Week 8: The End

My last post on this blog! I still can’t really wrap my head around the fact that these 8 weeks are already over and that I won’t be making that drive back up to Livingston again next Monday (even though my grant is all used up and I wouldn’t have the gas money to get there!).
My last week was compressed into just one day, and it was quite a day. Our graphic designer, Pluty, spent the majority of the day working on designs for various posters and pamphlets for our biggest customer. Though I wasn’t officially observing his time with the client, I could hear everything from my desk and learned a bit about what it takes to deal with customers who insist on having things their way, even when they don’t necessarily know what they’re talking about. Pluty managed to keep his cool through the entire meeting, which I’m sure was not the easiest task.
As a bit of a farewell to the Facebook page I created for MMP, I spent a while filtering through the Intuit Small Business Blog for articles that Paul can post in the future. It really is a great resource for anyone in the business world, with articles covering Human Resources, Marketing, Finances, current Trends and Local happenings. I gave Paul a walk through on how to edit the page, add photos, and post statuses so that the page can continue to grow even while I’m not there to keep up with it. I’m sure I won’t be able to resist checking in on it every once in a while, and it’ll be interesting to see how it develops!  The experience I’ve gained this summer at MMP has been invaluable, and I’m sure it will be useful to me in the future as I strive to become a working professional.

Week 7: A Little Review

Last week was a combination of accounting and sales. Monday was spent once again plugging in numbers from bank and credit card statements into QuickBooks. I felt much more comfortable with the program than I had previously and was confident that I was entering everything correctly. It helped, of course, that I was doing the exact same thing over and over again. Accounting is obviously a very important field, and I’m glad to have had the experience in it, especially with QuickBooks, but I can say with certainty that it is not a field I see myself in as a professional—I definitely need more variety in whatever work I do to stay interested, engaged, and motivated.
On Wednesday when Paul said we were going to do another day of sales, I panicked a little bit. I figured out during week five that cold calling is really a job for someone who has no fear of rejection and unwavering self confidence, and that it’s not really my strength. But instead of cold calling, we had an appointment with a current client, a local dentist. Observing this meeting was a valuable experience: I saw my boss chat with (and discover commonalities with) the dentist’s assistant, capitalize on opportunities with the client, and even lock in some personal business with one of the office secretaries. This meeting made it very clear that face to face interactions are still extremely important—while all of that could have been done by email, by meeting in person Paul came away with more business than he would have otherwise. It was interesting to see the sales field from this perspective, and made me think that it may not be something I should rule out completely.

Week 6: Fun with Accounting

Another week, another area of the business world! My boss put his faith in my less than spectacular numbers mind to let me experience how accounting comes into play for a small business. Math (and really any subject that has to do with numbers) makes me dizzy, so even though I did fairly well in my accounting class during the Fall ’11 semester I was a little uneasy, especially since I was dealing with his actual finances.

After a very short introduction to QuickBooks, a program that is apparently very popular among business owners who do their own finances, Paul handed me his bank statements and I was more or less on my own. The program is pretty straightforward, but it still took me a little while to feel confident that I had the hang of it. When all of the information was in, I was able to tell the program to create Profit & Loss statements. Paul explained to me that P&L statements are the easiest way for him to see where his money is going and save as much as possible. He also pointed out that as a small business owner, a lot of the spending he does related to MMP is looked at differently on his taxes, so it’s especially important that all of the information is logged correctly. I really appreciate that Paul trusted me enough to work on his finances last week, but i have to say that accounting is probably not the right field for me–it’s just not how my brain works.

Week 5: Becoming a Saleswoman

Last week at Minuteman Press I found myself confronting more than one of my fears as I learned what it takes to be a part of a sales team. Along with Paul, the franchise owner, I went out into the world to try and convince complete strangers that they needed what I was selling. Of course, growing up seeing my parents hang up on telemarketers and politely (but adamantly) refuse people who came around door-to-door, I was expecting to be shut down. For whatever reason, I was also expecting to encounter extremely rude people wherever I went. Luckily, I was there only for observation and had to say about two sentences total during the entire experience.

Paul explained to me that from his point of view, all it takes to be a good sales person is a positive attitude, communication skills, and a positive attitude.  Of course, he said, you’ll always encounter a few people who are feeling especially cranky and may look down their noses at you, but for the most part if you’re friendly towards people they will return the favor. I watched him keep his cool through rejections and success, heard him go through what seemed to be a fairly set script whenever we went into a new office. In the end, I realized that I probably could go into sales if that’s where my heart really was, that I would be able to break out of my shell if I really was motivated to, but for now I’ll leave it to those who are more naturally inclined towards putting themselves out there.

Week 4

Happy Independence Day, everyone! Unfortunately because I’ve been so busy at my paid job this is the only time I’ve had free to talk about last week at MMP. My boss actually decided to take this whole week off for the holiday, so last week was mostly about getting things done for clients. Because of this, I was more on my own in terms of how I wanted to spend my time. I was asked to reorganize the Excel spreadsheets that I had created as databases for potential new customers, and to do some research on Facebook as to how to continue to build our page. Looking at other business’s pages, I saw that a lot of people post articles with ‘how to’ tips relating either to their field or to running a business in general. Since then I’ve been on the lookout for any articles that could be relevant to MMP to post on our facebook page.

Next week I’ve been told to prepare for going out with my boss on sales calls to both current and potential customers. I’ll get to see what it takes to keep people’s business and to gain new clients. I’m kind of nervous because I’ve never done anything like this (except selling Girl Scout cookies), and I’m not usually a pushy person. But we’ll see–maybe it’ll be completely different from what I expect.

Week 3: Market Research

My boss, Paul, has been very focused lately on generating new business for Minuteman Press, since business has been slower this month than he anticipated it would be. This turned into an opportunity for me to learn a little bit about Market Research, yet another new area for me. I started off by looking at the franchise’s records for the past 9 summers, May-August since 2003. I made yet another Excel Spreadsheet with information about the number of invoices per month, the amount of money in sales, and the averages for each category per month to see where we are currently compared to past years. What I discovered by looking at these trends is that while there are a lot of jobs coming in, the amount of money per job has fallen significantly.

When I discussed this with Paul, he asked me to look at the records for his top 100 customers and see what they’re already buying in order to figure out how he can make more money from the people he’s already working with.This kind of research is useful, according to Paul, because a lot of the time his customers only order small things like business cards without realizing that they could get a much bigger variety of things from him, like pens or tshirts. Like the other things I’ve compiled for my boss so far over the course of this internship, he’s going to use this information both to expand his business with the customers he already works with and to attract new ones. Another interesting week–I’m excited to see what comes next!


Week 2: Settling In

This, a continuation of the marketing portion of my internship, it was nice to feel a little bit more at ease. I’ve gotten more familiar with the office, my coworkers and the overall environment at Minuteman Press. My job for the week was to set up an Excel spreadsheet consisting of information on close to two thousand businesses in northern New Jersey. The spreadsheet includes contact information as well as codes that correspond to the company’s category as well as its size, and as my boss explained to me will be useful as he attempts to attract new customers since he will be able to vary his marketing strategies.

The experience I gained in the Managerial Decision Making course at Dickinson definitely helped speed up  the process, as I was able to use some of the shortcuts I know and didn’t have to waste time trying to figure out how to use the program. Everything had to be sorted into functional categories and color coded based on size, which could have been an extremely frustrating experience had I been less familiar with Excel.

Overall, everything is going well and I’m excited to see what this week will bring!

Week 1: Social Media Marketing

The first week of my internship at Minuteman Press seems to be over as quickly as it started. I went into day one fairly nervous as I wasn’t really sure what was going to be expected of me or what the working environment was going to be like. Minuteman Press is truly a small business: with five employees total (including myself), the person I report to is also the owner of the company. No pressure.

Going into day one, I did know that my first task was to create a Facebook page for the business. My boss had explained to me that he wasn’t satisfied with the amount of traffic his website was getting from traditional search engines, and wanted to try something new. He explained that Social Media Marketing is becoming an extremely important tool for small businesses, and that when successful can be invaluable in expanding a company’s customer base. Being an active user of social media for personal reasons, I expected the project to go smoothly. I browsed other businesses pages for inspiration, paying close attention to the kind of statuses and information they had posted. This was going to be very different from a personal page, but I was confident that I could handle it.

Unfortunately, problems came up rather quickly. All of the graphics that my supervisor wanted on the page (as profile pictures, cover photos, and examples of work) had to somehow be converted into image files from PDFs. And I was working on a PC, which I haven’t really done since high school. And Adobe doesn’t exactly make anything easy or obvious. Eventually, I figured out that in the file menu, ‘take a photo’ meant copy everything on the page, and I remembered from my childhood that the Paint program that comes on every PC saves things as image files. So although I’m sure there must have been another way, I copied things into Paint and uploaded those files to my Facebook page. On my second day I added a few more photos, made sure all of the information was correct and wrote up a few statuses on the importance of printing and ‘how MMP can help you grow’. Finally, before going live, my boss and I came up with an incentive for people to visit the page: the first 30 people to ‘Like’ Minuteman Press on Facebook are going to be entered in a drawing to win free business cards.

The last time I heard, feedback about the Facebook page was all positive. Slowly but surely, we’re getting more ‘likes’ and more traffic, and my boss has received emails on the subject, meaning that people are paying attention. It was more difficult than I expected, but creating this Facebook page and gaining some experience in Social Media Marketing was definitely rewarding. I’ll be in charge of keeping up with it for the rest of my time at this internship, and I look forward to seeing it grow.