A summer data analytics internship with Ahold Delhaize, a world-leading food retailer based in the Netherlands, gave Allen Primack ’21 practical knowledge about leveraging data and working in project teams. Primack majors in Data Analytics (Economics) and Global Commerce. Midway through the summer, he shared more about his experience in Q & A.

What are you doing for your internship? What are some of your responsibilities?

The main purpose of my internship is conducting an in-depth analysis of consumer data for the Ahold Delhaize-affiliated grocery stores, looking at product departments and categories. The goal is to leverage the data to help the stores make informed decisions regarding their shelf space.

Stores strive to have an optimal allocation of products, in order to maximize their profits and retain their customers. Optimizing the space on the shelves of these stores, by leveraging data, involves analysis of certain trends in the data, sales figures, and current allocations and their success, along with many others.

As an intern on the assortment services team, I’m working with data to help determine the optimal size of each category within the grocery stores. Changes in consumer preferences of products require changes in stores’ allocations, and this is a highly important process. In my role, my main project is leveraging data on natural and organic products, answering key questions surrounding the placement of these products while making recommendations to store planners based off of the data.

The initial portion of the internship involves attending high-level training, meeting relevant teams — job shadowing macro, micro, in-store, and innovation and technology teams. Gathering data on a day-to-day basis and staying updated is an essential function.

I’m currently working on a wide range of projects regarding shelf space optimization, incorporating both macro and micro space. I’m assisting the assortment services and planning teams with the natural and organic product category at the moment — which is one of the fastest-growing categories, thus making it one of the most important to optimize. My hours are 8am-5pm with a lunch break between 12-1. It’s been great helping the company thus far, putting all of the skills that I’ve learned at Denison thus far, especially through my data analytics and statistics coursework, to good use.

What do you like most about your internship so far? What has been your favorite part of the experience?

My favorite part of my internship is the people that I’ve been able to get to know and work with thus far. Everyone that I’ve connected with has been so welcoming, friendly, helpful, and knowledgeable. Some great people in the company have helped me to get acclimated and settled into this new role, along with providing me with recommendations for things to do in the Carlisle, Pennsylvania area- and area that is still new to me.

Along with the people, I’ve also really liked working through some of the data, and I’ve also been able to have some great food! I’ve valued every conversation I’ve had thus far in my internship, and I’ve been able to learn so much in a short period of time.

Which skills have you learned or strengthened during your internship that you think will help when applying for jobs/graduate schools?

Thus far, I’ve been able to learn more about utilizing Microsoft Office tools, something that I wasn’t too comfortable with before starting the internship. I’ve already completed multiple tasks with Microsoft Excel, which has allowed me to improve my excel skills. Furthermore, I’ve had my first experience with creating and maintaining databases in Microsoft Access, a skill that I think will be very beneficial to me throughout this internship.

I’ve also been able to learn more about the retail industry, and everything that goes into it. It’s a highly complex industry, and I’m enjoying becoming more familiar with some of the terminology and processes in the industry. This has allowed me to gain a greater appreciation of the industry and those who work in it.

I think the data analytics that I’m conducting on real-world data, that will have real-world impact, will help me when applying for jobs/graduate skills. Some would argue that the work I’ll be involved with is high-stakes, and directly impacts the success of the company and each of the stores that we work with.

Connecting with others throughout the company, and networking effectively throughout the Summer will also be very helpful to me when applying for jobs/graduate schools. I will also be giving many presentations throughout the Summer, which will be great practice for the real world, where I’ll likely be giving presentations and partaking in important meetings very frequently. The problem-solving skills that I’ll be able to attain from this internship will definitely be useful when applying for jobs/graduate schools.

A goal of mine is to eventually enroll in an MBA program, and I’m constantly looking for applicable skills to gain and topics to learn that will prepare me for the application process.

How has your time and experience at Denison prepared you for this internship? How have you used your liberal arts education during your internship?

Denison’s liberal arts education has allowed me to master my reading, writing, problem-solving, and communication skills, along with many others, which I’ve been able to apply to my internship. My data analytics, computer science, and math/statistics coursework have given me the technical skills to succeed in tasks relating to data.

This past spring, my CS 181 course (data systems with Dr. Kelley), allowed me to learn SQL, which I’ve already used throughout my internship. I’ll be doing a lot of work with SQL databases, and Dr. Kelley’s course has prepared me well for this type of work.

My involvement outside of the classroom, which has given me leadership experience, has helped me to improve my confidence and professionalism, allowing me to smoothly transition into my role with the company. I’ve always tried to seek out every opportunity outside of the classroom, as the skills learned and connections I’ve made within campus organizations have carried over to the professional world.

Denison has taught me key time-management skills, and I’ve been able to gain a “hustle,” which I’ve carried with me to the professional world. I’m tremendously thankful for all of the opportunities that Denison has provided me, both inside and outside of the classroom, and I’ve learned a tremendous amount, allowing me to grow as a young professional. Without Denison’s liberal arts education, I would not have been as prepared, confident, and skilled in this role as I currently am.

When interviewing for this internship in the first place, the hiring manager proclaimed how valuable a liberal arts education was in her mind, and how she was confident in how Denison has prepared me for this role. I definitely think this is true, and I’ve further immersed myself in the liberal arts. I find myself applying things that I’ve learned throughout my time at Denison to almost every aspect of my internship.

September 6, 2019