Sunday, November 13, 2011


This week was the final week of my internship. At Princeton Sports, I sat down with the owner Mr. Alan Davis to have my exit interview. After going over all of the things that I had done for them over the past three weeks, I was impressed with what a difference I had made. The biggest shock for me, however, was how much responsibility I was given as only an intern. Alan said something to me that really resonated and will be my final lesson from this internship experience.

Lesson #13, give people a chance to excel.

Under proper supervision from the staff at Princeton Sports, I was able to help them and implement changes with their website, their organizational process, and their marketing tactics. I made suggestions for the website that were immediately changed. I was able to make some of these changes myself, and when I asked Alan why he felt so comfortable letting an outsider make all of these changes to such a tightly run operation, he told me that under the proper supervision, you need to give people the chance to excel.

To me, this meant that if you don’t give people the opportunity to show you what they’re capable of, you don’t know what you might be missing out on. If I hadn’t been given the opportunity to speak up and tell them what I thought should be changed, they would have been stuck with a website and a Facebook page that weren’t used to their full advantage. I was able to make so many good things happen at Princeton Sports, but only because the management there was able to push me and to listen to my ideas and allowed me to excel.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Thinking outside the box

I have been having a great time over the last few weeks at Princeton Sports. They have me working on projects that would seem meniall to the average eye, but are actually very important to the company. They had no reservations throwing me into their business questions and taking my opinion with all seriousness. I have to give them credit, they have really mastered my next lesson.

Lesson # 12, Having problems thinking outside the box? Talk to someone outside the box!

Sometimes when we have thrown ourselves so deep into a project or a task, we have problems with improving them. For example, we have grown so attached to the paint color that we painted our house with 10 years ago, and we wonder why we can’t sell our house. It takes a real estate agent to say “This paint color is hideous, no wonder.” It’s the same in business. Princeton Sports had me working on several tasks that they really needed an outside opinion on. For starters, they had me look at their website. Sometimes, as a company, we find it hard to see the problems in our own creations. This is when you really need to ask someone who has no idea what it looks like in your head. When they asked me to look at their website, I came back with several very constructive criticisms. First of all, their Facebook link was small, and barely recognizable as Facebook. They had charts on their website that listed the names of the brands they carry, but as an outsider I had no idea what these brands were. In reality, we recognize the golden arches before we recognize the name McDonalds. I told them that people would recognize logos more than they would recognize the names in regular old fashioned type. They had me go on their website and change it immediately.

They also had me create pages for some of the services they offer. As insiders, they have so much knowledge that it’s hard to express what facts are extremely important. They had me, an outsider, examine some of their processes in action and create pages from scratch, with only the brief knowledge of the main points that I picked up on. This allowed me to create pages for the average customer with no previous knowledge of custom bike or ski boot fits.

The lesson that I leave you with today is, when you’re wondering what you can do to improve on your college essay, or to improve on your project, ask someone with a completely unbiased opinion. Not only will they give you really good advice, but it will be constructive. When you can’t think outside the box, ask someone who’s outside the box.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

The Art of the Process

This week I started my internship at Princeton Sports. The reason I love this job is because, for the first time throughout this internship, not only am I learning from them, but they are learning from me. The people at Princeton Sports saw an opportunity in me to learn about Organization. I’m going to give you all a lesson in something I like to call “The Process.”

Lesson #11, Have a process

Every single thing you do, whether you think about it or not, has a process. When you get out of bed in the morning, you have a process. When you do your work, you have a process. When you make food, you have a process. When you consider yourself to be unorganized, it is most likely because you are lacking in a process. Whether it is not being able to put things where they belong because nothing has a place, or not being able to keep track of your schedule, it is all due to a lack in process.

The biggest problem is when people have a process, but they just can't follow it.  When you don’t have the time, things get thrown around and misplaced and the process doesn’t happen. At Princeton Sports, this seemed to be a slight problem in their hold room. Holdings go here, damages go here, snowboards and skis go here. The problem was that they have a hard time following the process and it becomes unorganized. 

So on behalf of Princeton Sports, I would like to offer you all some suggestions on how to keep yourself organized. Make a habit of giving everything a place...and putting them there! The more you can keep the counter clean, the more likely it is that it will stay that way. Sometimes messes just pile up, and the bigger they get, the more we let them go and are not likely to fix them. Also, figure out what works for you. In high school everyone gets an agenda book and NO ONE uses it, but also EVERYONE looses track of their homework. Try to find a process for remembering that works for you. For me in middle school it was writing things on my arm and my hands. This isn’t healthy, so I figured out that I can keep track of my assignments with sticky notes instead. Also, whenever my dad asks me to empty the dishwasher in an hour, I tell him to WRITE IT DOWN or else I will never remember. This is another great tip. I’m very partial to sticky notes, but paste them on the television and your kids will never forget to do their chores... they might just choose to ignore them.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

What Baby Boom?

Last week I sat down with the president of the Columbia Association, Phil Nelson for a short Q & A so I could get a feel for what it is like to run a large business. Columbia Association is a large non profit organization that is in the field of property management. I got to find out what types of challenges he faces on a daily basis,  plus long term goals and achievements.

lesson #10: With great power comes great aging populations.

I was surprised to hear from Mr. Nelson that one of the biggest challenges he faces on a daily basis is the fact that Columbia is planning for a huge aging population. He gave me a scary statistic that implied that by 2035 a majority of households will be childless. This is due to the aging baby boomer population. He explained to me that right now, the population pyramid looks like just that, a pyramid, with the number of younger people on the bottom, middle aged in the middle, and elderly at the top. By 2035 the population pyramid will turn into a population cylinder, with a decreasing amount of youth on the bottom.

His biggest problem with this statistic is that Columbia association now is set up for families and youth. There are 20 some pools and over 100 tot lots. What happens to Columbia Association when the majority of the city is elderly? Will they need that many pools? Will they need that many tot lots? Will the gyms need different equipment? What facilities will need to change in order to support the needs of the elderly.

Columbia Association also faces a problem with large turnover in population. They currently face a huge turnover rate in people coming and leaving Columbia. They have to figure out what attracts people to Columbia, and how to deal with the outrageous cost of living in this area. This also means that people don’t know what is and is not a Columbia Association facility. They have to figure out how to tell people what they’re actually getting for their money when they pay $1,500 in annual dues to the Columbia Association. These are all valid questions that may only be partially, if at all, answered. But Phil Nelson’s job is to plan ahead for the future, and to look for oncoming problems that come with a great aging population.

Now you’re thinking how does this apply to me and you? Well for starters, if you’re looking for a job, there’s an increasing demand for elder care. Old age homes, retirement communities, and nursing, are fields that are especially growing. Or, you could be more creative. I, myself, came up with the idea for a business centered around helping elderly with everyday things, like organizing, bill paying, consulting on big decisions, being a doctor buddy, all things that elderly people need to do but might not always have someone to do it for them. No matter what business you are in, you absolutely need to take into account the growing elderly population when you’re either doing marketing, or figuring out what services you need to be providing.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Passion V Professionalism

Today at work I was talking to Rene, the woman who runs the Teen center. She was telling me about some of the trouble that kids have been involved in in the past either out in the community or in school. In occupations involving young people, it can be really hard for some of them to distinguish their place in the issue, because they feel such a passion for the work they do and for the kids they help. Sometimes, you have to take a step back and look at the issue, which brings me to my next lesson.

Lesson #9, There is a fine line between passion and professionalism.

No matter how strong your feelings are about an issue, you need to handle it as professionally as possible. The main thing they stress at the teen center is that they can’t do the parents’ jobs for them. When kids get in trouble in school, everyone’s first reaction is to march into the school and demand to know what happened, and that it can’t be my child’s fault. As head of the teen center, Rene just can’t do that. That doesn’t help the child learn from their actions. What they have to do it sit down with the parents and give them advice on what to do, and how they should approach the issue at home. Then, when the kids come back to the center, they need to diffuse any issues that could arise through the kids and have a talk with the child to make sure they know what they did and that no matter what, getting in trouble with the school is not acceptable behavior.

When you work in such a passionate line of work you can’t let your emotions overwhelm you. You have to keep a cool head and approach the issue professionally. You need to really think about what is best for the teens and how they can best get a learning experience out of the issues that arise.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Stop and Smell the Roses

This week I started work at the Columbia Association’s Teen Center. I can say right off the bat that going there was a completely different experience. The pace was a lot slower than at Super Book Deals, where I always had something to do at all times. I walked into the Teen Center and was greeted by a large amount of teenagers.

I was so scared-- I literally had NOTHING in common with these children. The first thought to run through my mind was Whoa, I’m not a babysitter. Give me work to do and I’ll do it, but It’s a waste of time to sit around and do nothing.

The next day I went in and there still wasn’t as much work for me to do there, but I actually had a purpose to interact with these teenagers this time. I had to make them an event calendar and they needed to tell me what they wanted on it. I still feel like I spent 3 hours doing something that could have taken me 20 minutes, but that’s besides the point.

Lesson # 8, uncomfortable situations = learning environments

I had to talk to the kids and decided that I was going to try and bridge the culture gap by asking questions about what they liked to do and where they would like to go. Then I started finding out there is a wide need for math homework assistance. I started to help with math homework and while they were learning from me I was learning from them.

I still feel like the environment is a much slower pace than Super Book Deals, which I don’t necessarily like because I’m a very fast paced worker, but sometimes if you stop and smell the roses you will learn something in a place you weren’t looking.

Friday, September 30, 2011

The Y Factor

Today was my last day at work for Super Book Deals. I sat down with my boss today, and he said, “You’ve done so much to help us to accomplish our goals over the past three weeks, now I want to help you accomplish yours.” My ultimate goal out of the whole scholarship experience is to end up with a job, so he had me print out my resume. I came back later in the day and we had a nice long talk about what a resume should look like.

Lesson #7, SO WHAT?

As John read through my resume, through every single bullet point he replied with “So What? Meticulously Organized and excellent Multitasker. So What? 3.5 GPA. So What? Why should I care that you have any of these things?”

After the initial heart dropping that comes with all constructive criticism, I asked, “because they mean that I am qualified?”

“No. None of these bullet points tell me that you are qualified. They tell me that you have done tasks. They do not tell me what you have learned from them, if you even learned from them, or how they will help you do the job you are applying for. You need to explain. You have all of the greatest bullet points that you could have on a resume, you have this scholarship, you run your own business, but it doesn’t tell me why that applies to me or the job you are applying for.”

“Consistently met high sales goals at a high end furniture company. SO WHAT?! Why do I care? You need to tell me that you met these goals by using your sales training to close sales! Work Experience at 3 companies for scholarship. SO WHAT?!?! This is a huge point, you got HANDS ON work experience doing Marketing, the job you are applying for, and actually helped the company achieve goals. THIS is what I want to hear when I am looking at a resume. Don’t assume I’m going to connect the dots. Make it loud and clear how YOUR skills will benefit ME.”

So to all of you job applicants out there, and there are many of you, remember that you need to look at your resume as if you are the interviewer. Why do I care? Tell them loud and clear what they want to know and why YOU are the one they should hire.