For the past month, I have been telling all of my family and friends I was going to be exploring my career through an externship. They had no idea what an externship was, so I had to explain it to them. An externship is a week long opportunity that Marian University provides for freshman students to gain more experience in their particular career field. This helps students like me get a better understanding of what it is truly like to work in the “real world”. Externships do not guarantee students job or do not pay students to participate in one. It simply provides a learning experience in a specific field of study. At Marian University, I am majoring in Business Administration and minoring in Athletic Coaching.
For a week I got to explore Drexel Building Supply in Campbellsport. Drexel provided learning experience in their business fields, such as finance, sales, marketing, design, merchants, sales and estimating. These different departments gave me a better understanding of what they do daily. I chose Drexel because it will help me gain more insight about the business field and it will allow me to ask questions with professional team members who have experience in their field.
Throughout the first day, I quickly learned that Drexel was all about supplying happiness to their customers, vendors, and team members. Everyone at Drexel was welcoming and friendly. One of the first places we got to stop was with Drexel’s finance department. I had the opportunity to communicate with Amanda DeRuyter and Alicia Enright. Through their daily work they use important skills such as communication, accuracy, and precision. Everything matters in finance, and if the end of the day balance is off by five cents that is a huge deal and it is important to find out where and what happened to the five cents. I learned that finance careers have a lot of responsibility and accountability on their shoulders. Amanda gave good advice, “go wherever your path leads you and when looking for a job look at what the job entails, but most importantly work with people that you like.” I will keep this advice in mind when I will be applying to jobs in the future. Another lesson that I took away is that it is okay to make mistakes but learn from those mistakes. I should ask questions if I do not understand something or got something wrong, and I should use my team members as a resource. Another thing that I got to witness was Nick Damico, known as Rocky, work. As I was watching him, I noticed that he was interrupted a lot with phone calls or customers and had multiple tasks going on at once. The biggest advice he gave me was “prioritize the most important items to the least, it is going to save you a lot of time and you will be more efficient.” This advice is the best advice that I received because if I would not have known that; I could be doing something that is not important instead of spending time working on something that is on top of my list.
The second day, I met with the marketing, design, and the merchants of Drexel. Our first stop was marketing with Connor Kissinger. Connor is in charge of how the logo looks, Drexel’s clothing, social media, and events. I learned how they market their service, his main responsibilities, and his main project he is working on–the Expo. I learned the steps of planning a big event. Connor’s job entails a lot of little projects like going out to the community and talking about Drexel, managing Drexel’s website, keeping social media updated about the company, and contacting multiple people. He also works on bigger projects like events. As he talked through the process I learned to always confirm with clients and vendors to make sure everyone is on the same page. Also, it is necessary to make sure everything looks nice and benefits the vendors and customers.
The next person I visited was Kevin Soyk, the head of the design department. He showed me the process that customers take when building their own home. The biggest take away that I learned from him was everything matters whether it is how tall the ceiling is or the location of the land to how many bedrooms a customer wants. After Kevin, we talked with the merchants, Andy and Eric. I was not sure what a merchant did or what it entails. Andy and Eric talked about how they buy inventory to keep their lumber yards stocked and counting inventory. They showed me how they track their inventory on trains and showed us how to purchase inventory.
Third day was all about learning about doors, millwork, flooring, and windows. During our experience at doors and millwork I learned a lot of good advice. They stated, “when you are at work and it gets busy or when a conflict stirs up just keep a level head. Do not get to worked up about the little things you can not control.” By keeping this in the back of my head and saying to myself, remember you only control the things that I can control will help a lot. This advice will save me stress. A skill that the doors and millwork team members use a lot is keeping a high communication with others in the business.
The next stop was to the flooring department. The flooring department uses skills such as organization and time management. In the sales department for flooring I learned that they travel a lot so time management is a huge part of their daily skills used. Organization is an important part because there are a lot of things going on at once. Another key component of going into sales is product knowledge. “To be a good sales person building relationships and product knowledge are key to success,” advice was given by Vern. Another part of sales is having stress because if you do not sell anything you are not making money. The opposite of being stressed is to have fun. The windows department sure taught me to have fun! Making sure there is a little fun at work is always good. Having fun helps people enjoy their job and it makes the day go faster. On a serious note, their job entails paying attention to every detail because it matters. As I look for a career in the business field I will be keeping this in mind because some jobs might be more detail orientated than others. Throughout the day I learned great advice, witnessed sales team members helping customers, and how to resolve conflicts.
Our last day here at Drexel I talked to the estimating and cabinetry team. During our time with the estimating team we learned how they figure out how many pieces of material that they need for the house. I also learned how their program works and all the details they have to pay attention to. Estimating careers do a lot of tedious work. On the other side of things, the cabinetry department designs and creates models of kitchens, bathrooms, and laundry rooms. I talked with Jackie Oelke and she showed me how to design a kitchen and we started on a laundry room. As her schedule is busy with clients, job sites, traveling to different display centers to find the new trends, she . She is one of the most organized person I have seen. I learned from Jackie to time block certain hours of the day to do certain projects. She also suggests using a calendar to keep main events or meetings. Cabinetry was one of my favorite places that I stopped at because they do a lot of different stuff everyday.
I want to personally thank Drexel Building Supply for having this externship opportunity. By doing this externship, it gave me an awesome experience and learned about many different departments of what they do and got great feedback. Without Drexel providing this opportunity I would not have known what the different departments do on a daily basis. I met with awesome team members who supplied happiness throughout the week and could not thank them enough!