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Troy Meyers ’13: Internships can lead to Jobs

Troy Meyers ’13 - Why do students get summer internships? This question yields two answers. One response is because all students want to make money over the summer. Which is 100% true. No one wants to be stuck at Wabash with no money to buy books or other items used during the weekend to pass time! The second answer to my question is students want to find a career path that interests them and possibly obtain a job because of their internship. Luckily for me, and thanks to the Small Business Internship Fund,  I have been able to accomplish both!

Working for Tim Craft ’00 at CBRE, commercial real estate company, has surpassed all my expectations and provided me with opportunities I could not have foreseen. Being my second summer with Tim, he was adamant about making this summer’s experience comparable to being a newly employed real estate agent. For this to happen, I spent the first month of the summer getting my real estate license so I would not be prohibited from doing all the tasks of a broker.

Once I got started, Tim told me this summer was about building my book of business and getting potential clients. I quickly learned why some people hate “cold calling”! Spending most of your day getting blank stares from people or getting rejected is not ideal for most, but meeting that one person who listens to you and becomes your best client is what keeps you going. I enjoyed being able to talk to so many people and build relationships with potential clients.

In one circumstance, the client needed to relocate but was unsure where would be the best fit. With the help of Tim, I am in the process of moving her into a better location that will allow her business to grow. Not only was it a win for her, it provided me with the experience of the transaction and a nice bonus to take care of those school expenses!

Now that the summer is coming to an end, Tim wants to meet with the office manager and get me lined up to for a job with CBRE upon graduation in May 2012!

Carl Rivera ’13: Small Business Branding

Carl Rivera ’13 – Wouldn’t it be cool to have a job where every morning you wake up knowing you are going to make a new friend from a different state, country or even continent? Well that’s my job…for the summer at least. Thanks to the Small Business Internship Fund, this summer I am interning for Jason Bridges ’98 at Nantucket Bike Tours in Nantucket, Massachusetts. When I told my friends in the great state of Indiana this exciting news, I received two responses: 1.  “You’re spending the summer on Nantucket Island? That’s awesome! How did you get that?” or 2. “Where’s that?” For those of you who know of Nantucket, need I say more? For those of you who don’t know of this beautiful Island, do some research or take a tour!

Working with Jason has being nothing short of spectacular.  Jason’s enthusiasm and passion for his business has increased my desire to start my own business. Every day we look at QuickBooks to see how we can increase revenue and decrease costs. We are constantly looking for new marketing techniques to increase our visibility from improving the website or our t-shirts to posting a photo on Facebook or creating new rack cards. As a small business, we are constantly brainstorming ways in which NBT can expand. During this internship, Riley Floyd ’13 and I have had the opportunity to work with Jason and Courtney in creating a new segment of NBT, Nantucket Running Tours.

One thing I have learned from Jason is whether it’s posting a comment on Facebook or walking downtown to grab an iced coffee, we are constantly branding ourselves. In a small community like Nantucket or Crawfordsville, it is hard to not be visible. Lending a helping hand or even giving a stranger a smile can go a long way. Throughout the internship, I have been reading Dale Carnegie’s “How to Win Friends and Influence People.” Jason and I have daily discussions about our past experiences with what Carnegie presents and also how we can practice these tools in our tours. Every tour is different. That means, as a guide, we must be aware of facial expressions, body language, and different clues on how the person is feeling and what interests them. Some clients are huge history buffs and want all the information I can give them while some love taking pictures and just want to enjoy some company. Our goal as a guide is to give each client the best experience he/she can have on Nantucket and that experience is different for everyone.

This internship has given me a great opportunity to learn how to properly run a small business, network, and adapt to different people. Every day, I increase my knowledge of business, meet new enthusiastic people, and ride my bike…all on Nantucket Island. Not bad for a summer internship, huh?

Carl Rivera ‘13

I Won’t Hire People Who Use Poor Grammar. Here’s Why.

by Kyle Wiens

If you think an apostrophe was one of the 12 disciples of Jesus, you will never work for me. If you think a semicolon is a regular colon with an identity crisis, I will not hire you. If you scatter commas into a sentence with all the discrimination of a shotgun, you might make it to the foyer before we politely escort you from the building.

Some might call my approach to grammar extreme, but I prefer Lynne Truss’s more cuddly phraseology: I am a grammar “stickler.” And, like Truss — author of Eats, Shoots & Leaves — I have a “zero tolerance approach” to grammar mistakes that make people look stupid.

Now, Truss and I disagree on what it means to have “zero tolerance.” She thinks that people who mix up their itses “deserve to be struck by lightning, hacked up on the spot and buried in an unmarked grave,” while I just think they deserve to be passed over for a job — even if they are otherwise qualified for the position.

Everyone who applies for a position at either of my companies, iFixit or Dozuki, takes a mandatory grammar test. Extenuating circumstances aside (dyslexia, English language learners, etc.), if job hopefuls can’t distinguish between “to” and “too,” their applications go into the bin.

Of course, we write for a living. iFixit.com is the world’s largest online repair manual, and Dozuki helps companies write their own technical documentation, like paperless work instructions and step-by-step user manuals. So, it makes sense that we’ve made a preemptive strike against groan-worthy grammar errors.

But grammar is relevant for all companies. Yes, language is constantly changing, but that doesn’t make grammar unimportant. Good grammar is credibility, especially on the internet. In blog posts, on Facebook statuses, in e-mails, and on company websites, your words are all you have. They are a projection of you in your physical absence. And, for better or worse, people judge you if you can’t tell the difference between their, there, and they’re.

Good grammar makes good business sense — and not just when it comes to hiring writers. Writing isn’t in the official job description of most people in our office. Still, we give our grammar test to everybody, including our salespeople, our operations staff, and our programmers.

On the face of it, my zero tolerance approach to grammar errors might seem a little unfair. After all, grammar has nothing to do with job performance, or creativity, or intelligence, right?

Wrong. If it takes someone more than 20 years to notice how to properly use “it’s,” then that’s not a learning curve I’m comfortable with. So, even in this hyper-competitive market, I will pass on a great programmer who cannot write.

Grammar signifies more than just a person’s ability to remember high school English. I’ve found that people who make fewer mistakes on a grammar test also make fewer mistakes when they are doing something completely unrelated to writing — like stocking shelves or labeling parts.

In the same vein, programmers who pay attention to how they construct written language also tend to pay a lot more attention to how they code. You see, at its core, code is prose. Great programmers are more than just code monkeys; according to Stanford programming legend Donald Knuth they are “essayists who work with traditional aesthetic and literary forms.” The point: programming should be easily understood by real human beings — not just computers.

And just like good writing and good grammar, when it comes to programming, the devil’s in the details. In fact, when it comes to my whole business, details are everything.

I hire people who care about those details. Applicants who don’t think writing is important are likely to think lots of other (important) things also aren’t important. And I guarantee that even if other companies aren’t issuing grammar tests, they pay attention to sloppy mistakes on résumés. After all, sloppy is as sloppy does.

That’s why I grammar test people who walk in the door looking for a job. Grammar is my litmus test. All applicants say they’re detail-oriented; I just make my employees prove it.

[[Editors' note: If you're interested in improving your writing skills, please consider our Guide to Better Business Writing book]]

Join us for a Twitter chat about this blog post on Thursday, July 26 at 1pm ET. Follow @HBRexchange and #HBRchat. Details here.

 

More blog posts by Kyle Wiens
                                                                   More on: Business writing, Communication, Personal effectiveness

 

Kyle Wiens

Kyle Wiens

Kyle Wiens is CEO of iFixit, the largest online repair community, as well as founder of Dozuki, a software company dedicated to helping manufacturers publish amazing documentation.

Tyler Hardcastle ’15: Sees Product from Production to Sale

Tyler Hardcastle ’15 – This summer I’m interning with both of Andrew Shelton’s ’03 companies, TrackPack Coolers and Paramount Mold. J.J. Peller ’13 is also interning here in Fort Lauderdale and both of us are funded by the Small Business Internship Fund. In his blog earlier this summer, http://blogs.wabash.edu/littlegiants-bigresults/2012/06/07/insight-to-running-a-small-business/, J.J. wrote about our work with Paramount, a plastics company, so I though I’d write more about TrackPack Coolers.

The TrackPack chills twenty beverages that can be accessed from the backpack’s side pockets.  This is made possible by a plastic frame, placed inside the cooler (check out the video here, http://www.trackpackcoolers.com/servlet/StoreFront?disp=6#trackpackvideo. After acquiring Paramount Mold, Andrew Shelton moved the production of his frames to the factory. In the early weeks of our internships, J.J. and I were able to learn about the plastic injection process by watching (and helping) produce the frames for TrackPack Coolers.

The process begins when small pellets of soon-to-be plastic called “resin” are fed into a press where they are heated. When the resin is hot enough it is quickly injected through a barrel into a mold. As the mold fills with heated plastic the shape of the product, in this case the TrackPack frame, begins to form. When the product has been shaped, the mold cools and splits into its two halves and metal pins eject the product.

Last weekend we loaded the TrackPack RV with plenty of bags, frames, gel-packs, and headed up to the Coke Zero 400 in Daytona Beach, FL. TrackPack Coolers got its start at NASCAR races around Indiana, so Adam Andrews ’12 and Andrew Shelton wanted to start building a base of races to attend closer to the company’s new location.

We arrived early in the morning, the day before the race. Even before we had parked and unpacked our trailer three people came up and asked us how quickly they could buy a cooler. We broke even on the second day and kept selling from that point on.

The whole weekend was a great experience in learning how to make sales but also in how to plan an event for a small business. Going into the weekend, we had to budget out gas (an RV takes quite a bit), make sure we had the right inventory, and most importantly find a good location.

I am thankful to the SBIF, Andrew Shelton, and Wabash College for providing this opportunity. I encourage perspective and current students alike to pursue this program.

Tyler Hardcastle

Wabash College ’15

Adam Boehm ’15: Project & Event Management

Adam Boehm ’15 -Within my first couple days of interning with Career Services I was told to make a LinkedIn account.  Simple.  I began as I would with any other social media account by filling out my personal information and writing a brief bio.  In the Job Title line for my current position I entered “Project & Event Management Intern”.  The description for the position, well… that was unknown to me.  To be honest, I had very little knowledge of what I would be doing for the summer.  I was told to leave this description section blank until I knew more of what I was doing with the internship.  Now, over two months into the job, the description is still blank.

With the time I’ve spent under the direction of Scott Crawford, James Jeffries, and Angie Bridwell, I now have a much stronger grasp of what I am doing, as well as a much greater appreciation for everything the Career Services department does for the Wabash community.  From exploring a college owned area in the woods known as “The Patch”, managing the department’s social media, and editing resumes, to connecting with alumni, planning a trip to Chicago, and organizing the 7th Annual Wabash College Community Fair, I have definitely stayed busy.

I have many responsibilities working as a Project & Event Management Intern.  In the first week of work I went through Peer Career Advisor training.  This training was an essential part of my internship, as it not only taught me valuable skills involving resume editing and career advising, but also helped to familiarize myself with the numerous resources Career Services offers.  One of the biggest obstacles Career Services runs into is getting students to utilize their many resources and expertise.  Part of my job has been to come up with ways to increase student involvement.  After days of brainstorming we were able to come up with several great ideas that we are in the process of developing (Trust me, you’ll love them!).

Along with the new ideas, we’ve also created a brand new social media resource on Pinterest!  This has been a fun project for me to work on and includes loads of great information about how to dress for an interview, resume advice, Career Services resource links, fun infographics, intern spotlights, and much more.  Check out what I’ve been working on at www.pinterest.com/wabashcareer!

Although most of my time is spent in the Career Services building, I have been able to get out on my feet and meet with many of the Crawfordsville businesses to discuss the upcoming Community Fair.  This will be the 7th annual fair and is looking like it will be a great success!  Preparing and organizing the event has by far taken up the majority of my time each day.  Putting together an event that is host to nearly 75 vendors and 600 attendees is no easy task – not to mention designing the event T-Shirt and hiring a caterer.  Needless to say, I’ve taken a few steps outside my comfort zone preparing an event this size.  For more information about the upcoming event, go to www.wabash.edu/careers/fair.

This internship has been quite rewarding knowing that the work I put in this summer is going to help both current and future students with their futures and careers.  The skills I’ve developed, exposure to the real world, and the professional experience have been vastly beneficial to me.  These are all things that I will carry into the future as I continue my Wabash and professional careers.  I would like to thank the Schroeder Center for Career Development for hiring me as a summer intern.  I have loved working with everyone here and look forward to seeing our ideas come to life at the start of the school year.

Now, back to work I go as we finish the last night of our trip in Chicago!

 

Jim Youn ’14: Media Arm of The Organization

Jim Youn ’14 - In D.C. Each morning, I’m shaken from my sleep by the noise that seeps in from outside; the hustle and bustle of the people of D.C., the morning construction crews, and the sound of my roommate’s alarm.

I get to work and get there on time, which means early, because of the fear of the real world. I know that in college I was cuddled and never faced the full consequences of my actions. However, in the world of the employed, there are no such things as second chances. With very limited experience in  a professional environment, I wanted to make sure that I got off to a great start. In a way, this fear of mine becomes a sort of respect for the professional world.

However, to call my workplace an environment driven by fear would be a grave mistake. My desire to get to work on time comes from a respect for what Eric Eversole ’94 brings to the table in his organization. Eric founded and directs the Military Voter Protection Project (MVP Project), a non-profit organization bent on improving the electoral process for military voters. His efforts supporting the MVP Project has slowly but surely begun a reaction that hopefully will become the catalyst to directing attention towards the plight of our servicemen.

My contribution towards this goal has been as the media arm of our organization. Working alongside my partner-in-crime, Andrew Dettmer ’15, I’ve experienced a great deal of responsibilities that have expanded my knowledge and given me confidence in my work. Together, we’ve worked daily to expand MVP Project’s range of interests. Establishing and expanding Facebook pages, attracting Twitter users, and contacting other partner organizations are just several of our duties that occupy our time each day.

While we may not always be successful with our methods, we learn from them. My experience at MVP Project has been filled with revisions and adjustments but each mistake made has been a lesson for me. Eric and the rest of the staff here at MVP Project have guided me on the how-to’s and do-not’s of this area of social media and extended a hand when I felt lost in the hustle and bustle of the ceaseless work environment. As a student looking into a field of law, I get the best of two worlds in a group that uses both litigation and the media to serve its goals.

With approximately 4 weeks left in D.C., I earnestly hope that there will be much more learning and fun on the way. I’m both thankful to Wabash’s Career Services, The Small Business Internship Fund, Eric, Andrew, as well as Tyler for making this a fantastic summer. Here’s to catching a big one on the Potomac!

Shimin Ian Low ’13: The Hard Work Behind The Deal Making

 Shimin Ian Low ’13 - I am interning at a WP Global Partners (“WP”) under the watch of alumni, Greg Jania. To briefly introduce my internship, WP is a private equity Firm which deals mainly with fund-of-funds which means that WP mainly invests in the funds of other private equity firms rather than the usual direct investment in private companies.

My typical day involves sitting in and taking notes on investment pitches from other private equity firms which are seeking funding for their investments. While it may seem to others like an unimportant task, the meetings are crucial for us to sieve through the hundreds of funds in the market before we make any investment decisions which usually amount to only 3-4 investments a year. My work also involves sieving through various pitch books and memorandums for investment terms which are then compiled in to a deal log which is discussed over a meeting every week to determine whether or not to move forward with certain deals.

My other projects include reading through financial statements on companies that we directly and indirectly invest in through funds in order to track their quarterly performance. Throughout this project, I have gained valuable insight on what key ratios and indicators are used to determine the situation of a company or investment and why they are used. Aside from that, I have also been privileged to participate in writing deal reviews for potential investments which include writing up on a company and its performance as well as the general market and growth potential. This has been challenging and has certainly pushed myanalytical abilities and my ability to learn on the spot.

My time in WP has offered me a lot. Through the projects and tasks which I do daily, I have been exposed to the hard work which goes behind the deal making. Meeting high net worth clients on an almost daily basis has been inspiring, driving my spark to succeed in whatever I may attempt in my life. I appreciate this opportunity for being able to experience and appreciate the work that goes into private equity as well as the chance to amass practical experience which I will need to break into the world of finance.

My special thanks also goes out to Greg Jania for being a wonderful mentor during my time here as well as Career Services and the Small Business Internship Fund for making this possible. I encourage students to apply for this internship in the near future should they be interested in breaking in to the field of finance and to prepare ahead of time.

 

Riley Floyd ’13: Physical Activity and Hospitality

Jason Bridges '98, Riley Floyd '13

Riley Floyd ’13 - Last week, I rode 22 miles on a bike and ran a 5k-road race. And that was only Tuesday.

My internship with Nantucket Bike Tours has been nothing if not active. I’ve learned more about biking and about hospitality than I thought possible. I’ve seen so much of Nantucket that the island legitimately feels like a second home.

But the crux of this internship isn’t about the great history, the amazing food, or the fantastic people that make this place what it is. The crux of this internship is a small business. Who knew owning your own small business could be so much fun? Jason started Nantucket Bike Tours last year. And 71 (and counting) Trip Advisor reviews later, the business is the number one tour on Nantucket—thanks in no small part to the welcoming, easy going, and fun-loving atmosphere Jason and Courtney create for their customers.

The business is small: there’re only four of us working. Instead of having revenue projection meetings with anonymous colleagues, we gather around an iMac and talk about QuickBooks printouts. We decide, as a group, what pictures we want to appear on the website, how we want the copy to read, and what aesthetic we want to convey to site visitors. Here, there’s access—to understanding the workings of a small business, to friendships, and to learning more about yourself. And that access can only be found on the ground, in the thick of it—not in a classroom at Wabash or even at a business school.

A good tour isn’t based on how well you know the facts. It’s about how you talk to people. And Jason and Courtney are experts. They’ve taught Carl and I how to adapt to the different people and interests we encounter on tours. They don’t like history? Skip this stop. Averse to hills? Take this route. The fun (and the challenge) of this internship is gauging people: their interests, their enthusiasm, and how well they react to your tour. This business is about people, and that’s why this internship has been such an informative experience.

Nantucket is an active, vibrant community. We’re here to show those attributes to everyone who takes our tours. We want them to have a good time—to walk away from the tours as if their friend just showed them around a familiar place. That’s what makes Nantucket Bike Tours unique. Engaging with people—talking to them, learning about their interests—is something I’ll do for the rest of my life. NBT pushed me out of my comfort zone in an industry in which I hadn’t had much experience. Because of the lessons I’ve learned here, the skills I’ve honed, and the relationships I’ve formed here, I’ve grown.

Did I mention I can change a flat?

 

Trevor Poe ’13 Understanding the Legal Aid Society

Working at Legal Aid Society has made for an exciting and enlightening summer.  Legal Aid provides non-profit legal work for the disadvantaged inLouisville,KY(JeffersonCounty) and 14 surrounding counties.  This includes work in such fields of law as foreclosure, divorce, and state benefits.  Growing up in Southern Indiana, I thought of Louisville as some kind of far off metropolis, and getting to move home and work downtown has felt like the realization of a childhood dream.  My internship helps to pull back the curtain on both the Louisville metro area and the mysterious workings of the American legal system.  As a result, my job helps to expand my interest regarding a career in law, and open my eyes to the importance of the legal system in our lives.

During my time here, I have met both lawyers and law students, and my conversations with them serve as an important resource regarding my decision to pursue a career in law.  Our Executive Director, Wabash College Alumnus Jeff Been, serves as an example of Wabash’s ability to prepare men for the workplace.  His career advice and his help acclimating to my new position at Legal Aid prove to be some of the most valuable assets of my internship.

Certain information cannot be found in books, the classroom, or on the internet, and the Small Business Internship Program enables me to learn through workplace experience.  From my close vantage point, I observe the ins and outs of the legal profession.    It did not take long to learn that far more aspects of the legal profession exist than what appears on Law and Order.  An entire office mechanism made of lawyers, paralegals, and administrative assistants, works to assist the wheels of Justice.  During one of my visits to deliver legal documents at the Hall of Justice in Louisville, I saw for myself the expansive size of this judicial apparatus working within the American legal system.  Without the Small Business Internship Fund I might never have learned about this necessary aspect of our society.

However, my experiences have not centered solely on law.  The internship teaches me a great amount about working in an office setting.  This allows me to apply some of my knowledge acquired at Wabash, such as proficiency with Microsoft Excel, towards my work here at Legal Aid.  Just yesterday, I assisted in writing a press release for our upcoming legal clinics during the months of August and July.  I felt proud knowing that my work went to some of the local newspapers and television stations. These kinds of lessons show me that while it is very important to work both well and diligently, it is also important to enjoy the moment.  Also, events, such as our ice cream social, have done a great deal to add to a feeling of enjoyment and camaraderie in the office.

Starting the second half of my internship I have a much better understanding of a career path following my graduation from Wabash.  I know that the rest of my time here at Legal Aid Society will prove to be just as fruitful as my first month.  Monday I will be shadowing a member of our team to eviction court, and I hope to learn a great deal from the experience.  My work at Legal Aid Society pushes me towards pursuing a career in law, as I am about to start my fourth and final year at Wabash College.