With every new experience comes a leap of faith into the unknown. Some leaps can be bigger than others, but regardless, there’s always a feeling of free fall when you leave what is familiar and leap towards something new. My big leap this summer was saying yes to a 12-week-long Brand Immersion Internship Program for Whirlpool Corporation in Benton Harbor, MI. This “yes” led to a summer full of opportunities and was followed by a series of yeses that allowed me to meet amazing people, see new places and learn immensely throughout the entire 12 weeks.
Saying yes isn’t always easy; I said yes to Whirlpool Corporation with a lot of unknowns and uncharted territory looming with this decision. With this opportunity, I would be relocated 800 miles away from my home and college town, to a place I had never been, with people I had never met, to do a job I had minimal knowledge about. As daunting as this all sounds, I can admit that prior to coming, most of my feelings were of excitement. The idea of relocation was actually a draw for me as I was eager to explore a new place and create new relationships. Any other fears I had were quieted by both my college professor and the Whirlpool UConn alumni who all spoke highly of Whirlpool’s Brand Immersion Program.
From my first day I could already tell that this summer would be overflowing with great opportunities. During orientation we were able to hear from past interns who told us how to make the most of our time here, to do as much exploring as we could and were even visited by Marc Bitzer, the CEO, who spoke about the company culture. In my first meeting with my boss I was presented with the option to attend The Pacific Coast Builder Conference, a house building trade show out in San Francisco, in order to move forward with one of the projects I was assigned. I almost jumped out of my seat when I exclaimed yet another monumental “yes!” for my summer. A few weeks later while I was packing my bags to head out west, I felt confident in the strides I would be taking at this upcoming conference.The fact that the company was investing in me, a humble intern, by sending me out to San Francisco, motivated me to put my networking skills into overdrive and make the most of my time there.
Although traveling to San Francisco was a big yes that added to my internship experience, I did my best to continue this “Yes Man” mindset throughout my day to day in the office. There were always opportunities for me to step away from my desk and immerse myself in a learning experience. Any time I was invited to sit in on a meeting, attend a lunch & learn session, or tour a wide range of Whirlpool’s facilities, my answer was always yes. It was through these opportunities that I learned all about marketing agency work, how to better present myself on LinkedIn and what it feels like to sit in during the production of a commercial.
The times that I said yes are what allowed me to make the most of my time here, but the times that Whirlpool said yes to me are what showed me what Whirlpool was all about. Almost every employee I set up a meeting with – whether it be about my projects or to hear about their personal experience and advice – would say yes and take the time to meet with me. When I was squeezed into schedules with meetings on top of other meetings, I knew that my projects were something that mattered to the company and my development was what mattered to the employees. I learned fairly quickly that my voice and opinion truly mattered. If I ever wanted even more out of the internship program than what was already offered, my amazing program manager, Hollister Barker, was all ears for suggestions and would set up whatever programming the interns requested.
Even more so, the memories I made outside the office are what made it a wholesome summer. I didn’t let my goal of exploring new places, meeting new people, and learning as much as I could stop at the walls of my Riverview office. Since I spent the entire summer living with 90+ interns in an apartment-style college dorm, there were plenty of opportunities for me to say yes to spending time with the other interns. Agreeing to drinks at a rooftop bar with girls I had never met is what led me to meeting the girls I would end up spending most of my summer with. Inserting myself into a volleyball game with people I had only spoken a few words to led to many more sunset games throughout the summer. Saying yes to staying in Chicago for the weekend after touring World of Whirlpool and to a music festival in Detroit is what allowed me explore two cities I had never been to. Without the urge to say yes to as many plans as possible, most of my summer would have been spent inside my apartment instead of making memories with people who are going to make saying goodbye pretty hard.
As I start to wrap up my time here and reflect, I am so happy that I took the leap that brought me to these 12 weeks with Whirlpool. Eric Schmidt couldn’t have said it better, “Yes is how you get your first job, and your next job, and your spouse and even your kids. Even if it’s a bit edgy, a bit out of your comfort zone, saying yes means you will do something new, meet someone new and make a difference.” Yes is how I made the most of my time here and I am so thankful of all the people that said yes to me along the way.