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ZUBECK ’21 EXPRESSES IMPORTANCE OF INVOLVEMENT

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.


Khan ’19 Summer Internship With Louisville Legal Aid Society

Ahad Khan ’19 Louisville Legal Aid Society – As a political science major on the pre-law track, this summer I was fortunate to avail an internship that many consider as the perfect opportunity for students considering a legal profession. I worked at the Legal Aid Society of Louisville as the Jeffrey Been Intern. The internship is named after Mr. Jeffrey Been, former executive director of the Legal Aid Society and a member of Wabash College class of ’81. Now in its eleventh year, the internship has hosted a Wabash student every year since 2007. Since the internship program’s inception, Mr. Been has generously hosted students at his Louisville home, which nestles in the bustling Highlands neighborhood of the city. I was no exception to Mr. Been’s, his partner Eric’s, or their two dogs Gideon’s and Jodi’s generosity, and stayed with them for the entire seven-week duration of my internship. Staying with two attorneys while working at the Legal Aid Society for nearly two months reinforced my passion to study the law.

At the Legal Aid Society, I worked closely with the Development and Communications team and assisted several attorneys with their legal work. Legal Aid provides all services at zero cost to its clients; proactive fundraising, thus, forms an integral part of its sustainability. The organization receives annual federal funding to continue its operations and covers the remainder of its expenses from the donations it receives from multiple small to big law firms throughout the Commonwealth of Kentucky. In my capacity, I worked with the Development and Communications director to raise money for the organization. I assisted in writing grant proposals and attended meetings with the law firms to request funding for the numerous needs of the Legal Aid Society. I also identified and sorted active donors from inactive ones, which helped to streamline the fundraising efforts of Legal Aid. That also helped the organization to work efficiently with some of its strongest allies and donors, some of whom donated more than what we requested them. Such donations not only helped Legal Aid stay far ahead of its quarterly fundraising goal but also allowed the director to secure funding for a second annual fundraising event. Working on fundraising projects also enabled me to meet attorneys from the private sector and get a glimpse into their daily work and how it differs from those working in the public sector.

The internship’s most profound impact on me came about when I began working with attorneys in the various departments of Legal Aid. I assisted in several expungement filings for our clients who struggled to find jobs and rent homes even years after remaining clean from their criminal activity, only because they could not afford proper legal counsel. I tracked records of the clients’ history and then determined, per the state’s laws, those who qualified and those who did not for an expungement. I also helped to set up weekly law clinics for our clients to enable them to understand the legal procedures and work independently on filing their cases. These included pro-se (meaning on one’s own behalf) divorce clinics, small claims clinics, domestic violence clinics, and bankruptcy clinics. At the end of each of those clinics, the immense gratitude and appreciation from the clients made me recognize the positive impact of the efforts of our team in the lives of those citizens. Through these experiences, I interacted with the indigent and weak of our society, which led me to realize that one’s financial ability must not be a hindrance in one’s pursuit to seek justice. There remains a staggering disparity between the rich and the poor’s struggle to obtain justice and only through more selfless lawyers and individuals can we overcome this inequality. Legal Aid strives each day to provide services to the disenfranchised; as a lawyer, I hope to do the same for my community one day.

As I conclude my internship, the following verse from the Noble Qur’an resonates more strongly than ever in my mind:

“Verily, Allah (God) enjoins justice, and the doing of good to others; and giving like kindred; and forbids indecency, and manifest evil, and wrongful transgression. He admonished you that you may take heed.” (Qur’an 16:91).


Esterline ’21 Acquires New Skills In Sales And Technology

This summer I had the incredible opportunity to do a paid internship with the Adorant Group. Through the help of the Center for Innovation, Business, and Entrepreneurship (CIBE) I was given the opportunity of first working with the Adorant Group on a Professional Immersion Experience or better known as a PIE trip. On this trip I was soon introduced to Brian Mantel, the Chief Executive Officer of the Adorant Group and an alumnus of Wabash College. Then I was tasked with a variety of different projects for my two-day externship. After this externship ended, I walked away with a multitude of skills and a great alumni connection. Later that spring, Brian Mantel contacted my supervisor and asked if I was available after I concluded the Liberal Arts Bridges to Business program (LABB Program). After my LABB internship concluded I soon started my internship with the Adorant Group. I was interning as a Business Analyst. My role was to design ten sales training modules for young financial advisors. During this internship I also had the opportunity to learn how to use a content management system, create Json files (Java Script files), learned how to use Amazon’s S3 platform, and had the opportunity to see my work go straight into production by the end of my six-week internship. By creating fourteen new Json files and the ten sales training modules I had the opportunity to be immersed in an environment which I had no background or prior experience in. Going forward from this internship I walk away with newly acquired skills in sales and technology. These skills are very valuable in our ever-changing world and economy. I would like to give a special thanks to the Adorant Group, Brian Mantel, the CIBE, and Wabash College for these incredible opportunities. I cannot wait to see what other opportunities are around the corner as I approach my sophomore year.


Wagner ’20 Sees What Wabash Has To Offer Once You Leave Campus

Jack Wagner ’20 Logistics Intern- CTS – This summer, I spent ten weeks of my summer immersed in the field of logistics, working for a freight brokering agency in Phoenix, AZ. The company I worked for, Commodity Transportation Services, functions primarily as a third-party logistics company that helps growers and shippers working in the agricultural industry find trucks to transport their various commodities. We function under the budget allowed to us by each customer for each individual load. Our agency is projected to broker $24 million in freight this year, so it was quite an experience to intern for the company during the climax of the business year. My ten-week internship began with copious amounts of various forms of data entry to help me learn the basics of the company. After becoming comfortable and familiar with our systems and functions, I began to build a few client lists in anticipation for the upcoming seasons’ hotspots. This helped me gain experience making professional phone calls about our business before actually making sales calls. After the first half of my internship drew to an end, I had come to a point where I was allowed to start negotiating my own business with customers. In the second half of the summer, I negotiated well beyond $100,000 of business and was ultimately able to secure and manage over $25,000 of my own freight. This means I was responsible for negotiating a budget with our customers, negotiating with trucks to cover the given loads within this budget, while also operating at or above a 10% profit margin, as well as communicating with drivers daily in order to protect and manage our business. I was able to secure roughly $3,000 in profit for CTS throughout the five weeks I spent brokering my own freight.

This summer, I learned much more than the ins and outs of produce brokering. I learned about a thriving industry that I hadn’t previously given much thought to, formed relationships with some incredible people from very different backgrounds than myself, I witnessed and participated in a living, breathing example of the Wabash Alumni Base and gained an incredible amount of business experience that will transfer to any number of industries I could potentially choose to pursue. It was a formidable, yet very rewarding experience to travel to and live in a part of the country I had never experienced when I was largely on my own. While this summer had a few lonely points, I wouldn’t trade the experiences I had and the relationships I formed for anything. I gained a much deeper appreciation for what Wabash has to offer once you leave campus, and this has truly reinforced my confidence in my decision to pursue the distinction of a Wabash Man.


Roy ’19 Grows Personally And Professionally With Handshake

Duncan Roy ’19 Handshake – This summer I have had the opportunity to intern at Handshake here in San Francisco. Handshake is a tech startup that connects students of all backgrounds with great career opportunities. Going from Crawfordsville to San Francisco has been a huge change, but I’ve loved exploring a city so different than anywhere I’ve been before. At Handshake, I am working with the University Success Team, which is in charge of implementing new schools on the platform and ensuring that career centers and students have all the tools necessary to use Handshake to the fullest.

My main project this summer has been working on a back to school toolkit to empower career centers will all of the tools needed to make sure their students get the most out of the platform and launch meaningful careers after graduation. One of my favorite parts about my project and working at Handshake, in general, is the collaborative nature of the office and projects. I have been working with almost every team on my project from design to product. I have also been presenting my ideas in meetings with the COO, and leaders from multiple teams across the company. One of the most influential things that I have taken from my internship so far is the power of feedback and collaboration. I have had many times where I have come up with a few ideas, then met with people from across the company to talk through my idea and get feedback, while bouncing ideas off of each other.

Being at a tech company, I have learned something new every day just hearing conversations or talking with one of the other interns that are software engineers. It has been great to work in such a fast paced environment and be around be people that are driven to keep pushing the company forward and are truly passionate about what they are doing. Deciding to pack up a suitcase and move out here to a city I had never been to before was a little scary, but luckily the group of 7 other interns have been a lot of fun to get to know and hear their stories. Especially considering we are all from different parts of the country and have different backgrounds it has been cool to get their perspectives on things. It has also been cool getting to know fellow Wabash men Christian Rhodes ‘17 and Alex Amerling ‘14 here at Handshake. In all, this summer has given me a great opportunity to grow as a person and professionally and is helping me decide what route I want to take after graduation. I will forever be thankful for the great opportunity that I have had this summer!


Kurkowski ’20 “There is much more to marketing than what you see”

Maxwell Kurkowski ’20 Bridge Builder Strategies – This summer, I have been working for a start-up company called Bridge Builder Strategies.  BBS is a consulting firm that’ mission is to develop strategies, processes and tactics that help organizations build bridges with their communities and create unique experiences that result in lasting relationships and impact.  Along with the consulting firm, I am also assisting in developing a non-profit organization called The Crossroads Center for Social Impact.  This organization aims to achieve maximum community impact and bring a better quality of life for our city and the people who live here.  This will be done through collaborative partnerships with interested members of the community, funders, businesses, government, non-profits, educational institutions and the faith-based community.  I have been working for Wabash Alum, Mike Simmons along with a current Wabash student, Micah Walker.  My role this summer has mainly been the marketing aspect of Bridge Builder Strategies.  However, this company being a start-up, I have had the opportunity to learn much more than just the marketing component.

Some of the important roles I have assisted in include, strategy development and business planning, business development opportunities, social media strategy and website development.  I have also attended business meetings associated with current and potential clients of Bridge Builder Strategies.  During my internship, there are a few things that stick out to me that I have learned.  As a whole, seeing how much time and work it takes to start a company has been eye opening to me.  There are many things that go on behind the scene in a company that need to be done in order for a company to be successful.  Seeing this happen first hand has been an experience that you cannot get in a classroom or online.  I have also learned many basic marketing tools that are used by companies to help enhance their brand.  There is much more to marketing than what you see.  It has to do with empathizing with clients, building relationships, and understanding the needs and wants of customers.   Business vocabulary is another skill that I have made strides in.  During my internship, I have had to do tons of research.  As I began reading countless articles and familiarizing myself with the field of work I am in, I realized that there are many words that I just had never seen before.  This gave me lots of trouble understanding many important components of my role this summer.  So, every time I read something I did not understand, I wrote it down, researched it and did my best to understand it.  This was one of my biggest takeaways this summer.  Understanding how to research properly and teach myself things online has been extremely helpful in my success this summer.  The second half of my internship has been developing the official website for Bridge Builder Strategies.  Before my internship, I had no knowledge of building a website.  I was a bit nervous to take on this role, however, after much research, YouTube videos and playing around on the website editor, I can now say that I can build a website on my own.  I am near the end of my internship and I am finishing up the Bridge Builder Strategies Website.

I am extremely grateful I had the chance to work with Mike Simmons this summer.  He has been an amazing mentor to me as well as an educator.  I have learned more than I could’ve imagined this summer and I am excited to take what I have learned and apply it to school, future career opportunities, and my everyday life.


Raters ’19 Gets Exactly What He Wants In Internship

Justin Raters ’19 Obvious Shirts – During the spring semester, I was presented with the great opportunity to work for a small business by the name of Obvious Shirts. Obvious Shirts is a t-shirt company that began as a hobby for founder and owner Joe Johnson, Wabash class of 2011, but has blossomed into a very popular and interesting brand. As a huge Chicago Cubs fan, Joe began to make shirts that had funny, sarcastic, and obvious sayings about Cubs players on them. Since then, the shirts have become licensed by the Major League Baseball Players Association, and are now dipping into other fanbases such as New York and Washington D.C. As a huge Cubs fan myself, I was ecstatic to work for such a fun company while getting to enjoy being in Chicago for the summer.

            This position was very exciting for me because it was my first opportunity to work for a small business. It was great to see how much effort and work goes into running a small business, but also the many advantages there are as well. On a day to day basis, I would come into work and begin to collect the orders from the previous evening. I would then fill envelopes with t-shirts for each order and have them shipped to the customer. I was then given an email address that customers could reach out to with any problems or concerns they had about orders or navigating the website. I found that having this link between customer and staff was one of the most important pieces to making a small business run smoothly and be successful.

Being in the office and on the computer was not the only thing I did this summer, though. Early on in my internship, I was able to be a part of selling shirts at a weekend long sports memorabilia convention in Chicago. It was clear that not only selling online but selling shirts in person was a very important piece in spreading the brand name and engaging with customers. It was great to hear customers’ stories about the comments they get on their shirts, and their ideas for new shirt designs. Working the convention, though a bit more stressful, was one of my favorite parts of my internship.

Although my internship for the summer has ended, I will be continuing my work for Obvious Shirts by being a brand ambassador for the company. It is mine and Joe’s goal that Obvious Shirts will soon have a Wabash collection on the website, as well as the possibility of other colleges in Indiana. I am very grateful for this opportunity that was given to me by Joe Johnson ’11 and Roland Morin. This internship gave me the experience that I was looking for in a small business setting and provided me with a number of connections that I am sure to use in the future. I am very excited to have had of such a fun summer opportunity, and to continue my work with Obvious Shirts in the future!


Janak ’21 Learns Useful Skills For His Future Career With Adorant Group

Josh Janak ‘21 Adorant Group – This summer, I have been working for a start-up company called Adorant Group. Adorant Group is led by Wabash graduate, Brian Mantel and the company is creating a platform called MyMoneyRoadMap. Since I am working on a platform, my internship has allowed me to work from my house because all my work is online. The platform is being created for financial advisors to purchase and help their clients be prepared for any of life’s financial needs. Instead of constantly calling the financial advisor, Adorant Group is creating an online platform that can instantly answer any of your financial questions. There are some competitors that sell similar products but very few have created anything as in-depth as the platform Adorant Group is establishing.

Over the course of the summer, I have been presented with many different obstacles that have resulted in life lessons and valuable skills. Since Adorant Group company is a start-up, team meetings take place at unusual business hours. For example, every Tuesday night the team enters a google hangout room from 9pm to 11:15pm which have forced me to stay focused on my job and the goals at hand. Another skill that I learned was the value of good writing and online coding. Brian would task me with writing financial articles that were intended to be on the platform. These would be roughly 5-page in-depth articles about a certain financial topic such as “buying a house.” After gaining a few skills in the writing, Brian asked me to begin coding certain webpages to be added into the platform. Since I am not an experienced coder, it took me a few days to understand how it worked but eventually, I began to master the process.

Throughout the summer, I have learned and experienced what it is like to have a real job. Working for Adorant Group has been a positive example of the passion and energy is takes to make a product or service successful. The individuals on my team work on the platform after their job in order to make it as successful as possible. The most important skill that this summer internship has taught me is to find a career and work with passion in whatever job you attain. While working extra time for a start-up seems like a lot of work, the individuals are passionate about making this company successful. Adorant Group has taught me that drive and hard work is the key towards success.

My internship with Adorant Group has been a valuable experience and I have learned some useful skills for my future career and internships.  I thank Brian Mantel for his expertise and mentorship and wish his company nothing but the best.


Schulz ’19 Turns Hardships Into Valuable Learning Experience

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.


Elrefai ’20 Small Business by Bike

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.



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