My internship consisted of a five and a half month position with the Witten Farm Market and Greenhouse. As part of my responsibilities, I worked in an intermediate leadership position working at Smith Farm Market in Bexley Ohio overseeing seasonal staff and the routine duties of the market. I implemented a Reusable Bag Program by researching invoices, conducting research on plastic and cardboard materials, designing marketing advertisements, contacting various suppliers and recycling agencies and performing cost benefit analysis to advise employers on allocation of funds. I shadowed every level of management within the company including farmers, market managers, regional managers and the CEO of the company. I attended both leadership and managerial conferences for professional development. The Witten Farm Market owns 22 market locations over the states of Ohio and West Virginia, so part of my duties included visiting the other locations.
I was first introduced to the Witten Farm Market and Greenhouse when I met Katie Searles and Mallory Bailey at the career fair for the College of Food, Agriculture and Environmental Sciences. What immediately caught my attention and left a lasting impression on me was the the value and genuine interest they seemed to have for each student who approached their booth. I remember thinking “Wow, I really feel comfortable with these people.”
Their friendliness and kindness left such an impression on me that I applied for a job on the Witten Farm Market website before my internship interview just in case I did not get a position as an intern. During my interview, I remember feeling comfortable and able to express myself to Katie and Mallory, like they really did want to get to know me further. Being involved in the Second-Year Transformational Experience Program, I had the means to stay in Columbus last summer. I accepted this internship because I felt that this would be a positive working environment where I would be able to learn and grow personally due to the support and respect I felt the company had for me.
Looking back, this support and respect was crucial for me during this summer as it was my first away from home and one of the hardest of my entire life. It’s important for me to keep my personal life from affecting my work performance but often this summer I struggled. My boss, Mallory, was always incredibly kind and understanding during these instances and I was again reminded of how much Witten’s seemed to care about me as an individual and those memories of compassion will stick with me for the rest of my life. As director of a student organization here on campus, I try to implement approachability and kindness so that students feel comfortable coming to me with issues and then having compassion and empathy for them whenever they do, as I watched Mallory do all summer. Learning from my regional manager Katie and Mallory has changed the way I lead others permanently. I’ve since come to find that directing others can often be a lot like interacting with customers. People do not always want to follow rules or orders, but it’s important to always remain gracious, have patience and smile.
One of the biggest things I learned this summer was knowledge about myself. Attitude is everything and I learned how important it is to display enthusiasm constantly when around customers and fellow co-workers. Seeing Julie’s passion–the CEO of the Witten’s–for her work made me realize how important attitude is in a management position and how it relates to an entire organization, everything is trickle down. I learned that I was a perfectionist, something I have never considered myself to be. I have always thought of myself as very Type B because I am flexible and amiable. What I didn’t realize was how difficult it was for me to watch others perform work that I knew I could easily do. Last spring, I would never have guessed how difficult I would find it to work through others. There were many times this summer where I had to let another employee do a task that I knew I could do better. But I discovered it was more important to stand back and allow that employee to learn on their own than to hover. I was of the mindset that I was asking others to do work that I could easily do and sometimes I felt guilty. But I’ve realized since, that when you’re in a leadership position, your responsibilities are redefined and your job is no longer to simply get a task completed but to complete that task through another person by creating a relationship in which there is mutual trust, respect and kindness, an environment wherein both parties grow. There were many times this summer where my perfectionist tendencies worked against me and I am still learning how to balance working efficiently yet thoroughly. I learned this summer how much satisfaction I derive from a job well done but I also learned that that pride in my work can hinder me as well by slowing me down and that there is a compromise there that I am still striving to find.
A a result of interning for the Witten Farm Market and Greenhouse, I have realized that I ultimately want to work in management. I love working with people, I value relationships and environments such as this one wherein individual growth is valued and supported by management. The workplace environment created at Witten’s is the only kind that I want to work in, where people are excited to go into work each day and it will be what I am looking for in every job interview I have post-college as I search for employment. I have learned management and leadership skills that have changed who I am as a person and how I operate in the various positions I hold on Ohio State’s campus. I couldn’t be more thankful for the experiences I have under my belt after working for the Witten Farm Market and Greenhouse.