Twice as Nice
by Jessica Saturley, MBA '13 (7/26/12)
Taking on two summer internship projects with Vermont food companies has been a challenge—different businesses, different management styles, different coworkers—but when I look back on everything I’ve learned, I can’t imagine having it any other way.
Back in February and March of 2012, when my fellow SGE students and I were spending considerable time anxious about what we were going to do for our summer internships, I was lucky enough to receive two offers from Vermont-based companies involved in the local foods movement. The projects were both interesting, both companies had promising futures, and both were flexible about the duration and start-times for their projects. It was pleasantly easy to simply arrange the timing of the projects so that I could do both: five weeks with an ice cider company in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont, and five weeks with a smoked meats producer outside of Burlington.
The reality of actually completing two five-week projects in a row has been, predictably, somewhat less simple than accepting the two offers. The biggest challenge has been adjusting to two very different workplaces in such a brief time. The first week or two of any internship can be difficult; you’re settling into a new routine, learning the habits and personalities of your coworkers, and grappling with the scope and purpose of your project. But five-week projects leave little time for adjustment, and I have been incredibly grateful for the training Johnson has given me in quickly bringing focus and structure to nebulous projects.
Office view in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont.
Despite the challenges, working on two different projects this summer has given me an incredible variety of experiences that I can’t imagine giving up. I’ve had the opportunity to compare and contrast different management styles, and to observe how various forms of support and encouragement can be most effective in creating a productive workplace. And rather than spend my summer focusing on one single area, I’ve applied lessons from almost all of my core classes at Johnson while completing a sales project and an operations project. During the first half of the summer I worked closely with a successful entrepreneur while developing a sales and marketing strategy in urban areas for a new product. The second half of the summer I have been busy building a cost model that reflects costs associated with a brand new manufacturing plant.
Practical experience of such breadth and depth can be hard to come by, particularly during the short period of summer internships. I’m grateful to my host companies for their trust in me, and I’m grateful to the Johnson students and faculty who taught me everything I needed to know to make the most of this amazing experience.