Ifrat Zaman ’20 The Coaching Toolbox LLC – This summer, I virtually interned with The Coaching Toolbox LLC. The Coaching Toolbox LLC is a company that provides the highest quality resources for high school and college coaches to improve their programs. This troubled me at first because I was not a sports-person, but upon starting my internship, I quickly learned that my work was solely based on digital marketing, something that I was familiar with as I was a participant of the Marketing Immersion Program. From the very first day, I was working alongside the founder and president of the company, who is a Wabash graduate. I learned various technical skills necessary to operate websites. These were online tools that analyzed the traffic of the website, tools to create web pages, and SEO tools to optimize the website’s incoming traffic. The best part of my internship was that I was given ample opportunities to apply my newfound knowledge of these tools by applying them to existing websites. By the end of the first week, I was working on increasing the traffic to the website, which increased by over 300% by the end of my internship. I also worked on optimizing the website using SEO tools and created user-friendly sales pages for the company’s e-commerce site. Besides working on improving the company, I also participated in the daily operations, like scheduling emails, social media posts, push notifications, etc. Besides the technical skills, I also learned to manage my time efficiently because I had to meet deadlines for the daily operations, while also working on longer projects like creating a sales page. This taught me how to prioritize when working on several tasks at the same time. I also had to learn to multitask, and I usually found myself working on two tasks side by side. I believe these were my greatest takeaway from the internship as I would be using these abilities in various stages of my life. The internship was a great experience. Working alongside the President and DirectorofSalesof the company allowed me to get a glimpse of the several aspects that mold together to operate an “online” business. The work was divided among the three of us and we even bounced off ideas to improve the company. I definitely felt that my ideas were heard and executed. Overall, it was an amazing exposure to the vast world of digital marketing. Thank you very much to Mr. Brian Williams (president), Mr. Kevin Roy (Director of Sales), Mr. Roland Morin, Ms. Julia Perry, and Ms. Cassie Haganfor providing me with this opportunity. Check out The Coaching Toolbox website here:https://coachingtoolbox.net
James Schulz ’19 HireEducation – This summer, I took a big leap and left my hometown of Fishers, In to work in Boulder, Colorado. I am an intern at HireEducation, a recruiting firm in the education technology space. My role here as has been in the research and recruiting part of the business. Since coming out here, there are three things that come to mind that have stuck out to me most.
The first is when my expectations don’t quite line up with reality, it’s important to keep an open mind. I came out to Boulder thinking I was going to be doing cold call outreach and assisting with ongoing searches to help find suitable candidates. However, that was not the case. I spent the first five weeks reorganizing an entire office and putting together/taking apart furniture. Many times, I would find myself with copious amounts of downtime, despite asking for more and more things to do. I grew frustrated and felt like my presence in the office was a nuisance. However, I’ve come to realize that I can take this experience, these feelings, and use them to my advantage if ever asked to talk about a work experience that did not as I expected. By keeping an open mind, I was able to flip these feelings of frustration into a valuable learning experience.
The second thing that comes to mind is starting a company is no easy task. In my very first weekend in Colorado, I attended TechStars Start-Up weekend in Denver. People from all over the country came to this event, pitched an idea, and the top pitch ideas spent the rest of the weekend coming up with a business plan to present on Sunday night. I even pitched my own business idea in front of an audience of 100+ people. Even though my idea did not win, I was fortunate enough to work on a team that helped create a mentoring app connecting foster children who are on the verge of aging out of a system to a mentor willing to help with those scary years of entering adulthood. My team members were from Utah, Colorado, Minnesota, Venezuela, California, and Vietnam. Though my team did not win, I learned what the beginning aspects of putting a business together are like and how working with a team from various backgrounds is so great. I also came to understand the amount of excruciatingly tough hours it takes to start a business.
The third thing that comes to mind is stepping out of my comfort zone has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. Committing to come out to Boulder was a first for many things. It was my first time living in a different state for an extended period of time. It was my first time ever being in Colorado. It was my first time living on my own, in my own place. It was my very first experience with sales and a recruiting. All of these aspects were brand new to me, but the best things have come of them. I have developed relationships that I will keep for a lifetime. I have gone on adventures in one of the most beautiful states in the country. I have found a career field that I have considered before, but now can picture myself pursuing post-graduation.
Despite the challenges I have faced this summer, the rewards completely outweigh them all. My time in Boulder will be an experience I can talk about for a lifetime, and it would not be possible without Wabash. The “Wabash Always Fights” mentality never left the back of my mind and has proven to be successful once again. Thank you to HireEducation, my family, and Wabash.
Waleed Elrefai ‘20 Nantucket Bike Tours – Going into the summer, I had the difficult decision of deciding between spending the summer with Jason and Courtney at Nantucket Bike Tours or spending the summer in D.C. with a political internship. Ultimately what swayed me to accept the position with NBT was the fact that I believed that I would learn skills here that would transfer to any avenue that I decided to pursue. At this point, I can safely say that I was right in that decision and I have no regrets. Since coming here, Marcus Torres and I have undergone round the clock leadership, awareness, emotional intelligence, and small business training while having had the opportunity to practice all that we’ve learned in professional and social settings. I am very thankful to Jason (’98) and Courtney Bridges, the owners of Nantucket Bike Tours, for giving us time in their already very busy lives to help develop us as well as the SBIF for making this possible.
Over the last several weeks I’ve developed a much better understanding of how awareness and emotional intelligence factor into both leadership and giving a great bike tour. From the moment people arrive it is your responsibility as the guide to set the mood. It’s important that everyone is comfortable and that you can demonstrate that you are both trustworthy and welcoming while still making it known that you are the leader of the group. Striking that balance helps you assure that people will work with you to stay safe but also have a great time. Of course, that translates very naturally to any professional setting where it’s important for a leader to be able to project both warmth and competence to get a team to trust and work with you. While you’re on the bike there are countless things to take in such as the traffic conditions, clients’ interests, heat, the skill of riders, and body language. Every day we work on observing and processing all that is going on around us so we can improve our awareness in every situation, there are countless applications of this in daily life. We’ve already used our new awareness skills at social situations town meetings and volunteering events. Being able to know what’s going on around you is such a vitally important leadership skill that I’m very fortunate to have been able to work on this summer.
Many of the things I’ve learned this summer would have been much more difficult to practice outside of a small business setting. I think that more than anything that I’ve learned the most this summer is the value of taking initiative. In school and at previous jobs growing up I had no problem being a good student or employee and doing as I was told. In a small business, there isn’t a big hierarchy above your head that sends orders down. It’s up to the small team to have good foresight and plan ahead to tackle problems before they come up. Working in a small company gives you the opportunity to wear many hats such as sales, marketing, tour guide, customer relations manager, and bike mechanic. More than anything else I’ve learned to embrace the umbrella of responsibility and look ahead at what needs to be done without having someone tell me directly.
To close, I’d like to reiterate my sincere thanks to Jason, Courtney, and all the people who make the SBIF possible. I’ve learned so much more about how to be a leader in business and life, and I couldn’t be more appreciative of everyone who has helped me along the way.
Marcus Torres ’20 Nantucket Bike Tours – Six weeks ago, I disembarked the Hy-line speed ferry having finally arrived to the island of Nantucket. After grabbing my bags from the ferry, I made my way down the dock to find Jason Bridges ’98 and Waleed (Weedy) Elrefai ’20 patiently waiting for my arrival. What’s the first thing Jason ’98 says?: “Look around and take in everything you’re seeing because these next 10 weeks are going to fly by.” As I sit here at the Handlebar café six weeks later while writing this blog I realize he couldn’t have been more right.
As I sought out internship opportunities this past spring semester, I knew I wanted to gain experience that would be applicable and beneficial to all aspects of my life, both personal and professional. I wanted an experience that would mold me into the leader I hope to be. Interning at Nantucket Bike Tours (NBT) has done just that. This internship has been far from typical. As for all internships, if one hopes to gain any kind of experience they must “buy in.” However, this “buy in” is amped up to the next level here at Nantucket Bike Tours. Both Jason ’98 and Courtney Bridges expect the most from Waleed ’20 and I, and not only do they have high expectations, but they devote all of their time to helping us exceed these expectations. For that alone, I have been super thankful.
What is it like interning for Nantucket Bike Tours? We like to refer to this internship as “awareness boot camp.” From the moment we wake up (5:30am-6) to the moment we go to bed (10pm), our social awareness must always be “on” and our leadership must set in. Whether we’re walking down the sidewalk, eating breakfast at the Bridges’ home, or giving a tour to a 15-person group, we must be willing to engage others, smile and keep a friendly and genuine persona. The bike tours serve as a vehicle that allow us to improve upon our emotional intelligence, people skills and small business acumen. Each and every day we engage in new conversation, meet and connect with new people, and become interested in others. It’s easier said than done. This brings me to the first and most valuable lesson I’ve learned up to this point: the power, value, and importance of people and relationships. As humans, we naturally seek interactions with others, however, more often than not, we tend not to engage others. After only six weeks of this internship, I sit back now and think, “how could I have been so stubborn as to not connect with and see the value in people like I do now?” There were definitely missed opportunities in the past, but thankfully, there will be tons more in the future.
What’s a typical day like in the life of NBT interns?: tour preparation in the morning (bike logistics, calling customers, etc.), engaging customers at the Handlebar café while drinking a morning coffee, analyzing the body language of group members on a tour in order to adapt to their interests and debriefing about the day’s victories and challenges with Jason and Courtney at dinner. This occurs 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. As I mentioned earlier, we’re always “on.”
Prior to embarking on this Nantucket journey, I had also hoped to become more confident in social and larger group settings. After six weeks of giving tours to 15+ people, attending community fundraisers and engaging in other activities which require public speaking involvement on my part, this goal of mine has become attainable. There is still a ton of work to be done, but with people like Jason and Courtney who care about our personal development and think so highly of us, it will be much easier getting to where I want to be. With hopes of working in the International Business field, this internship has provided me with the foundational knowledge of what it is like to run and manage a business; from sales to marketing to customer service, this business knowledge of mine is all coming into fruition.
Luke Podgorny ‘20 enFocus – I want to thank enFocus for having me as an intern and the Wabash College Career Services for helping me find an opportunity that will give me a quality professional experience while expanding my skill set that will set me up to find a career post-Wabash College.
enFocus is a non-profit innovation organization located in South Bend, Indiana. enFocus offers 1-year fellowships and internships focused on attracting and retaining young talent in and around the South Bend and Elkhart regions. I have had the opportunity this summer to work with 14 other interns entering their junior and senior years of undergrad, and also many fellows the company has to offer. At enFocus I have had the opportunity to work with 2 different project sponsors, one being my 70% project (primary project), and the other being my 30% project (secondary project). The 70%/30% project model is the same used by Google.
The sponsors for my primary project are the ECCVB (Elkhart County Convention and Visitors Bureau) and Vibrant Communities, a local group of about forty community leaders who have developed an action agenda to make Elkhart County a place you want to work, live, and play. During my primary project, I have spent eight weeks prepping for, and creating a Public Asset Map for Elkhart County focused on highlighting cultural and local assets to highlight activities and attractions that could be useful for residents and visitors alike. During this time, I have been working with a full-time fellow named Will and we have both been working together with the project sponsor to assure the product is what they want. Along with this project, we have had to do community engagement in order to receive feedback on our map. The two events we have had include an engagement breakfast with the Vibrant Communities Steering Committee and also a booth at the Elkhart Art Walk.
My secondary project is sponsored by the Economic Development Corporation of Elkhart County. We are focused on the 10,000-job labor shortage within Elkhart County. My primary duties on this project have been analyzing data from Employee Laborshed Surveys and also Employer Needs Analysis that were completed by fellows before my internship started. From the data, we decided to focus on local transportation and childcare specifically and then proceeded to do follow up interviews with specific employers based on their survey responses.
I have learned many valuable skills from my internship this summer. enFocus has provided work experience that involves a lot of self-guidance and freedom to complete your work. I have learned the communication skills needed to work as a team setting when in person contact is not always available due to sponsor meetings and other work-related activities. I have also worked on my public speaking skills having bi-weekly project presentations and updates to our whole enFocus team.
Again, I would like to thank enFocus for providing me with an internship that would allow me to expand my skill set while improving my public speaking and team working skills.
Maximilian Cobos ’21 IUPUI – REI Mechanical Engineering – Throughout this 21’st century, technology has become more effective, efficient, and electrical based. With scientists trying to turn away from the use of fossil fuels, the need for batteries or rather, rechargeable batteries, has never been stronger. While making efficient, small, high energy rechargeable batteries is a large task in and of itself, making a flexible rechargeable battery with the same specifications is a whole other feat. A flexible rechargeable battery with a small size and high energy density would enable scientists and engineers more freedom to fabricate devices where the batteries position could be manipulated. The uses of a flexible battery could range all the way from watches to medical equipment and prosthetics.
However, efforts for making these flexible lithium-ion batteries have had little progress as recent designs tended to use conventional electrodes which are not flexible and in turn, ruin the battery after only bending a small number of times. Therefore, a significant role in developing a flexible battery is fabricating one in which the electrodes are flexible. For these past 4 weeks, I have been conducting research at IUPUI with Ph.D. student Nojan Aliahmad as well as graduate student Amirhossein Ahmadian to develop high-capacity flexible electrodes for a half-cell battery that can then be used when developing their flexible and rechargeable lithium-ion battery.
During my time here, I have assisted in making an electrode, the cathode in this case, of a half cell battery by producing a V2O5/GO solution. The vanadium pentoxide (V2O5), when mixed with graphene oxide (GO), exhibits favorable properties that enable us to use it to make our flexible electrodes. When the V205/GO solution is prepared, we electrospin the solution and due to Coulomb’s law, the magnetic field generated causes the solution to be sprayed into extremely thin circular layers. These layers are composed of conductive nanofibers and can, after they are baked, be added to CNT paper-based current collectors to develop the electrode.
As my research experience continues, we hope to finish and develop the half-cell flexible lithium-ion batteries and if time permits, possibly even a full cell battery. This summer research experience has not only been informational and educational, but also quite fun. I enjoy being in the lab and I look forward to completing my research here for the rest of these next few weeks.
Sovann Kho ’19 Active International – This summer I am working as a finance Intern at a corporate trade company called Active International. I find this internship to be very useful because I get a chance to tap into the finance field, learn how a cooperage company works, and help Active “rebrand” their business. At my spare time, I also volunteer as Active representative at certain concert, to get a free concert ticket.
At Active, I learn what I need to learn to be successful in a finance career. There are many sections in a finance department, and currently I am working in the account payable. I understand how money flow between active and their clients by monitoring invoices and statements in an account payable system. Along the way, I discover that I want to dig deeper into the investment side of a company. Therefore, I would to learn more about the financial market.
In addition, I also learn how a corporate company generates profit from the media. It is probably the most exciting part of my internship. I love entertaining industry and learning how to generate profit from the media is very fascinating to me. For instance, each week I got presentations from leaders such as CEO or executive leaders about Active business. I learn that Active is more than just a barter company. Active would buy the excess product from clients and create profit in a complex model using media credit. In short, Active sell media such as BBC, NBC, and local radio and TV for clients to advertise their business. This experience became one of the most exciting parts of my internship experience.
I also learn how to collaborate with teams, how to market a product, and present ideas in a professional setting by helping “rebranding” Active International. For instance, I am working with several other interns to present company new taglines, website, and come up with new potential customers that might be interested with Active to Active’s leaders. Working with other interns teach me how to work in a team, allows me to apply some of my marketing skills I learned from Wabash college to create a new brand for Active, and learn how to present myself in a professional meeting. Although interns struggle to come up with new branding image for Active, I found it to be a very rewarding experience.
Finally, at my spare time I volunteer as a representative of Active International. For instance, I represent Active at a concert event that Active sponsored. I find it to be fun because I am able to get free concert tickets. I also learn how to represent Active by talking to new people about what Active does. through this volunteering program, I am able to enrich my communication skills.
I learn a lot from Active international. Beside my focus on finance, I also get a chance to learn how a media company works, learn about branding, working in a team, and be a preventative of others. Thank you, Wabash, and Active international for these enriching experiences.
Ian Ward ’19 Crawfordsville Mayor’s Office– Over the past ten weeks working at the Crawfordsville Mayor’s Office, I have both expanded my understanding of local government, but also have been able to see hands on ways in which government is making quality of life better in Indiana.
To begin with the understanding of government, this experience has allowed me to see, first hand that local government is the heartbeat of local issues, and no matter what the issue, local government is the first place of contact for citizens whether or not that is the correct place to contact or not. Also, I have seen that local government can do the most good in the effect that sometimes we as citizens of a state need a place to hear our concerns as well as have someone in our corner to fix some of the small issues that we face everyday. From attending meeting on economic development and project update meeting regarding the Crawfordsville’s Fusion 54, it is clear that Crawfordsville is on the move, but also is looking into the future.
Another aspect of my internship was one of research and looking to others on how to make Crawfordsville not only more knowledgeable of its past such as locating vacated alleyways in the City of Crawfordsville, but also researching how a groundbreaking space such as the Fusion 54 Co-Working Studio should function on a day-to-day basis. In this research I was able to create sponsorship documentation as well as policy for usage in the new space. This space showcases the fact that although local government governs first, in a new generation government’s job is also to lead a community through new, innovative ways not just simply legislating the normal day, today activities.
Therefore, through this process, I have learned multiple new skills and also had the opportunity to see what local government really does on a day-to-day basis, and am thankful for the opportunity that I have had this summer!
Zach Hogan ’21 LABB Intern– The final week of the LABB (Liberal Arts Bridges to Business) internship was all about showcasing the skills that we developed and the projects that we worked on. Literally. Tuesday, we had our final business pitches for app ideas we developed, and Thursday we presented our consulting projects and recommendations for the college. However, while I prepped, practiced, and presented during this final week, I couldn’t help but gain a reaffirmation in the strength of the Wabash community.
On Tuesday morning we travelled to Indianapolis. It was there that we convened at one of Salesforce’s office buildings, arranged by alum Jake Koeneman Class of 2006, to give our app pitches. We presented to a group of alumni and salesforce employees, who each acted as potential investors, with $50,000 of hypothetical capital that they could choose to invest, or not invest, in the five groups that were presenting. The group that received the most investment would win. The setting was tense, but after undergoing the process of coming up with an app idea, diving into researching how the app would work and actually become a product, and doing mock pitches, we were ready. One of the coolest parts of the experience for me was at the end of the presentation. After my group showcased our slides, we opened up to the investors for questions. It was then that Jake Koeneman said that if we actually planned on starting up our app in the Indianapolis area, that he had a contact who had experience in our app’s field of business that could help us learn and better understand the industry. Jake not only held belief in our team and idea, but he was readily willing to help us.
On Thursday we presented our campus consulting projects. With the help of Wayne Bewley Class of 1985, over the course of several weeks we analyzed processes on campus to make them more LEAN using A3 Thinking. The presentation was attended by members of the Wabash community ranging from the marketing department to the Deans of the College. Similar to the app pitch, the presentations ended with questions being addressed. My group consulted campus parking, and there was a long list of questions. However, while there were many questions, most of them were clarifications on our solution and specific data points. There was still an air of respect, a striving for understanding, and an overarching trust that the attendants— the Wabash community—held in our solution. I think it says something that Wabash College trusts students who haven’t even began their second year to evaluate something as integral as campus parking, and to take that evaluation seriously.
In reflecting on the last week and the overall LABB internship, I learned so much about business and all of its different facets. I believe the LABB program has shown us participants that becoming an entrepreneur takes hard work, but it isn’t as impossible or intimidating as it may seem. I would also like to say that I gained a greater view of what Wabash is willing to do for me, and what can be expected for the future. So, thank you to Roland Morin, the CIBE, Jake and Wayne and all of the other alums who helped, and the overall Wabash community for willing to volunteer time, experience, and go the extra mile for Wabash men.
Darian Phillips ‘20 LABB Intern– As a part of Wabash’s intensive 7-week LABB program, a group of 22 interns, including myself, were provided with the opportunity to serve as consultants for the college. Each intern was placed into one of five groups and was presented with an issue concerning the college, such as: parking, independent housing sign-ups, reporting dashboards, student senate inventory, and open shift sign ups.
After being placed into groups, we quickly began to breakdown and evaluate our given issue by implementing a structured problem-solving technique known as A3 thinking. A3 thinking is an industry-leading program that provides individuals, companies, and educators with a comprehensive and effective roadmap for professional and workforce development. Moreover, the A3 thinking technique provided us with a simple, strict, and systemic template to organize our thoughts and ultimately develop solutions in an efficient and effective manner. Throughout this process, we were blessed to have Wayne Bewley, class of ’85, as our A3 thinking guru/mentor. Wayne stood alongside each group, helped guide them in the right direction, and made sure we were executing each step in the A3 process properly. Moreover, Wayne provided us with valuable business skills, informed us that we should never skip a step in any given process, and showed us that rough data is better than no data at all.
The final week of the program, each group presented a comprehensive breakdown of their solution to faculty, staff, and those concerned with college. Unfortunately, we were not informed whether the college will further pursue our suggestions, but I am eager to see if this year’s LABB program can have a lasting impact on Wabash. I would like to end with one final thank you to Roland Morin, Alejandro Reyna, and Wayne Bewley for being exceptional mentors throughout this summer, this is truly an experience that I will value throughout my professional career.