Valuable Experiences Close to Home │ Kelsey Olson’s Internship
Students travel far and wide—often out of the state or even outside the country—to pursue internship opportunities. However, recent MBU graduate Kelsey Olson experienced her internship at her local Bath and Body Works, where she has worked for the past four years. With a degree in English with a minor in Business, Kelsey was able to apply both the business and writing principles she had learned at MBU in a familiar setting.
Though Kelsey chose the English degree when she came to college, she didn’t pursue a business minor until her junior year, so an internship was imperative for her to learn the skills necessary to complete her degree.
“I was really excited to work in a business setting and to get to use the skills I learned in my minor. I hadn’t had as much time with that as the average person spends on their minor,” she says.
Instead of taking another business class, Kelsey chose to do the internship in order to fulfill the requirements for her Business minor. She knew that the real-life application of her skills would benefit her as she prepared to use them after college.
“I thought that the hands-on experience of an internship would be more beneficial to me,” she says. “It was more flexible, and there weren’t as many deadlines. My advisor for my Business minor, Dr. Drost, enabled me to make the experience my own.”
Business at Bath and Body Works
Since Kelsey had worked at Bath and Body Works for three and a half years at the time of her internship, she already maintained a well-established relationship with her employers. This connection allowed her to effectively shadow the store managers and observe high-level decision-making. She mainly conducted her normal duties as a store associate, but she also became more involved with store management as well.
“We have a Store Leadership Team (SLT), which consists of the head manager, an assistant manager, and four keyholder managers,” Kelsey explains. “They all report to the district manager. I got to be more involved with their conversations, as well as the emails they were sending back and forth.”
“I was more in-tune with what was happening on the district level and the state level as far as future plans for the store,” Kelsey shares.
In addition to shadowing the store managers, Kelsey experienced an unexpected change when the head manager suddenly quit at one point during the summer. She recalls that the manager’s resignation prompted the managerial team to step up and work through the vacancy.
“It was tough for the store,” she remembers. “But as far as doing an internship and observing management, it was a valuable experience for me to see their flexibility in that way.”
Kelsey also discovered that she was the only person on the SLT team who possessed a management background and who had taken business and management classes. She knew business terms and used them in her interactions with the other managers. It also allowed her to apply principles from her classroom learning in real-life situations.
Textbook Principles to Real Life Situations
During her internship at Bath and Body Works, Kelsey actively used management strategies she had learned in her classes. One specific application arose out of an incident that had occurred within the leadership team.
“Another manager caused a conflict in our store after the head manager quit,” she recalls. “Through this, we learned about conflict resolution. I realized that being in a real-life situation isn’t as easy as reading a textbook.”
Kelsey also applied her organizational leadership skills in how she worked with management. Being able to observe a front-line management situation enabled her to flesh out the knowledge she had learned in classes like Principles of Management.
The English Application
In addition to the management skills, she had applied to her internship, Kelsey also used the writing abilities she gained through her English major to document her experiences.
“Every week I had to write a summary of what I had done the week prior and what management had done,” she says. “I had to write about good observations—things that were going really well—as well as the things that could use improvement. Being an English major, I was used to writing papers all the time, so that was really helpful.”
Kelsey also wrote three papers at the end of her internship, and her English background helped her in that area. In addition, she benefitted from the more practical skills she learned as well, such as time management and the ability to interact with people.
A New Appreciation
Through her internship, Kelsey learned several valuable lessons and walked away with a new understanding of business and how it impacted her workplace. Perhaps one of the most memorable elements of her internship was the new respect she had for her managers.
“[I gained] a real respect for what the managers are doing at our store—the things they are doing for us behind the scenes,” she says. “That was huge.”
Kelsey learned how to work under pressure and keep up with conflicts in real-time. Taking the time to sort through a theoretical conflict in a classroom setting proved to be much different from working out an issue on the spot, as Kelsey soon realized.
“[I learned] how to deal with real-life situations in real-time,” she explains. “When someone speaks to you, you have to be ready for that and give an answer. It forced me to learn how to deal with conflict.”
Throughout the summer, Kelsey also maintained her walk with God and grew spiritually through her experiences. As she dealt with conflict and faced tricky situations, Kelsey learned to lean on God for strength and to draw upon her Christian principles as she communicated with others. She set a Godly example for her co-workers and the customers she interacted with. Even when she dealt with rude customers, she strived to present a Christ-like attitude in response.
“Especially with customers, I had to maintain that Christlikeness—I had to maintain positivity [in order to] be a light,” Kelsey explains. “When people are watching you, especially knowing your testimony—that’s an area that I really had to be strong in. I had to lean into Christ and pray for that strength.”
At times, Kelsey would find herself praying even as she spoke with customers, asking God to give her the right words to say in that situation. She would also pray for guidance in handling the demanding situations that she faced.
“I also had to lean into God’s wisdom and not my own,” she says. “I had to realize that I’m not the one who knows best here. God was prepared even when I wasn’t, and I need to ask what He wants from this situation.”
Looking to the Future
At the beginning of the summer, Kelsey had planned to accept a job in August that would allow her to travel and write. Due to a change in plans, however, Kelsey decided to accept another job position close to home, while still working at Bath and Body Works. Through her internship, she grew closer with her managers and her co-workers, and she decided to stay at Bath and Body Works.
“I have better relationships with these people,” Kelsey says. “These are my friends—not just my co-workers. I also have a deeper appreciation for the work everyone does there after spending so much time with management.”
The Value of an Internship
Kelsey found her place close to home at Bath and Body Works, putting her business skills effectively into practice. Through her internship, Kelsey discovered her love for people and her ability to serve as an example of Christ in a lost world, all the while finding fulfillment in what God had directed her to do.
“I would say the biggest value of my internship was witnessing what we learned in class being applied in real life,” Kelsey asserts. “If I hadn’t done an internship, it wouldn’t have been as easy for me to recognize those principles, but now I’ve lived it.”
For more information on internships and their benefits, click here.