Sikorski ’20 Uses Newly Acquired Skills During Consulting Project

Aaron Sikorski ’20 LABB Intern – To begin, I would like to express the utmost gratitude for the Lilly Endowment for allowing me to take part in such a valuable experience. Over the course of 7 weeks, the LABB Program has provided extensive insight in many areas of business including marketing, leadership, entrepreneurship, and networking. For the past few weeks, we have applied this knowledge to a consulting project for Wabash College.

While no one seems to confidently be able to define “consulting” due to the varied applications of the word, all can agree that it involves a high degree of problem solving. Wabash College, though impressive in many ways, encounters problems every day. However, what sets Wabash apart is its confidence in the students themselves to solve the problems. Thus, when Wabash came to the LABB interns with two problems, we were more than ready to search for solutions. We split into two groups to get started; my group chose to work on the armory.

Because of its rich history and central location on campus, the armory has always been in serious discussions for potential renovations. However, a renovation has never been decided upon because of controversies with proposed budgets and other variables. Thus, we wanted to finally put the debate to rest once and for all. To begin, we targeted a budget constraint based on the results of previous budget proposals. Next, we reached out to David Morgan, who took us on an extensive tour of every room of the armory. We asked him and other campus service employees what could and couldn’t be renovated, and what they would like to see changed.

For the next few days, our group brainstormed potential changes in the armory based on what Wabash College is missing. We agreed that having two computer labs wasted valuable space in the armory, and ignored the increasing availability of computers campus wide. Along with the space currently occupied as a recreational room, we saw a lot of potential in the second floor. However, for many days, our group could not agree upon what that floor should be used for. Amid our discussions, we met with several members of faculty to discuss what they would like to see in the armory. While the faculty was very open to meeting with us to discuss, our conversations often led to listing all the problems the armory has, rather than what we could do to make it right. At the same time, we met with three local business to get estimates for painting, resurfacing floors, and designing a collaborative study area where the second-floor computer lab is currently. Finally, we worked on roughly how much it would cost to bring the recreational room into the 21st century.

Those four components alone nearly maxed out our budget, but truly did not scratch the surface on all that the armory needs. Thus, we concluded as a group that while the armory has potential, it has structural fallacies so large that a small renovation to increase student traffic into the building would be counterintuitive. In a presentation with Dean Raters, Dean Jones, and the President and Vice President of the Student Senate, we reported our findings. Although we were disappointed by our own conclusion, we were happy to finally cease talks on the armory.

This consulting project provided an incredible learning experience for myself and my peers. First, our meetings with staff and local businesses gave perspective on professional working environments. Secondly, collaborating with a group for an extensive period of time improved my leadership and multitasking skills. Finally, I realized through our conclusion that often the right decision is not the easiest one to make. I am positive that I will be able to apply the knowledge gained from this experience in many of my future endeavors.

Secrest ’20 Values Business Plan Proposal Opportunity to Chicago Alumni

Zachary Secrest ’20 LABB Intern – First off, I would like to thank the Lilly Endowment for making it possible for myself and fellow interns to participate in the LABB program this summer. This summer has been a real eye opener as to what all it takes to start and run a business. Meeting and hearing the stories of many alumni has reassured me just how strong our Wabash Network is, or as my boss calls it, the Wabash Mafia. The LABB program also goes to show that business is in every industry so there are many benefits of knowing the basics of business. This gives me enthusiasm, being a Psychology major here at Wabash, that I can be an entrepreneur and not major in business. The program proves that having a liberal arts education can set you apart by being a well-rounded individual ready to think critically, and have the out of the box thinking that employers look for today.

During our program, we created two business plans, one for a food truck and the other for an app. The first one we completed was the food truck in which we were thrown into the lion’s den. After the learning curve my fellow interns and I experienced, we dove into our second business plan, the app. The hardest part about the app was coming up with was coming up with an idea that was not already out there in the market. However, the pressure was on because we were going up to Chicago to present our own group’s business plans in front of a tough alumni panel. The panel was made up of 5 accomplished businessmen: Howard Hallengren, Tim McHugh, Brian Mantel, Brian Ferrar, and David Bowen. My group ended up coming up with a cooking app called Fridgraid. We wanted to create a cheap and fast way to cook meals. Our app would provide simple recipes that are easy for someone who has never cooked before to follow. One thing all groups learned was make sure you research every detail it would take to make that app, because if you did not the judges would know.

With our plan for the app complete we headed up to Chicago. The night we arrived, we went to a networking event and meet many alumni who were eager to hear our business plans and our plans for what may come after Wabash. After the event, we headed to Gino’s East to get a taste of some famous Chicago deep dish pizza. We woke up the next day invigorated to give our presentations to show how much we learned from the past seven weeks. Man, did those judges grind us with questions. Luckily, we were prepared for most, but being beginners there was bound to be something that we had not researched.

Overall, the presentation was a valuable experience that I will never forget. I recommend any Wabash student wanting to go into business to apply for the LABB internship, because it will challenge you to think critically and have a great seven weeks doing it.

Roy ’19 Applies Skills Learned during Internship During Business Plan Proposal

Duncan Roy ’19 LABB Intern – In the last week of the LABB Program, myself and the other 17 LABB interns traveled to Chicago to present our final business plans to a group of successful alums and friends of the College. This business plan was an accumulation of everything that we have learned throughout the program. I would like to thank the Lilly Endowment for making this incredible learning experience possible. I didn’t really know what to expect when the program started, but it has exceeded all expectations and I will forever be thankful for this opportunity.

Throughout our seven weeks we learned about finance, marketing and the ins and outs of decision making in the business world. The culminating project for us intern was to create a business plan for a smartphone application and present it to a panel of judges. We were divided into four teams and started brainstorming ideas for a potential app. The process of coming up with an idea for a business is much more than simply coming up with an app that would be cool. We had to take into consideration other apps that do similar things, how it will make money, the pain that it was solving and how big the market would be for such app. Our group thought that we had a great, new idea for an app and had begun coming up with a marketing plan and designing a mockup of the app. Then, like in most business ideas we had a setback. We decided to do one more search for competitors and found two apps that were exactly the same as what we had envisioned and were forced to change directions. In the weeks leading up to our final presentation we gave multiple mini-pitches to Mr. Morin and others from around campus to get feedback on what needs improvement. I learned that it is impossible to be over prepared walking into a presentation, because the audience will always have a question that you haven’t thought of yet. After weeks of refining our marketing plan, financials, and presentation and we were finally ready to present to the judges. Like Mr. Morin has said throughout the summer “it’s about the process” and this process of creating and revising a business idea was an incredibly valuable application of all the skills we learned during the first six weeks. Being able to stand up in front of a group and pitch and idea and take the criticism and questions is so important in business and the LABB program as allowed me to have experience, and feel much more comfortable doing just that. Once again, I’d like to thank the Lilly Endowment for this opportunity to expand my business and presentation skills.

Wagner ’19 Enhances Unfamiliar Skills in LABB Program through Consulting Project

Kevin Wagner ’19 LABB Intern – First of all, I would like to thank the Lilly Endowment for making the Liberal Arts Bridge to Business (L.A.B.B.) program possible.  This program has been a great introduction to business and it has shed light on some of the more unfamiliar areas to me, such as marketing and consulting.  Due to this program, I have been introduced to a wide variety of business aspects and I am eager to learn more in the future.

In particular, our most recent accomplishment was completing our consulting project.  During this project, we focused on the renovation of one of Wabash College’s most dated buildings.  The Armory is a building that is overdue for a remodel.  During our time spent on this project, it became apparent that there are a lot of moving parts when attempting to complete a large project such as this one.  We looked at floor plans, heating and cooling, wall reconstruction, paint, carpet, etc.  As it is pretty apparent, a simple remodel quickly turns into a complex list of requirements that is no easy feat.  With any complex project, there must be an appropriate amount of teamwork and task delegation.  I believe this is why this project was such a valuable portion of the L.A.B.B. program, it facilitates teamwork, as well as organized collaboration.  These are two staple skills that will be required in the future, regardless of a person’s career path.  These are qualities that everyone should improve upon as they gain experience since teamwork will always be required not only in business, but life in general.  This project has introduced me to the complexity of consulting projects and also sharpened my interpersonal skills when it comes to collaboration.

Thus far, the L.A.B.B. program has been a great experience that has introduced me to financial literacy, efficient teamwork, and business terminology.  I think this program has been a great introduction to business, while still being fun and interesting.  I look forward to learning more as I get older and come upon more difficult problems.  I think that after this program, I am more equipped to merge my business knowledge with a liberal arts education.  In doing so, I will be able to advance my career and find some success along the way following graduation.  I would like to again thank the Lilly Endowment and all the faculty at Wabash involved with making the LABB program such a rewarding experience.

Podgorny ’20 Has Experience of a Lifetime in LABB Program

Luke Podgorny ’20 LABB Intern – I would first like to thank the Lilly Endowment for funding such a great program that has given me an experience of a life time. Secondly, I would like to thank Mr. Roland Morin and Mr. Nicholas Pollock for running such a well-organized program for all of my co-workers and I. Today, I am fortunate enough to be able to talk about my experience during week 7 as I am sure we all enjoyed week 7 the most. All in all, I knew coming into this internship that I would have at least a few experiences that would make it very worth it, which was saying a lot as I really didn’t have the best idea of what to exactly expect. Now, my assumption has been blown away because this internship was more than I ever could’ve expected it to be. Week 7, to sum it up in a very blunt way, would best be described as: life changing. Mr. Morin provided us the opportunity to visit Chicago on an overnight stay to present our Mobile App business plans to a panel of 5 alumni and friends of the college. We departed mid-day from Wabash College in route to The Windy City. After we arrived, we were treated to a private event that was used as a time to network with alumni located in or around Chicago.

During this experience, I am lucky enough to say that I was able to network with many different men that have very different professions and career paths. I was able to network with alums from Law School and others that are in hiring positions in big corporations, giving me many perspectives and advice for later in life. The next day is when we presented our business plans. I was very nervous entering the room as the panel of judges, or angel investors, were very reputable and respectable gentlemen. One of which being the Vice President of the Federal Reserve in Chicago. After our presentations, the angel investors asked questions and then in return, gave us advice that was very helpful. Some stayed after for a lunch to talk more with us around a nice meal and others had to leave to go back to work. This experience helped me realize that the sky is the limit in business and that would’ve never happened without this program. Networking with various alumni has given me a much greater understanding of business and where I could see myself in it. I have thoroughly enjoyed my internship this summer and have been able to build on a variety of skills that I will use the rest of my life. Again, I would like to thank the Lilly Endowment, Mr. Roland Morin, and Mr. Nicholas Pollock for their generosity and providing me with an experience of a life time.

Banks ’19 Gains Valuable Insight and Priceless Connections in Last Week of Internship

Earnest Banks ’19 LABB Intern – In the beginning of week 7 of the LABB program, we had the pleasure of learning, interacting, and being mentored by Bill Kirst who is an appreciable college friend. He gave us an expansive story of his college experience; even though, Wabash was not the school of his choice. It was great to hear from someone that is not an alumni talk about Wabash education, community, and alumni. He later told us that being a Wabash man is one thing he would change if he could. We were able ask multiple questions about life, careers, advice, and schooling. He gave us informative responses which were valuable to every intern. The mini project that we did with Ford allowed all of the interns to create substantial plans with Microsoft, Amazon, and Google. Since there were multiple groups, we were able to get interesting perspectives from the different participants. Bill Kirst met with each group before the presentation and asked questions that furthered every groups thinking. We really appreciated him for traveling to advise us. The time we spent with him was very interactive, which lead us into the holiday.

After enjoying Independence Day to ourselves, we spent the day after traveling to Chicago and when we got there we had a networking event with Wabash Alumni. There were alumni from multiple classes. From one member of class of 51’, we received an ample amount of information. He and other alumni gave their Wabash stories. The changes that occurred from then until now is very impressive because there were somethings apart of traditions that were admirable. Additionally, we made connections with people in Chicago, and personally that is great because I am a Chicago native so I am able to connect with Wabash Men when I go home. Meeting with alumni the night before the big presentation was very helpful, it helped create a comfortable atmosphere for the business pitches the following morning.

July 6th was the big day when we had to present the application that we created for our last project. There were multiple alumni that came to support and judge the presentation. The presentation consisted of 18 interns that were split into 4 teams to create an application. The four ideas for the application consisted of traveling abroad tips, cooking tips, charity donation competition, and an app small college. There were five judges that were potential investors much like the popular TV show, shark tank. The five judges were Howard Hellengren, a Princeton alum who was chief investment officer for First National Banks of Chicago, International Private Banking, Chase Manhattan Banks New York, and other important business positions. Brian Farrar is a Wabash alum who is the founder and partner of Maven Wave Partners. Brian Mantel is the Vice President of the Federal Reserve of Chicago. David Bowen is the founder/managing partner of SaBo Investments. Our last judge was Tim McHugh, a Wabash alum who is the partner and senior equity research analyst for William Blair & Company. Having these judges attend our presentations were very beneficial because they asked questions that we had not thought about beforehand. We all appreciated the feedback and presentations of everyone there.

This opportunity would not have been possible without the support of the Lilly Endowment and Wabash College. I also, would like to thank CIBE Director Roland Morin for making this opportunity available to me. It has been a life-changing experience that I will use in my future career.

Nehrig ’20 Learns Time Management Skills in LABB Program

Schuyler Nehrig ’20 LABB InternFirst and foremost I want to thank a Lilly Endowment for giving me this opportunity to learn about business and entrepreneurship. Also, I would like to think Roland Morin for giving me this opportunity. In week six we did a number of objectives throughout the week ranging from our business plan for our applications, to our consulting project regarding National Act. My app group is “Charity Chase” and we developed an app with a unique opportunity to blend goal-setting with philanthropy. We are currently discussing how we could use this idea not only for people to stay in shape, but to also donate to a charitable cause.

On Monday, we met at the Arnold house as group to talk about what was going on in the world, and to discuss the agenda for the day. After we broke off into our app groups my group researched and tried to get all the correct information for our presentation. Like I stated before Charity Chase is a philanthropic, workout, and motivation app.

On Tuesday, we worked on our consulting projects to get prepared for our presentation on Thursday. Our plan was to get rid of National Act as one big weekend and instead allocate the funds over a period of 12 weeks. It has been interesting to watch this develop as the original idea has changed time and time again. Later in the week, we presented our consulting projects to the Student Body President and Vice Presidents, as well as the Deans at the college. After the presentation, we were given feedback on how we could accomplish this idea next fall. 

Week 6 was a busy week. Not only did we finish and present our consulting projects, but we also had to prepare are business plan pitches for Chicago. We presented our plan to Roland Morin just a week before we would present it in Chicago to judges that had been successful in their own business ventures. Mr. Morin gave us some final feedback so we could be as best prepared for these presentations as possible. I think one of the most valuable lessons I learned from this is time management and how to use constructive criticism to further develop ideas. It is easy to get caught up in your idea and sometimes causes one to miss small details that are problems for the audience. In contrast, this internship has been a wonderful learning experience where I have been able to work on my speaking, leadership, and time management skills. I would like to thank the Lilly Endowment for making this opportunity available to me. I have had the chance to grow in ways that I never had thought was possible. 


Thomas Kenney ’20 LABB – For Week 6, the Liberal Arts Bridges to Business interns spent most of their time perfecting the run-throughs of the consulting and business projects for the final presentations. My current business project is an application for Wabash College. It would work for prospective students, alumni, and current students. We believe that it may create a better overall experience for Wabash and its Little Giants, as well as increase revenue.

My consulting project consists of researching potential allocations of Student Senate funds and speaking with the proper authorities regarding the legitimacy of our options. While most of Monday consisted of tons of preparation, the night was great for our potential business plan. We spoke on the phone with an alumnus and received his praise, guidance, and support for the hopeful launching of our app. After speaking with him, we had a better vision and plan for how to truly bring our app to creation. On Tuesday, we prepared for our practice pitch due Wednesday by running through our slideshow. Wednesday was actual practice. We rehearsed our business presentations in front of Roland Morin.  We received a lot of helpful, constructive criticism. Nonetheless, our presentation was very effective and visually appealing. We even gave Mr. Morin an iPad with our app on it. As you can see in the picture, Earnest is using the barebones of our Little Giant App (that same picture is in our presentation). After we presented, the rest of our Wednesdays consisted of additional research into our consulting projects. We tried our best to perfect them and make them as presentable as possible. Duncan, Drew, and I had worked on a survey for the student body a few weeks ago, and we implemented our numbers and results into our presentation.

On Thursday, the consulting projects were presented to Dr. Drury, Mr. Morin, Dean Jones, Jack Kellerman, and Logan Kleiman. I volunteered to help present my app along with Joey, Ben, and Max. The presentation was about 20 minutes with 25 minutes of questions. We talked about the numbers, the options for the future, and our final suggestions. I thoroughly enjoyed presenting and showing off our hard work. When Friday came around, we spent a few hours finalizing our slideshow, handouts, and application for our big presentation in Chicago the following week. Overall, I am very thankful for the experience and I am very excited for what is to come.



Steele ’20 Immersed in the World of Marketing

Weston Steele ’20 LABB Intern – This past week was a crash course in the world of marketing, and from segmentation to the 4 p’s, I feel somewhat proficient in marketing. I realized I had learned something after watching the Microsoft 2017 E3 press conference. When Mike Simmons visited us on Monday, he had us look at Microsoft’s mishandling of the release of the Xbox One. We analyzed how Microsoft mistook what their customers wanted, and failed to take their needs into account. Watching their press conference this year, it was clear to see that they are obsessed with their product, and they haven’t quite made that shift from just selling game consoles to selling entertainment. It’s sort of like the railroad industry vs. the transportation industry, and how railroads would be more successful if they expanded to branding themselves as transportation rather than just railroads.

The biggest thing I can take away from Mr. Simmons’ visit is the difference between selling “why?” and selling “what?” It’s important for businesses to tell the consumer why they are selling what they are selling, not just come out and say what they are selling. It’s not compelling to a consumer when the business is very straightforward, and doesn’t drive customers to make that purchase. It made me think about why I make the purchases I do, and what sort of products have great marketing and company appeal.

It was great to see two marketer’s opinions on the matter, and a quote from Roland Morin that stuck with me was “If you get 10 marketers in a room, you’ll get 12 opinions.” I think that’s why marketing is appealing to most, the fact that it is so very diverse, and that everyone has unique ideas. That’s why I’m attracted to the business world, because I believe for a business to be successful, it needs to have a multitude of diverse opinions flowing through it.

It’s been great to get a glimpse at all various aspects of business, and to see what drives a company to be successful. It’s feels like an opportunity to take risks in a safe environment, where there is no real fear of failure. I don’t feel afraid to experiment, and find new more efficient ways to perform tasks, and that has given me plenty of opportunity to expand my repertoire of skills. The feedback is fantastic as well, providing insight on how to improve my skills in communication, innovation, and participation within a group. I’m excited moving forward, and I’ve got a better idea of what I want to do as a career.

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.

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