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Chris Stazinski ’16 Co-Working & Entrepreneurship in South Bend

 

StazinskiBefore we get started, I want to thank the Lilly Endowment, Inc. for providing funding my internship experience this summer and for many other Wabash men. Without that funding, such an opportunity would be lost for many of us. Talking to students from other colleges I have realized how lucky we are to have an organization like that on our side.
My experience at Union Station Technology Center (USTC) in South Bend this summer was nothing short of unique. USTC is the largest data center in Indiana and a top 40 carrier hotel in the nation, and the primary model of Infrastructure as a Service allows the company to provide storage and high-speed connectivity for businesses ranging in size from small and local to large and national. The goal this summer for myself and my coworker, Kevin Yan ’15, and was to design a co-working studio – the Depot – within the Union Station building, and then market and recruit people to work inside of it. The Depot is to be a hub of collaboration and mutual development among freelancers, independent consultants, and entrepreneurs.
In doing research on other successful co-working studios, we were lucky enough to be welcomed into MatchBOX in Lafayette and Launch Fishers in Fishers. It was a great opportunity to network with others with a similar goal and ask questions about how they became successful. In developing the Depot, we had to utilize our liberal arts education because the tasks varied greatly. Among other things, a few of our tasks were designing the layout of the space, creating the logo for the Depot, and building and managing the website. We also created various documents such as the membership agreement and the terms of use. We were also constantly reaching out to others in the community and planning events for the Depot to gather members.
I learned a few lessons from this internship. The first and foremost lesson is the importance of having a plan and set goals. A couple times we started on a task and then lost our way. When that happened, we had to restart and tweak our approach, but it was something that could have been avoided by having several smaller benchmark goals. Another lesson that was emphasized this summer is to manage your network and utilize the connections you have. It has also stressed to me the importance of being a reliable contact myself, because how can you expect others to help you if you are not willing to help them. In all, it was a very educational internship that taught me much about entrepreneurship and will help guide my endeavors after college. Once again, thank you to Wabash and the Lilly Endowment for making this possible.


Clayton Randolph ’16 Angie’s To Do List

IMG_1349Starting a new job can be a nerving experience. There’s new people, a new role, and more responsibility. But, that is also what makes a new job fun and exciting. An internship is a chance to introduce you to a role that may interest you upon graduating college. My internship at Angie’s List has been nothing short of eye-opening. I didn’t know what to expect when I first started. I had heard from others how great of a company Angie’s List was, so I was eager to see if that held true once I arrived. And, it has. Angie’s List takes great pride in their interns—there are over 30 of us here this summer—and goes to great lengths to make us feel part of the company. Interns are given daily tasks, and some take on various projects with supervisors over our time here. Personally, I’ve worked on retrieving and organizing data—using SQL (Structured Query Language)—to be given to our Call Center and Concierge teams allowing them to make phone calls to potential and existing customers. The majority of my work here, though, has revolved around a new product called SnapFix, which debuted in 2014. In short, you can upload a picture of a project you want to be completed through Angie’s List app, and we will match you will the highest rated service provider in the area. I performed an analysis of SnapFix, put it in a presentation format—and after many meetings to get it just right—delivered it to several Directors and Managers for review. I presented my findings in a presentation, detailing the reasoning behind some of the suggestions. I was amazed at the opportunity. How many times do interns get to interact with upper management on projects? I was excited I got to take part in such a project, and I can’t wait to see where it goes. Who knows, maybe in 6 months, I’ll end up seeing my ideas being used.

The company has provided many fun activities for the interns here as well. We had a day at the Children’s Museum, an upcoming social media workshop, mock interviews and resume help. Did I mention there is a 24-hour softball tournament the entire company takes part in? It’s why Angie’s List has a sparkling reputation with its employees, and one of the reasons it’s a top company to work for in Indiana and the country. One of the other opportunities presented to interns is a chance to shadow different departments. This can happen up to two times. I recently shadowed the Corporate Communications team and Marketing team—and boy was it informative. I was able to talk to the Director of Communications, Media Relations Manager, Executive Writer, Content Marketing and Promotions Manager, and finally the Vice President of Corporate Communications. After the communications team, I shadowed Laura Crafton in the Marketing Department. She was incredibly knowledgeable about how to best market and brand your business, and I was able to learn a lot just in the few hours we were together.
We’ve also met many executives during our time here. That list includes interim Chief Executive Officer Mark Howell (He actually gave every intern an interesting book about how to act in the workplace when you’re just starting your career), Co-Founder and Chief Marketing Officer Angie Hicks (she is the face of the company, and the person it is named after…and a DePauw graduate). I have also met with the Executive Vice President of Sales Insight and Optimization personally and learned about his job, how he used his education, and how he manages and leads the people underneath them. For me, all valuable information I plan to use as soon as possible once I get back to school and in future jobs.

None of this would be possible without the gracious help of the Lilly Endowment, as well as Wabash. I continue to tell others how Wabash provides opportunities that few others get a chance to experience. My supervisor, JP Patterson, is a Wabash graduate—class of 08—and has made me feel a part of the company since the beginning. He has allowed me to sit in on meetings and been very resourceful when I have questions about how the business operates. He has given me multiple opportunities for growth and development—for that, and I’m thankful. This internship has been a fantastic opportunity to learn about corporate business—and it has prepared me for a job after school, whether that is at Angie’s List or elsewhere.


Tyler Regnier ’16 Challenges in Inventory and Product Development

Tyler Internship BlogTest Gauge & Backflow Supply Indianapolis fills quite a unique niche in the Indianapolis market. The company, which was founded in 2011 by James Probst, supplies backflow prevention devices, backflow repair parts, and backflow test gauges. Additionally, the company runs a week-long course several times a year, which educates and certifies plumbers to test properly backflow devices. Prior to the start of the internship, I had very limited knowledge of backflow devices, but I soon learned that a backflow prevention device prevents contaminated waste water from flowing into clean domestic water lines. Working for Test Gauge & Backflow Supply has broadened my business horizons, and given me experience in inventory management, product line development, and the diverse components of a small business.
As Product Development Intern, I have helped create and promote Test Gauge & Backflow Supply’s water quality product line, working closely with the company’s new water quality specialist, Larry Owen. With 30 years of experience in the world of industrial water softeners and reverse osmosis systems, Larry was asked to join the company to head the water quality line. I was given the task of marketing the product. Working with others in the company, I was able to devise a product development plan including market research, pricing, product selection, print and online marketing materials, and a detailed set of goals to guide the development of our new product line.
Being my first in-depth experience working for a company that provides a tangible product, developing the water quality product line has certainly been a learning experience. Some aspects of the product development plan were fairly self-explanatory, such as pricing and product selection. Others, such as creating professional print marketing materials and performing market research, were much more challenging. I conducted online research, read product catalogues, and had numerous discussions with James and Larry, all to gain a better understanding of the industry and properly identify the best potential suppliers and customers. I then compiled a list of potential customers using various online resources such as NAISC codes and websites of plumbing and mechanical engineering associations, which we then used as our starting target market.

In addition to developing the water quality line, I have assisted the company as they improve their inventory management processes. Working for a retailer has opened my eyes to how inventory can so strongly impact cash flow. Turning profits as a retailer is not simply about making sales. Profits are strongly impacted by the amount of inventory kept on the shelves, the amount of time that inventory sits, the method in which the inventory is purchased, and multiple other factors. Currently, I am analyzing how customers receive their product, either by will call, shipment from our warehouse, or shipment directly from our supplier’s warehouse. With this information, we can adjust our inventory to meet the needs of our customer without purchasing excess inventory.
In addition to my newly acquired knowledge of inventory management, my position with Test Gauge & Backflow Supply has allowed me to improve my professional skills. Working closely with Larry and James has greatly improved my teamwork skills. Each of us has had specific roles in creating the new product line and depend on each other’s outcomes to complete our tasks. Additionally, this position has given me the opportunity to set and track specific goals. Towards the beginning of my internship, I worked with the other members of the team to create a list of specific goals and completion dates for establishing, marketing, and selling water softening systems. I have also practiced and improved my Microsoft Excel skills that I learned in ECO-251 with Dr. Howland and Dr. Byun. I use Excel nearly every day to figure pricing, compile market research, track customer contacts, and much more.

Although I did not become a certified backflow tester, I did participate in parts of our backflow training course. Our week long course includes classroom training and hands-on backflow device testing in our custom wet lab. Here, I am testing a reduced pressure principle backflow assembly using a differential pressure gauge (see picture).

I am extremely grateful to both Wabash and the Lilly Endowment, which have allowed me to gain and sharpen my professional skills through this internship. I would also like to thank Kim Johnson who provided me with expert advice and assistance as I designed and created a print product catalogue for the company!


Wesley Virt ’17 Playing for Team Lilly

Wesley SpencerBWhen I think about a team, I think about a group of people who have the same abilities and desires. Before becoming a financial economics major, I thought that the only way I could play on the team of impacting people’s life was through pursuing a medical degree. This team has direct contact with patients every day. They are the ones that make the difference. I slowly began to realize that this is not the case at all, and this realization has been exemplified every day here during my internship at Tx: Team.
Having an impact during an internship is one of the reasons that I decided to join Tx: Team. Tx: Team is a physical therapy company based in Indianapolis but does business in many different states. I remember speaking to Scott Benedict, the CEO of Tx: Team during the interview for this internship. He said that the intern would have the ability to speak freely and be treated as an equal member of the team. He also assured me that I would not be getting coffee for him. I never realized how accurate this statement was until I started the internship.

On the first day of this internship, I was introduced to all of the tools that are used for forecasting. I remember saying to Spencer Sherridan, the financial analyst, on the first day, “These tools are ridiculously slow. There has to be another way.” His response back was simple, “Find it.” So with that motivation I set off to find another way to compile the data and make the tools work faster. I consulted many different sources to find the best program to use that was not Excel. The answer came to me with a Microsoft program called Access. Over the next few weeks, I would transform the physician referral Excel sheet into a quicker, and more user-friendly Access version. My best friends those next few weeks became “Access 2010 for Dummies” and the Office Support website since no one at the office knew much about Access.

After many obstacles and challenges, I finally finished the new Access database. Everyone in the office was impressed and wanted to work on changing all of the forecasting tools to Access. This one simple example shows that even though I am only an intern, I had a major impact on the team. I also impacted the team in another way by using my skills from Rhetoric 290- Deliberation. I got the chance to compose a deliberation for associates to voice their thoughts on how to increase the enthusiasm within the company. This just shows the value of a liberal arts education. I had to use skills from a variety of different classes and backgrounds to accomplish the task at hand. I would like to thank the Lilly Endowment for giving me all of these opportunities to learn a new operating system and for allowing me to realize even as an intern I can have a huge impact.

In conclusion, this team that I work for does not consist solely of therapists. It consists of people from all different specialties and experiences with each member making a difference in people’s lives directly or indirectly. They practice hard to give everyone the opportunity to live the healthiest life possible. I am part of that team. Tx: Team.

This post is part of the Looksharp Internship Blog Competition. To read more about the competition and view other posts go here.


Azlan Munir ’18 Capital investment: The Bigger Picture

Azlan MunirThis summer, I had the opportunity to intern at Intellectual Analytics, LLC in South Bend with Wabash alumni Jim Abercrombie ’02 and Shane Fimbel ‘02. Intellectual Analytics (IA) is a company interested primarily in acquisitions and consolidation with other privately held businesses. My main tasks include intensive research of market segments to look for business opportunities in various industries and come up with data to justify investment in those ventures. Adding to the whole experience was the fact that I shared co-working space with Trek10, USTC and enFocus interns at Union Station Technology Center (USTC). USTC is essentially a data center that houses many other businesses.

Although Intellectual Analytics is primarily interested in the acquisition and consolidation process, this summer they extended their operations to diversify into other industries—one of which is the export of hay products (alfalfa hay, in particular). To capitalize on an eightfold increase in hay demand from China and utilize IA’s existing business connections there, we decided to understand the market and begin operations in this industry.

Let me first start by explaining what exactly we were looking to trade. Alfalfa hay is a field crop mainly used as feed for dairy cows. But why were we interested in crops? With rising incomes of the Chinese middle class comes the increase in demand for dairy products such as milk, cheese, and yogurt. (Recall elasticity lessons from Eco 101!) My task was to understand the economics, agronomy and logistics of this global industry. The variety of tasks in this project made this an exciting yet challenging experience. I started by laying out a step-by-step process of exporting alfalfa from California to Chinese ports. Then I proceeded to collect the shipping, insurance, trucking, freight and other associated costs from multiple sources. The exchange rate was an important factor to keep in mind during this process. To understand the hay journey from harvest to port, I looked at yield data, bale packaging, compression, inventory tracking systems and testing methods while keeping in mind the USDA quality guidelines for hay and forage. At each stage of the research, it was imperative that I produce detailed cost analyzes for us to evaluate various options and decide on the best ones.

After a few weeks into the project, I made personal contact with dozens of hay exporters and government officials (customs, Chamber of Commerce etc.) to understand trade policies and issues we could face on the other side of the globe. My research would not have been complete without learning tricks of the trade from industry experts. Along the way, I was exposed to the level of politics prevalent in this global industry.

My research of different market segments was instrumental in company decision making as it determined the direction we wanted to pursue in our deal with the Chinese. To eliminate any communication barriers, my presentations were translated into Mandarin and sent to our buyers in China.

Some of my other shorter projects include looking for opportunities in the Chinese consumer electronics industry, US healthcare industry, and housing market. Overall, this internship has been a great opportunity for me to experience first-hand the different facets of running a business and acknowledge the complexities involved in deal sourcing. I learned a great deal from business meetings and one-on-one conversations with Jim and Shane. Be it in a conference room or a Cubs baseball game, there was always something to learn in their company. One of the many valuable skills I gained during this time is persistence—not giving up even when you think the data you need is just not there.

I want to thank Jim Abercrombie ’02 and Shane Fimbel ’02, who have been great mentors to me during this time. The Career Services, Wabash alumni and most importantly, the Lilly Endowment Fund deserve credit for providing such great opportunities to students. This experience wouldn’t have been possible without them.

 


Tyler Munjas ’16 Beyond the Reviews

Angie’s List: Beyond the Reviews

1-TYLER MUNJAS

Tyler Munjas ’16 – Though I now am a true “List Lover,” I must admit that I was a tad skeptical at first about my decision to intern with the Indianapolis-based Angie’s List. Looking back five weeks ago to my first drive over, I had harnessed skepticism, nerves, and some doubt. My official title reads “Business Intelligence Intern” and I knew that I would be working with Data Analytics, but what could I possibly do for a company that runs solely off of consumer reviews? That question was the source of my skepticism. After meeting up with, and talking to my supervisor and fellow Fiji Brother, JP Patterson ’08, however, I began to see an Angie’s List that stretched far beyond just consumer reviews.

For example, one of my first projects was to work with “Band of Neighbors.” This new feature of Angie’s List divides members up into geographically defined neighborhoods, which is separate from, and at a far more local level than the traditional markets that members are placed when registering. Within their neighborhoods, members can post reviews, inquire about hyperlocal events, and communicate with those closest to them.

By developing an understanding of the underlying goals and missions of Angie’s List, I saw it not just as a business which provides its members with top rated service providers (the companies that are reviewed on Angie’s List), but also as a tool for these service providers to improve their daily operations through incentive programs. Service Providers cannot pay to be on Angie’s List, but once they meet certain criterion, which relies heavily on their consumer designated grade, they are able to pay to advertise on Angie’s List. The grade produced from their reviews also determines whether or not they show up at the top or bottom of the list when members search within their category. This is just one way that service providers are incentivized to perform and interact well with their customers.

Similar to the discounted offers of Groupon, Service Providers can also offer “Big Deals”. These deals offer discounted rates and prices on standard cleaning, remodeling, installing, etc., and can only be purchased through Angie’s List. However, only the top consumer rated and trusted service providers are allowed to offer Big Deals. Since these deals are to be purchased exclusively through our site, it allows us to monitor the service provider and their communication with our member. By controlling and monitoring all parts of the transaction, from the initial search to the payment of services, I’ve realized how dedicated Angie’s Lists is to improving the efficiency and quality of the businesses on the list. Not only does this represent Angie’s Lists flexibility and ability to successfully pivot their business strategies, but it also represents the dedication of its members, ensuring that they receive the best quality of service from any company they hire from the list.

As an intern for the Data Analytics team, I’ve become exposed to all of these unique facets. I learned how to write and understand code in MySQL, which is database software where all of Angie’s Lists’ data is stored in hundreds of different tables. When different departments need quantitative information on service providers or members, they contact the analysts who code the query, or request that pulls pieces of data from different tables to create a new table specific to that request. Having just taken Statistics and Econometrics where I worked with Stata, the data software used by the econ department, I am able to take some of what I had learned in the classroom and apply it to the different projects I am assigned. I would like to thank JP for giving me the opportunity to take on meaningful, actual work. Rather than sending me his coffee order, he sends me requests and projects that he is working on, and compares our results, guiding and teaching me through the best possible way; experience. Also, he contacted the Accounting and Finance department expressing my interest in their work, allowing me the opportunity to shadow them for this week. In true Wabash fashion, this internship has been nothing short of an exciting, valuable, and well-rounded experience.

Finally, I would like to take the last part of my blog to thank Wabash College for continually offering such opportunities. This is my 3rd internship through Wabash and the experiences I’ve had the pleasure of taking part in are an integral part of my professional development. Last but definitely not least, a huge THANK YOU is necessary for Lilly Endowment, Inc. for providing not just me, but also Angie’s List with this opportunity. Without the funding from the Lilly Endowment, Inc. this literally would not be possible.


Hemant Sah ’17– Health Department

Hemant Sah Summer Internship 2014Hemant Sah ’17 – I am thankful to Fountain-Warren County Health Department for giving me an opportunity to work with them. I am on an eight week long internship that focuses on addressing public health issues.

I knew public health is about rendering health services to as many people as you can. But the internship made me realize my knowledge was very basic. Public health is a very broad topic, beyond what I had thought. It refers to all the organized measures and informed choices of society, organizations, communities and individuals to prevent diseases, promote health, and prolong life among the population as a whole. Public health organizations (here, Fountain-Warren County Health Department) plan activities based on population health analysis, and aim to provide the conditions in which people can be healthy and completely eradicate threatening diseases.

The Fountain & Warren County Health Department recognizes that health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity. Therefore, they dedicate their services to help the citizens of both Fountain and Warren County achieve and maintain their highest level of health.  As part of my internship, I assist the health workers and professionals to monitor and diagnose the health concerns such as vaccination and control of infectious diseases, safer workplaces, safer and healthier foods, safe drinking water, health of mother and infants, tobacco use and abuse, and prescription drug abuse, etc.

I have diverse tasks both menial and exciting. I am responsible for entering data into the State’s system and expedite the paperwork. Exciting tasks include meetings with the county commissioners, analyze surveys, produce reports and, examine CT and MRI scans. I also got to do food inspections at grocery stores and restaurants in both counties. I received training to dispatch and manage emergency services like fire department, local hospital and, law enforcement. I input septic system information into iTOSS (Indiana’s network for
Tracking of On-site Sewage Systems). iTOSS keeps records of all new and old septic records which can be assessed by any health worker within the state. There is another similar system called CHIRP which keeps record of immunization of the county’s population within the state. I also assisted the health educator during the Park’s Program to educate kids on use of sunscreen and sun safety. Community Action Program (CAP) is an important initiative that adopted several ways that Indiana is trying to stop all forms of tobacco use.

I also got a chance to pick a health issue for my own project to be completed by the end of the internship. As obesity is one of the major public health issues in both Fountain and Warren County. I chose obesity, for my independent project. Last year’s Community Health Needs Assessment survey revealed that 34% of the population of the bi-county area is obese. The data also coincides with the United States’ one-third obese population. Therefore, I’m working to organize a private screening of ‘FED UP’. The documentary examines the truth behind “low-fat foods”, sugar intake, corporate politics and advertising of processed food. The documentary is not scheduled to be released in Indiana and I advise everyone reading this blog to watch ‘FED UP’. The movie director urged ‘everyone who eats’ to watch the documentary. It will change the way you think about food.

Lastly, I would like to reflect on what all these information and experience have helped me to accomplish. I am from a Nepal but we have similar health issues in Nepalese community. Nepal is yet to recognize prescription drug abuse and sun exposure as a potential risk to public health. We do recognize tobacco abuse as a public health issue but the actions being taken fail to be aggressive and effective. When I go back, I can propose the authorities, these successful steps that the health department and Indiana have taken to tackle health issues of my community in Nepal.

All this would not have been possible without a Wabash College and the Lilly Endowment Fund. I express my heartiest gratitude to Lilly Endowment, Inc. which has made a wide range of new programs and opportunities available for students to hone leadership skills and work experience across the state. I also thank all the alumni and friends of Wabash who donate Wabash to produce capable men.


Hanes ’16 Hanapin & the PPC Community

Sam Hanes ‘ 16  – So this is awesome. I am in week four of my internship here at Hanapin Marketing in Bloomington and it’s been a blast!

As soon as I got back from studying and singing in Ecuador (also a Wabash occasion), I had two days to gather myself and get down to Bloomington. The first day was a great day for orientation, as I was able to sit in on REDBOP day at Hanapin. REDBOP is held once a month and is a day of research in which we all get together and discuss and present new topics and tactics that we have learned or problems that we have solved. The Director of Talent and Culture at Hanapin, Chris Martin, was my first contact as he guided me through the interview process and coordinated my internship. It has also been great to meet and interact with the CEO of Hanapin and Wabash graduate Pat East (’00).

I have really enjoyed my time at the office. All of my coworkers have been pleasant to work with and are always willing to help me out no matter how busy they are. Since the internship is Pay Per Click Marketing, the work environment is relaxed (they bump music in the office all day) and the employees are young and tech-savvy.

Sam Hanes

But it hasn’t all been rainbows and lollipops. Going into the internship, I had barely any marketing experience and absolutely no PPC experience. For those unfamiliar, Pay Per Click, PPC and Paid Search are all terms for advertising online (like on Bing or Google) where a company pays money for users to click on that advertisement. Hanapin specializes in digital advertising for their clients.  Without any experience, and without being extremely techy (for a young guy), the initial tasks were quite overwhelming.

I was finally able to get the ball rolling. Each day I worked with my mentor, Amanda West-Bookwalter, on learning new tasks. Each time I learn a new task, I get account managers that ask me to perform those tasks on their accounts. The amount I’ve learned about PPC and all of the work that Hanapin does for their clients in just four weeks has been incredible.  Despite all the fun and learning, I have still been put to work! I have:

  • Ran spelling and 404 checker audits for all of our clients
  • Put together congruency analysis and reports for enterprise-level clients
  • Performed a mobile audit for an enterprise-level client
  • Worked on keyword research for enterprise, small business, and retainer clients
  • Done landing page assessments for Conversion Rate Optimization
  • Run affinity analytics in Google Analytics
  • Worked on a keyword build-out for an enterprise-level client

These are just a few specific tasks I have worked on, not to mention all of the different software and PPC terms and tactics that I have learned!

I couldn’t be happier with my internship here at Hanapin. I’d like to give a big thanks to Hanapin, Wabash, and the Lilly Endowment for making this possible. I’ve become extremely interested in the world of PPC and the PPC community, and the company culture at Hanapin is something that I enjoy and appreciate. My first internship experience is something that will benefit me in the future no matter what path I take!