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Williams ’20 Extraordinary Opportunity to Lead in the Workplace

James Williams ’20 Property Manager at B.E Property Management – I would first like to thank Wabash College for the numerous opportunities placed upon me to excel and grow as a person. Being a member of the 2016 WLAIP program allowed me to choose a fully paid internship for the 2017 summer of my choice. An extraordinary opportunity, I pondered where I should partake my internship at. Being from South Bend, IN I had made networking connection that lead me to secure a potion as a Property Manager over Irish Crossings of Notre Dame through B.E. Property Management.

When asked if I was interested in this position, I felt that it did not fit my personality, and was unsure of what skills I would be able to build. However, after speaking and meeting with Lisa Brunner, the owner of B.E. Property management, she quickly reassured that I would learn many new skills and this opportunity challenge me and help me grow as an individual.

In the first weeks of my summer internship, I found out Mrs. Brunner was correct in every way possible. After being given the agenda for the week, I thought the next few days would be simple. However, it was not until performing these activities as well as managing 2 crews that I knew that this was going to be much more difficult than I had thought. The most difficult thing I faced was trying to manage two crews comprised of many people with different attitudes and personalities. Managing, teaching, and learning side-by-side with these individuals really helped develop my patience as well as my communication and team building-skills. Being the youngest property manager is most definitely difficult, but with developing my leadership skills at Wabash prior to this experience definitely had an impact on my work, as I feel that I could accomplish that of what older managers do.

My favorite skill that I have encountered thus far would have to be the mastering of a zero-turn Mower. The zero-turn mower is our main mower equipped with a grass striping kit to make the lines in the grass defined and noticeable. By my second week of cutting grass, I was encouraged to cut the grass more often due to my fine lining of the grass.

One thing I have learned thus far, is that it is important to remember people’s preferences when managing their landscape. For example, many older residents like longer grass around four inches long, where younger residents prefer their grass to be around two inches. Typically, we like to meet them right in the middle and keep the grass at 3 inches in order to meet the preferences of both demographics, while keeping the grass looking even. Another thing I have learned is to get to know the people you work with. One of my crew workers prefers to be called by a different name, and by doing this we have been able to develop a relationship and we feel more comfortable with each other. Keeping people’s preferences in mind is important so they know you care about them.

One thing that has really opened my eyes during this internship is seeing peoples burning desire to work. Some of my crew members are faced with difficult situations, such as having no ride to work, or no one to watch their kid, but somehow can always show up on time and be willing to work hard. Seeing their smiling faces even in times of adversity really made me appreciate them and encouraged me to be the best I could be.

I have really enjoyed my time as a property manager because it has given me an opportunity to tackle many different tasks. I have done irrigation systems, lawn care, resident care, and billing/filing. I never had thought being a property manager at Notre Dame would teach me such a diverse set of skills, which have encouraged me to be a better leader, manager, and person.

Again, I would like to thank Wabash College, IU Health, and B.E. Property for this great opportunity to learn, grow, and excel as a person. Thank you!


Marr ’20 Financial Literacy Helps Solidify Business Pitch

Alexander Marr ’20 LABB Intern – First off, I would like to thank the Lilly Endowment and Wabash College for allowing my peers and me to experience the LABB program. It truly is a learning experience as well as a place to gain and build relationships.

This week, we learned from Valerie Griffin about three different financial statements. She walked us through a program that helped us make our own income statements as well as balance sheets based on statistics from different companies. If any of us wish to run our own business, it is essential to be able to successfully write an income statement and balance sheet. We also created business plans for food trucks and presented them to investors, which proved rather nerve-wracking. Later in the week and following into the weekend, we had an opportunity to communicate with Wabash alumni at Big Bash.

On Tuesday, we gave mini pitches of our business plans for food trucks. Intended to be around 7 minutes, each turned out to be about 20 due to constructive criticism as well as questions from investors. Many of us felt unprepared, incapable of being able to answer questions that were presented, which gave us incentive to develop our business plans with greater depth. Further research and new ideas were needed to create a full business plan and a successful pitch. Luckily, we were given until Thursday to regroup and take considerations for our plans. One addition that my team included in our final presentation was a sheet with backgrounds and personalities of all our group members, which gave a basis of who we are and where we come from. Another concept that my group developed further was a budget that focused on the initial costs and each monthly cost, which let our investors envision the start to our business.

On Thursday, we gave our pitches on the full design of our food trucks. Four groups made and presented an entire business plan for investors to hear, who appropriated money to invest according to how well each business plan was. We also saw our peers present their ideas as well, which helps establish standards for these presentations and gives expectations for progress for future business plans and presentations. As nerve-wracking as it was, it was great to hear positive feedback about how much we have progressed as well as hearing that Roland Morin was impressed with our work.

Friday and Saturday gave my peers and I our first opportunity to network since we began the LABB program. I conversed with more than 40 alumni, of which 2 handed business cards to me allowing me to contact them in search for a job in the future. Many of the alumni were very curious about the internship that I have this summer, and the idea seemed to strike all their attentions. I recognized the importance of the key ideas to remember when networking, including a proper handshake, speaking with confidence, and being open minded. Taking the time to focus on being able to effectively network has a greater importance than I had initially thought.

It certainly has been a busy and full week, with many learning experiences in the classroom as well as introducing ourselves in the real-world setting. I can say that I have gained knowledge that makes me better understand the business world. Again, I would like to thank the Lilly Endowment and Wabash College for making this experience possible. I am looking forward to what the next 5 weeks have in store for myself and my peers.


Frank ’19 Kick-Starting Business Career through LABB Program

Evan Frank ’19 LABB Intern – During my first two weeks of the LABB program, I have learned about finance and entrepreneurship, topics that are otherwise unavailable in a traditional liberal arts classroom. However, I am starting to assimilate how the critical thinking and analyzing abilities learned through an inter-disciplinary liberal arts education can be utilized in the world of business and finance. I would like to thank the Lilly Endowment for providing my peers and me this opportunity to kick-start our business careers.

Our focus for the second week centered on finance and the importance thereof. Valerie Griffin, a veteran of the field, coached us to help improve our understanding of finance. Throughout the week, we learned how to analyze financial documents such as income statements, balance sheets, and cash flow statements to make business decisions. The LABB program has exposed me to information in addition to my already diversified academic curriculum to help develop real world skills that I can use after school.

Our predominant task for this week was to deliver business pitches about our food truck idea that each group developed.  We had a lot of fun doing this project.  There were four groups – two with five members and two with four.  The goal was to sell our idea with two pitches to a group of investors that would decide whether they wanted to invest in our idea.  We gave our initial pitches on Tuesday and our final pitches on the following Thursday.  For the first pitch, the groups received 10 minutes to give an idea of what their company would look like.  My group talked about where we would operate, what food we would sell, when we would be open, etc.  We missed a lot of details originally, but we were able to identify some of those shortcomings after the presentation with the help of the investors.  The second pitch was then much more refined.  The groups were given 20 minutes a piece and in addition to the original ideas of the truck, we were able to talk about the finances of the food truck, what food we would sell, who we were competing with, etc.  The second pitches were much more polished as all of the groups could improve from the feedback we were given after the first pitch.  The feedback was especially helpful to develop a better understanding of all of the factors that go into pitching a business idea – in this case, specifically factors such as paying the chef, finding locations, having a licensed place to prepare food before serving. All these along with the financial projections go into establishing a sustainable food truck.  I felt it was also great practice to get in front of both the groups and the investors to sell our ideas.  I am not used to speaking in public, and I understand the importance of this in business and finance fields.  As such, this program is helping me to broaden my avenues.

So far, the LABB program has shown me how to think from a business perspective.  My goal going into the program was to figure out how my education would fit in in the real world of business and finance, and I am very pleased with the progress I have made so far.  I look forward to continuing my growth during the remaining weeks of LABB.


Stults ’20 Experience in First Week of LABB Program has been “Eye-Opening”

Drew Stults ’20 LABB Intern –  When I first met the director of the CIBE, Roland Morin, he immediately recommended that I apply for the LABB summer internship program. At first, I was weary and skeptical, as doing the LABB program would mean that I’d have to spend a summer in Crawfordsville. However, after talking to past participants, I had heard good things about the program and it changed my mind. So, I went ahead and applied, and when I was offered the position, I accepted immediately. I’ve always had a deep founded passion for business, and the LABB program has allowed me to apply not only my pre-existing knowledge, but also to grow and learn more.

This first week has been incredibly eye opening. We talked about what it truly means to be an entrepreneur as well as the steps to take that allow one to become a better leader within the work place. Along with this, Roland taught us how to create a well-drafted business model and how to network properly. Furthermore, we’ve also learned how to build the perfect resume as well as a professional LinkedIn account. As you can see, we’ve had an incredibly busy, yet productive, first week at LABB.

Roland also introduced us to two consulting projects that we will be working on the remainder of the program, which is exciting because we could potentially bring a positive change to student life. We’ve also begun working with teams of 4 or 5 creating a new business model for a food truck. This business plan includes the products that we want to sell, how we plan on selling them, who we want to sell them to, and how much the product will cost. Along with this, we have created a balance sheet that tracks the total cost of the operation. We then will pitch our business model to “investors” who can choose which company they would like to invest in based on each team’s presentation.

Not only is LABB allowing us to apply our new business knowledge to real life situations, but we will also have the opportunity to travel to other businesses across Indiana to see their everyday functions. Along with this, we will get the opportunity to meet other entrepreneurs and network with professionals.

All of this, of course, would not be possible if not for the Lilly Endowment. We are gracious for this opportunity as it paves the way for our future success in our careers. Through the Lilly Endowment, Wabash College is able to give students like myself to understand business operations with real-life experience.

After only 5 days, I can already see myself learning new techniques and strategies and I am excited to see myself and my peers continue to develop over the next six weeks.


Wannemuehler ’20 Learns Valuable Business Skills

Henry Wannemuehler ’20 LABB Intern – I am excited to spend my summer building on skills to fuel my future aspirations of being an entrepreneur. I would like to thank the Lilly Endowment and Wabash College for providing this opportunity to build on these skills through the Liberal Arts Bridges to Business program offered by the Center for Innovation, Business and Entrepreneurship. This internship gives myself and 17 other Wabash men the opportunity to learn business skills that will build valuable skill sets for our careers.

In our first week in the LABB program, we were given the task to give a short one-minute pitch about ourselves based on our Gallup StrengthQuest results. At first, I was a little surprised by the results, but I soon realized how I can use my positivity and communication skills to best project myself as a leader. I also learned that my personality pushes me to exceed expectations, which can help me push others around me to do the same. All of these qualities will help me find a concrete way of leading peers in my future career. The StrengthQuest was useful as it was used to develop “elevator pitches” about who we are and the qualities we possess that characterize our leadership styles. Without the StrengthsQuest, I never would have known the abilities I need to utilize to make everyone around me, as well as myself, better.

While testing our elevator pitches, Roland Morin and Jacob Pactor, constructively critiqued our pitches to help build the best introduction for ourselves. I never realized how much important information I left out about myself when introducing myself to someone new.

This was a great exercise to do before we developed our networking strategy. I thought I was familiar with networking based on my efforts with current and past students, but we examined articles such as “The Science of Networking” by Loren Gary that taught us the four different types of networking, allowing us to choose the best fit for our personality, while also giving some good advice on how to properly network. Fortunately, my ability to think critically helped me realize the best networking strategy that best fits my profile and utilize it in our networking activity.

One thing I have really enjoyed, is that we get to split up into small groups similar to what you would expect in the business world. We make our teams and try to optimize each individual’s strengths to create the best outcome for each project. We currently have been working on a pitch for a Food Truck business in Indiana. It is exciting to have people around you with the same goals, and it creates a competitive culture that we always see here at Wabash. With six weeks left in the program, I’m looking forward to being pushed to the extent of my capabilities while learning important skills along the way; and the LABB program, as well as everyone involved, will do such that.



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