just not anything all that good or bad to say about the work as a whole. It is an entirely average experience, apparently.

The interns get treated well and work on projects with actual impact within the company. The pay is competitive and the experience is valuable.

Bottom Line:
Get S.C. Johnson’s good name on your resume and you’re set. You might even get a full-time offer after you graduate, but there aren’t many arguments encouraging you to or discouraging you from taking it.