In the summer of 2019, I got to intern for Mike Simmons, a Wabash grad and the CEO of Bridge Builder Strategies. It was my first summer internship and it gave me my first look at what working in office every day for a small consulting firm is like. In the summer of 2020,I was lucky enough to intern for Bridge Builder Strategies again but this time around it was much different.
Mitchell Beard ’20 —When you approach many College Seniors and ask them what they did over the summer, you are sure to get a variety of different answers. “I went to the beach with my friends.” “Read a few great books.” “Went on a family vacation.” And while I could give all of those answers, what stands out for me is my 2019 summer internship working as a marketer and business analyst with Safe Hiring Solutions, made possible by Wabash College and the Mellon Grant.
The first few days of work were boring, to say the least. The Director of Marketing, Claudi Hurt, gave me my first few assignments, all in research. She told me “this is one of the most import
ant jobs we do here. For us to fulfill our commitment to security, we must first understand the needs of our clients and who they are before we can do much of anything else.” At the time I was kind of disappointed, but then by the end of my internship, I realized how right she was.
After gaining a grasp of the importance of security, the current market we are in, and the needs of our customers, I started to do web development. This was a struggle for me at first since the last time I had done any website coding was in high school with outdated methods. However, I quickly picked it up and within a few weeks of my internship recreated all three of their company pages to a platform that was aesthetically pleasing, easy to navigate, and functional on a mobile device. After completing this project, Mike McCarty, CEO & Founder & Wabash Alum, recognized my talent in creating marketing material and shifted me to my next project, managing social media.
My initial thoughts, this is going to be easy. I do my social media, how much different could it be? Within the first post or two, I realized something important. These posts are in some ways representing everyone in the company, but I’m the one speaking. Do I sound like them or me? After asking myself this question, I moved to the next, who am I speaking to? Then I realized something. I already had the answer to both questions after doing all that research at the beginning of my internship, and after shaking my head for a few moments after realizing how right Claudia was, I continued my work.
Finally, this summer I had the chance to collaborate with Eric Stauffer, VP of Technology & Wabash Alum. We worked on a variety of tech projects together such as moving older server files, updating a chat box, and working on developing new software.
As I reflect on my summer internship, I’m thankful for the opportunity. I have been able to grow both professionally and personally. I look forward to my senior year continuing my work with Safe Hiring Solutions as a Sr. Innovation Consultant with the Center for Innovation Business and Entrepreneurship.
Ben Filippi ’21 — I want to thank the small business internship fund for making my internship with Bridge Builder Strategies possible this summer. Without the generous alumni donations that make up these funds, Wabash men (myself included) would be much less prepared for life after graduation. I spent my summer working with Mike Simmons, the CEO who graduated from Wabash, Max Kurkowski, a current Wabash student, Jeff Shields, the Vice President, and Clayton Lewis who will be a sophomore at Huntington University. I learned something different from each person and how the team of five interacted.
I learned several things from Mike. The first thing was how to apply my liberal arts education to the business world. It was the main goal I wanted to achieve with my first internship and Mike continues to help me find new ways to apply what I have learned from Wabash, especially as a rhetoric major, to consulting. From creating content for marketing to interacting with the powerful network in the healthcare industry, I realized how important the right messaging is. I also learned how important every day is in a small business. Mike spent way more than 40 hours a week working, but it was because he believed in what he was doing and the future success of the company. Like most college-aged students, I wasn’t thrilled when my alarm went off before 7:00 in the morning but I genuinely loved going to work every single day, and I can’t wait for my future work opportunities with Mike through the CIBE, another opportunity made possible by Wabash alumni donations. I learned from Max how to carry yourself as a college student doing such important work. He never carried himself as an intern, but instead, like an experienced employee. That mindset of not thinking like an intern in college but instead a meaningful employee gave me the confidence to work on such important projects. Jeff taught me the importance of having diversity in the workplace. Jeff was a former teacher and would always preach having the younger guys share their thoughts on everything because we had a different perspective. Just like Mike had a different perspective with his marketing background from Jeff’s teaching background. Clayton taught me the importance of communicating your struggles with those around you. Just like at Wabash, when we are encouraged to seek help from our resources. Clayton and I both struggled with time management and by him opening up about that we both worked to hold each other more accountable.
By the end of the summer not only had I learned way more than I could ever capture in 500 words, but I also found a job that I love doing, and I cannot thank the small business internship fund enough for that.
Nick Winter ’21 — This past summer, I have had the opportunity to test my liberal arts education in the world of sales. No, there is not a sales 101 on the Wabash curriculum. My Rhetoric Major, as well as a wide breadth of courses from Biology-101 to Accounting-202, helped me adapt and become successful in my internship this summer. It is a true testament to the fact that Wabash gives you the essential formula to understand and learn new topics on the fly.
Financial technology or fintech was not a subject that I had a deep understanding in un
til this summer. I went through the interview process and was hired as a Market Development Associate for Adorant Group in Chicago. Adorant Group is a fintech company that has developed a platform called MyMoneyRoadmap. This platform was created to help financial advisors prospect, interact, manage, and plan for their clients on a whole new level. The platform makes it streamline and easy for a CFP to manage and navigate their books of business.
One of the first tasks I had to do was take a crash course to learn the platform. This seemed like an endless task at first; however, members of the team were able to get me up to speed and make the transition as easy as possible. After learning the essentials of the platform, I was able to practice cold calls and demo scripts with senior sales members of the team. It was important to focus on language selection, tone, and substance to create a successful phone call.
The sales coaches were able to help me “ask important questions.” By asking important questions, I was able to learn more and more about the pain that each advisor had. This allowed me to learn about the needs of their practice and how our software may be a good fit. This was truly a once in a lifetime experience. I took coaching head on every day. Members of the Adorant team were more than a pleasure to work with. The challenges that I faced during my experience did not seem daunting because of the great team I had around me 24/7. I am very grateful to receive this paid internship from the Small Business Internship Fund. I am looking forward to using the skills I have learned this upcoming semester at Wabash.
Jack Davidson ’21 — This summer, I spent my time as an intern at Connecta Corporation in Indianapolis, Indiana. Connecta specializes in crafting small, precision parts. Throughout my eight-week internship at Connecta, I worked specifically in the business department, specializing mainly in logistics. I was tasked with processing shipping and receiving, along with analyzing inventory in order to predict future purchase orders. When working in shipping and receiving, I had to locate parts and make sure they were being shipped on time and to the correct location. Once the parts were located, I would process the shipment on the online system. Also, I worked with clients to ensure we were receiving parts on time in order to keep our production runs on schedule. Additionally, I worked frequently with Rockwell Collins, one of Connecta’s top customers. Throughout my work with Rockwell Collins, I analyzed future shipment quantities in order to assist in bringing shipments back on schedule. Along with this, I downloaded Collins’ shipment spreadsheets, which outlined shipments from June to the following year, and analyzed whether or not we had stock or needed a production run on specific part numbers. This work was instrumental in improving the relationship with Rockwell Collins, as it improved on-time shipments and correct quantities. Furthermore, I helped create and update an Excel spreadsheet which helped locate part numbers and ensure deliveries were being made on time to our different customers. In my opinion, this was one of the most influential things I did while at Connecta. Essentially, the excel spreadsheet outlined our shipping schedule to our various customers. This allowed each of our future shipments to be located in one place, leading to improved organization and on-time shipments. Further, the spreadsheet also allowed us to track where parts were in the production process. So when customers asked where a specific part number was, we were easily able to relay that information.
Overall, my eight-week internship at Connecta Corporation provided me a great opportunity. I believe this helped me grow significantly as an employee in the workplace. I acquired various new skills and sharpened other skills that will greatly help me in the future. I would like to thank Wabash alum Alan Pyle for giving me the opportunity to intern at Connecta. Additionally, I want to thank the Small Business Internship Fund at Wabash for funding this internship. Without the help of the Small Business Internship Fund, this life-changing experience would not have been possible!
Tyler Ramsey ’21 — As my sophomore year neared its end, I had little time to find a summer internship that would make or break my next two years at Wabash. I knew I had a passion for computers, and I was dedicated to taking the IT route, I just could not find the right fit. As time ticked, I encountered Shane Fimbel, CEO of Trek10, located in South Bend, Indiana. Dr. Fimbel offered a summer intern position at Trek10, and it would not have been possible without the generosity of the Small Business Internship Fund and the CIBE for helping me secure it. The experience I had at Trek10 was nothing but life-changing.
The opportunity to work for Trek10 not only allowed me to expand my knowledge within the tech field but also gave me a route to take for my next two years at Wabash. I have a couple of experiences I would like to share from my summer internship with Trek10. The first experience I would like to share is obtaining my AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner certification. On the first day of my internship, Dr. Fimbel explained the significance of technical expertise of the cloud, since Trek10 is a company that is solely focused on cloud computing. Trek10 gave me every resource possible in order to feel comfortable and confident with Amazon Web Service tools and its features. As an AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner, I have a general knowledge of AWS tools and resources in addition to a strong understanding of different pricing models for a client who is looking to switch their company over to AWS. I believe that this certification opened more doors for me in the upcoming year or two as I finish my time here at Wabash.
Although I’ve had much more experience with the tech side of things, I also had the opportunity to gain experience in the research and development side. I was tasked with finishing an ongoing research paper that Trek10 plans on publishing in the near future. I created a digital database that pulled in a select few of researchers who produced papers about serverless computing. The database I gathered not only allowed me to produce various graphs, but it also allowed me to construct the relationships between the researchers in the database. In order to connect the authors through their work, I used a network analysis tool software called Gephi that produced a large visual representation of the connections. The graph takes a lot of trial and error, but once I applied the ideal filters for our results, I was able to show how connected each author was and whether or not they were put in a certain group (community). The research paper was a great learning experience because it gave me exposure to conducting proper research and how to write a research paper properly.
All of this would not have been possible if it weren’t for the CIBE for helping me secure my internship and the Small Business Internship Fund for funding my summer internship.
Brent Strahla ’21 — I would like to preface this blog by thanking the donors of the Small Business Internship Fund. Without it, I might have spent another melancholic summer in Indiana working my high school job(s).
To get to the meat of my experience, have you ever ridden on public transportation
? For the first time this summer, I was a consistent rider of the Washington Metro.
I think the blog can end there.
If you have ever been a consistent rider of public transit, we could most likely classify you as someone who has “Seen It All.” There seemed to be confusion as to whether the Metrobus was a bedroom, bathroom, or bus. Residents of the DMV area might mistake it as any of those. By the end of my Internship, I started to understand why they understood the Metro in this way. It’s a gruesome commute in one of the most humid places in the USA. It’s economical to use the bus as a bed, bath, and transportation option…
After about 90 minutes of commuting one-way, I came to the place where I spent more hours than most can probably say, the “Office.” The calm before the storm was between the time of 7AM-9AM. Our office had a 9:30 AM start time. This meant if I got to work early enough, I could squeeze out a cup of tea before the storm came.
Most workdays were the same, non-stop preparation, analysis, research, and business development until noon. At noon, you had about 5-10 minutes of lunch preparation followed by eating your lunch and hopping back into the warm impression in your chair. I took every opportunity I could to call someone on the phone. This meant that I could stand up and stretch while also getting work done.
After the workday ended around 5:30 PM (some days until 7:00 PM), I was able to go to our office gym and get a quick workout in until I need to catch the bus for another 60-90 minute commute home at 7:18 PM. This left just enough time to cook dinner and go to bed—just enough excitement in one day to make me want to wake up for the next.
I’ve learned an unsurmountable amount about the Recruiting & Staffing industry. Careers seem to be more about connections than anything. I also can format and write a mean-looking resume now.
In reflection, I think a large part of the learning and growing process is discovering what you don’t like and don’t want to do. That being said, I think that executive search is not necessarily where I want to start my career. Nevertheless, I would like to thank Stanton Chase for an incredible summer of growth and discovery.
Lukios Stefan ’21 — Stanton Chase ranks among the top executive search firms in the world and consistently places C-suite level executives at global corporations and firms. The Stanton Chase team in Washington D.C. excels in offering recruiting services across various sectors and promises both expediency and excellence in presenting qualified, interested, and prepared candidates to their clients. Mr. Jeffrey
Perkins, the Wabash alumnus at Stanton Chase, serves as the managing director of the team in D.C. This summer, he graciously selected me as one of two interns to participate in the rigorous gauntlet of corporate recruiting.
As a research associate intern, Jeff and the director, Charles, entrusted me with various responsibilities for their thirteen active accounts. Executive recruiting follows a diligent process of sourcing, screening, and presenting candidates. First, the client outlines the general criteria for the role. The Stanton Chase team follows with a drafted job specification which clearly delineates the responsibilities and expectations of the position. Next, applicants are located through market intelligence resources and screened by the leaders of the account, who then compile slates of candidates for the clients to review. Formal interviews then proceed to evaluate their strength and viability for an offer. At each step, the Stanton Chase team overcomes a diversity of internal obstacles while mediating concerns from both the client and candidates.
In addition to the research associate position, I served briefly as the interim executive assistant for Mr. Perkins. The initial occupation of the role was daunting and constantly challenged my ability to efficiently manage unfamiliar responsibilities. The most important task for the executive assistant was scheduling for Mr. Perkins and the DC office. Clients and candidates consistently requested time and resources from our team and trusted me to handle their business with confidentiality and care. Despite the challenges of the position, tracing and documenting the progress of each search offered a visible reward for my work.
Overall, the experience at Stanton Chase accentuated two essential skills for success. First, the ability to communicate with clarity and brevity eliminates confusion. Details define the perception of your work, and the omission of it damages your reputation and credibility. Second, the desire to learn unlocks opportunities. Passion thrills employers and they will readily entrust curious workers with responsibility. In conclusion, executive recruiting at Stanton Chase taught both a professional trade and the skills for navigating life. I am grateful for both the Small Business Internship and Mr. Jeff Perkins for enriching my personal and professional development beyond the classroom experience.
Colten Garland ’20 — This summer, I had the opportunity to work with Joe Johnson ’11 and his company Obvious Shirts. Based in Chicago, it is a small t-shirt business that makes witty Chicago Cubs-themed t-shirts. I’m very thankful to the CIBE and the Small Business Internship Fund for allowing me to spend my summer here in Chicago working with Joe and gaining this valuable experience. Through my daily responsibilities and discussions with Joe, I’ve gained much more knowledge about what it takes to run a small business successfully.
The majority of my responsibilities are centered around operating the online store. The company is growing quickly, and we have pretty steady traffic on the site every day, so I’m responsible for keeping track of our orders, inventory, and other online-related issues, including making sure any problems are dealt with. I’ve also been able to sit in on meetings with owners of nearby retail stores that sell our shirts as well, and other businesses in the area that interact with Obvious Shirts regularly. During these meetings, we negotiate new orders, discuss where we want the partnership to go in the future, and other similar important business matters. These meetings are nice for me to sit in on because I can gain first-hand experience of the deal-making process and I get to see many of the moving parts that go on behind the scenes in small business operations.
I came to the company at an exciting time. Obvious Shirts is in the process of expanding our reach and our audience. Rather than strictly focusing on Chicago sports, as of late June, we have shirts in several MLB stadiums, and that number is growing. We have been in contact with other major sports teams about potentially selling shirts in more team stores. It’s been exciting for me to witness the growth of the company and help move it forward in the process. Once again, thank you to the CIBE and the Small Business Internship Fund for affording me this opportunity with Obvious Shirts. It’s been an extremely valuable experience, and I’m very thankful for the opportunity Joe, the CIBE, and the SBIF has provided me.
Michael Zubeck ’21 – Sales and Marketing Intern, The Headshot Truck
My first weeks on the west coast were a completely new experience, to say the least. When agreeing to my internship in Los Angeles this summer my boss, Brian, told me that this was my internship and I would only get out of it what was put in. To make sure that I would get the most out of the internship, I tried to do any and every task that was available, even if was not mine.
On my third day there was a photoshoot in the office and instead of doing normal work I was the photographer’s assistant, which gave me a new perspective of how the other side of the business was ran. This helped me better understand the logistics of a shoot later when I would talk to prospective clients about how the shoot functions. Besides the photoshoot, my work was normally consistent, with my first task being to gather and then contact property managers throughout Southern California. To do this I began by researching the different firms and before long there was a list of close to 500 potential clients. Having the experience of cold calling before had helped me, but this was still not one of my strengths. Noticing this Brian decided to have me switch my focus from targeting new clients to client retention. To do this I began by researching the different ways that this is done. After talking with him we decided that my new task would be to build a software that he could use to more effectively manage his clients. This software is known as customer relationship management (CRM), would allow The Headshot Truck to communicate with customers, record information, send and receive quotes and contracts, and accept invoices all on one platform.
The benefits of having a CRM are organization and convenience, and this translates to hours that are saved from the workday. Unfortunately working with the software from the very beginning was similar to looking at puzzle pieces without the final picture. Drawing from different tasks that I had previously done, I was able to start assembling this puzzle. Before long, it was up and functioning and it was even running. This experience had made the largest impact on me. This process allowed me to see and understand the learning curve and how learning one thing, such as a photography assistant, can help with another later, like building a CRM. This experience reinforces the importance of being involved and doing as many tasks as possible. I am very thankful to the Small Business Internship Fund for providing me with this opportunity.