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.

Stark ’19 “The Challenger Sale or the Challenger”

Steven Stark ’19 Archon Tech Strategies – Before I begin describing the past seven weeks of my internship, I would like to thank Wabash College and the Lilly Endowment for providing students like me this unique opportunity to work with companies like Archon Tech Strategies. This summer I joined another Wabash intern and fraternity brother, Billy Bernhardt, to work for Tony Unfried ’03 and be part of the Archon Tech Team. Archon Tech Strategies is an Incubator, a Platform, and an Accelerator. It was created to bring ideas to life, build businesses and empower entrepreneurs to follow their dreams. After understanding the many roles Tony takes on, I still cannot grasp how he does it all. Owning and running his businesses while helping others build theirs is truly inspiring to see.

With a week remaining in my internship, I reflect on what I have learned and what I can take with me moving forward in my professional career. During the first two weeks, I focused my efforts to really understand Tony’s companies and the niche markets his software appeals to. I read 2 books, SPIN Selling and The Challenger Sale, to help me understand what kind of seller I must be to succeed in this complex market. At the same time, Billy and I began the growth hacking process by researching and prospecting companies, connecting with key decision makers on LinkedIn, and recording potential leads on other websites. Then we created a custom and creative email campaign to market our new products to prospects and connect with already existing clients. This helped expand the top layer of the sales funnel which is extremely important in a small business. Next, Billy and I created a electronic form which included our custom sales pitch and scoping questions to start qualifying our leads. Finally, we started, in my opinion, the most rigorous but rewarding part of our internship, cold calling.

Cold Calling taught me more than I expected, which was not much to be honest. Because of the amazing resources Tony and Wabash provides, I learned how to effectively cold call by reaching out to key decision makers, then convincing them to take the time to listen to my pitch. This was more challenging than I originally thought, but quickly learned that it’s one of the most important skills I developed. I learned to adjust my sales pitch (slightly or a lot) based on the individual and how they responded to me. An example that happened numerous times was when the secretary or “gatekeeper” answered the phone. In those situations, I needed to adjust my sales pitch to get past them and talk with the person making the decision, otherwise, there was no point, wasting my time and theirs. This internship has taught me how to tackle difficult tasks, challenge myself and others as a professional, and overall has given me great insight regarding emotional intelligence and how it is used in the business world. Thank you, Archon Tech Strategies, thank you Tony, and thank you Wabash College for providing me the opportunity to experience all aspects of the sale process in real time. I have learned to appreciate these things and I encourage students to not waste an opportunity.


Lucas Bucina ’19 Indianapolis Film Festival – This summer I was fortunate enough to be one of the two interns at the Indy Film Festival from June 5 until July 28. Despite the film festival only lasting from July 13-23, Russell Berning and I had many tasks assigned for us to fulfill our time, week by week until the festival began.

The first task we had been assigned was to research and gather information about the film festival. This was in preparation for its 15th anniversary the following year, in 2018. Specifically, this entailed organizing a few large boxes containing several different types of newspapers over the last 14 years, including any information and ads regarding the film festival throughout its existence. Dan Moore had instructed us that this had been left previously by the former head director of the festival. Unfortunately, all of the newspaper articles were mostly disorganized and rarely marked with what pages mentioned the film festival in them. So Russell and I took it upon ourselves to split well over 100 different newspapers between each other. We read through the articles, identified which articles had ads, interviews with from board members or directors who had previously participated in the festival, or lists of movies playing in the festival for that year.

Some of the other projects we were assigned were to watch a list of the popular movies Dan had selected, which were going to be played at the festival this year. Russell and I were going to spend a lot of our time working at the ticket booth for the festival, to answer questions for customers and directors attending the festival. Watching the movies would also help us be able to suggest movies for people to watch when they were purchasing their movie tickets to any of the showings throughout the week. There was also a printable grade sheet we could use to grade the films we watched too. Our next task was to review and correct any mistakes in the 2017 film festival program before the final draft was to be released by NUVO, at the end of June. Some of the other tasks that had been assigned before the festival were some busy work for organizing and counting leftover supplies from the previous year, and shuttling directors to and from the airport to their hotels or the IMA, the location of the film festival.

As we approached the festival’s opening night, we had attended several training sessions for the volunteers participating in the festival, and delivering supplies from the Bohemian Opera Center, office location for the Indy Film Festival, to the IMA. Once the festival began, a typical 6-10-hour day the festival went from each day, would involve managing the ticket booth, working the projector for the films, coordinating pickups for directors from the airport, organizing merchandise, and setting up for the other several events that took place in the festival too. Overall, this experience was very rewarding to be a part of. This non-profit film festival offers a great contribution to bring hundreds of filmmakers and film lovers together to appreciate independent films that may not have the connections or money to make it on the big screen, such as Star Wars and Marvel Comic films.

This internship offered me a much different hands on experience, outside of the typical office job this summer. It had taught me how to improve my communication skills with customers and clients face to face, and how to gather and organize all of my research too. Words cannot describe how thankful I am that I was not only able to be a part of the largely growing Indy Film Festival this year but thanks to the Lily Endowment, I was also able to be a paid intern for a nonprofit organization this summer too.


Russell Berning ’19 Indianapolis Film Festival – I, along with Lucas Bucina, have been working with the Indianapolis Film Festival (IFF) this summer. It has been a great experience to be able to see all of the hard work and dedication that it takes to get a completely volunteer based event running.

Some of the main missions that we have been tasked with are assisting in the arrival and departures of filmmakers coming to the festival, getting together and distributing promotional materials, and making sure that the festival is running smoothly. In order to ensure that the IFF is steaming forward, there has to be someone manning the theater operations, box office, and the selling of merchandise. The person working the theater operations is the one working the soundboard as well and making sure that the movie is screening correctly. Being in charge of the box office means the person is at the front desk assisting people with buying their tickets and ensuring they are going to the right screening. One of the biggest lessons that I have learned is that even though there may be some minor setbacks, one must be able to think on their feet and find the best possible outcome. There have been a few kinks in the process of getting the IFF going, yet through deliberation and critical thinking, these problems were handled in a manner that worked best for everyone.

We always have to make sure that the viewers are happy with the entire experience at the film festival. This means having the best experience all the way from walking through the doors of the Indianapolis Museum of Art, purchasing tickets, sitting down in the theater, watching the production to departing from the IFF. Being able to communicate with the consumer and ensuring that they are happy with everything is hard to accomplish at times, yet is what the whole festival is contingent upon.

All of these lessons I’ve learned will be applicable in the fields of either marketing or sales. Both of these occupations are large on one to one interactions. However, without the Lilly Endowment, none of the experiences or lessons that I have learned would have been possible. I am more than grateful that I was one of the students selected to receive the endowment. Being able to work with the Indianapolis Film Festival has opened up my eyes on the process of what it takes to bring together a large scale event.

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.

Canter ’18 Analyzes Competitors’ Marketing Strategies to Better Assess Needs for Clients

Taylor Canter ’18 Blue Marketing – I am a marketing intern that focuses on graphic design for Blue Marketing in Crawfordsville, Indiana. I do a variety of things for them, from creating web graphics and advertisements, to shooting and editing videos. I assist with the management of 6 of our clients Facebook pages by creating graphics for them to post and scheduling when they will be posted. This has not only enabled me to explore my creativity in a professional setting, but also helped me greatly with my time management. In order to increase the presence of our clients in the social media realm, I have done extensive research analyzing the frequency and types of posts made by our competitors. This taught me much about the process of competitor analysis, which will be an important skill to have no matter where I end up after college. I have also dabbled in blog writing for our clients and us, which has allowed me to explore new creative territory aside from the Adobe creative cloud that I am using for the more visual forms of marketing. While this was not something that I had done before, it did not push me out of my comfort zone quite like the video shooting and editing. Composing shots and really delving into the specifics of Adobe Premiere are just two of the skills that I am thankful for acquiring as a result of this! An eye for composing aesthetic shots and general photography is a highly sought out skill in marketing and the video shooting has primed me for success in those regards.

On top of the visual skills I have been improving upon, shooting interviews also required me to think about all aspects of what I was filming including the content of the interviewees. My interpersonal skills have benefited from this as I have had to talk to people of all types throughout this interview process such as some farmers who are not necessarily used to being in front of a camera or being in a very social setting in general. In order to be able to produce a good video I had to talk through the interview process with the interviewees. Whether I needed them to stop fidgeting or speak in a more concise manner, learning to identify what would make for a better final product was definitely a new way of thinking for me that enhanced my ability to think about problems and projects from multiple perspectives. Not only have I been able to capitalize and improve upon my old skills, but I also have new ones to add to my portfolio that will greatly benefit me heading forward. I am looking to go into marketing and branding, so knowing as many aspects of the field as possible will certainly benefit my future. This internship and all of the skills I have gained from it would not have happened if it weren’t for the Lilly Endowment so I am very grateful for that.