Making The Most From The Unexpected

April 17, 2018

I had a plan.  It was the spring semester of my sophomore year.  I decided to major in accounting, had good grades and wanted to begin figuring out my next steps and career directions by obtaining an internship.  I knew getting an internship for the summer as a sophomore can be more challenging, but this was my plan.  

Initially, my goal was to obtain an internship with a small accounting firm and participate in one or more of the leadership programs offered by the big four accounting firms.  This would be a great way to gain exposure to a professional environment and help further my understanding of accounting practices.  

Rejection and Re-Direction
However, I was unable to find an internship that fit the plan.  Furthermore, after interviewing for the leadership program at PwC, I was not selected; on to plan B.  I decided to work two jobs over the summer and in addition, take an online summer course to further my reach toward 150 credits and be CPA eligible by December 2019.  

The first job was at Lowe's and the second was for a small construction company called Streamline Remodeling.  Working in both jobs gave me an entirely new perspective of the operational structure of companies and helped me further develop important skills that will surely be beneficial in my accounting career.

Team Work and Communication
Lowe's is a $60 billion corporation and one of the largest home-remodeling retailers in the world.  I was hired and trained as a Flooring Specialist and introduced to a team of people that made up the flooring department.  Weekly activities with the department had a significant impact on developing my ability to work in teams.

To ensure the flooring department was in order, members had to complete their assigned tasks and then communicate with one another to ensure nothing was overlooked.   We also needed to be responsive to our customers and their needs.  The job also served to boost my communication skills, something I realize now I needed to improve.  

To the credit of my team, there is a skill in effectively explaining the range of product options to the customer, walking them through the installation process and leaving them comfortable and confident in their choices and with choosing Lowe's as their retailer.  

Admittedly, this experience seems far from the goal of working in a small accounting firm. But the opportunity to improve my team-working and communication skills was a huge benefit that should pay dividends for me later in college and afterward.

Construction Lessons
My second job was with a construction company called Streamline Remodeling. My father and grandfather worked in the construction industry most of their lives. So, no one in my family is afraid of hard work.

The job presented me the opportunity to work on a variety of projects throughout the summer including roofing, painting, framing, siding, and finished carpentry. But now after two years at Stonehill, I also had the ability to appreciate and gain insights on the operation of a construction company. I worked closely with my boss and was able to learn the necessary steps in obtaining building permits and working with building inspectors to ensure there were no delays during construction.

Better Organized
Also, I had to meet with various subcontractors and vendors. This helped better my organizational skills. There were also times throughout the summer when the company operated inefficiently due to poor planning. For example, there were some days we would go back and forth to Home Depot three or four times to get supplies. What a waste of time. This could have been easily avoided with some better project planning.  

A major difference between working for Lowe's and Streamline was organization. Lowe's set and enforced rules to ensure business operations would run smoothly. It made employee schedules two weeks in advance and used time clocks to keep track of employee hours.

Streamline really needed to learn some of these operational standards to enhance its effectiveness and profitability.

More Responsible and Time-Efficient
My summer experiences helped me grow personally and professionally in many ways.  However, my biggest achievement was becoming more responsible and more efficient with my time.  At my two jobs, I would work a combined 65 hours a week.  My routine often started at 7am to 2pm when I would then go to Lowe's and work until 9 or 10 pm.  I also worked every Saturday and Sunday at Lowe's.  

Oh, and yes, I did take that course, choosing to study a course in history at Stonehill that met twice a week during July.  Was it worth it?  I believe so.

The experience helped me realize the value of education -- whether it occurs inside or outside the classroom.  I am looking forward to my junior year and participation in Beta Alpha Psi.  I will start developing a new plan for next summer as soon as possible.

Marinelli's Article appeared in the Fall 2017, Volume 7, Issue 1 of the Corinthian Column, Stonehill College Mu Omega Chapter of Beta Alpha Psi Newsletter.