For months, Kimber Blair consulted with two Waynesburg University mentors about the possibility of moving to Texas for the summer to pursue an internship at Mary Kay’s corporate headquarters. The mentors, vastly different in profession – one an adviser of service leadership and the other a journalism professor – gave her exactly what she needed.
“My Bonner Scholar adviser helped me process my options and which one would be best for me, and my professor helped by taking the extra time to review my resume and give advice on phone interviewing,” Blair said. “They were both such great listeners, especially when I lost confidence in myself and my fears and doubts took over. Their guidance and encouragement helped me get to Mary Kay, and I am so thankful for them.”
Blair, a senior public relations and interactive design major, has served as a Bonner Scholar since her freshman year. The Waynesburg University Bonner Scholar program, one of only 23 programs across the nation, selects approximately 15 students each year and encourages community service through a required 140 hours of service per student, per semester.
Blair said that her service opportunities have helped teach her about leadership, and she also named the chair of the Waynesburg University Department of Communication in helping to position her for such a successful internship.
“One thing I have learned from Professor Krause is to take advantage of and learn from the experiences of the professionals,” Blair said. “I have learned to ask for contact information or a business card, be professional in emails and phone calls and always edit my work before sending it. “
With those actions in mind, Blair began the long, laborious application process for a spot with Mary Kay’s eBusiness Department in Dallas, Texas. After a rigorous series of networking, phone interviews, resumes and writing samples, a position within the eBusiness department of the corporation presented itself. In May of 2013, she flew down to the Lone Star State to begin her internship, helping to launch new web applications to Mary Kay's global market.
“The characteristic that stood out the most about Kimber was her enthusiasm for any assignment given to her,” said Erika Butler, an Information Services Technology Global eBusiness project leader at Mary Kay and Blair’s direct supervisor. “A lot of what she did for Mary Kay was outside her comfort zone, but you wouldn’t have known that by talking to her or reviewing her work.”
In the office, she wrote and tested cases for the company’s information technology systems management and created an Excel sheet that included more than 1500 words and phrases to be translated into German. Depending on the day, she participated in departmental and company-wide meetings and gave feedback on Mary Kay webpages, advertisements and products.
As one of 30 total interns at Mary Kay Inc., Blair was given ample occasions to stand out, and she made a point to do so from the beginning.
“I was working in a building full of people who had years of experience in marketing, writing, leadership, information technology, media and branding, and I decided to shape that opportunity and create iLunch,” Blair said.
Her launch of iLunch, a weekly luncheon for all company interns, placed her in the direct gaze of various directorial members of the company who liked what they saw.
The luncheon featured an internal senior-level professional who would inspire and network with the young men and women.
“We had a couple of vice presidents, the chief legal officer and secretary, the IT regional business advisor and Mary Kay’s CEO David Holl speak with us,” Blair said. “Mr. Holl shared with us stories about his experiences as a leader of one of the top private corporations in Dallas. I hope to use his insights to guide me as a leader on campus and in the work place.”
Blair, who has served in leadership positions across campus since her freshman year, now leads the campus design club, campus worship sound production, a local after-school tutoring program for youth and more.
“Kimber has an amazing work ethic. She sets very lofty goals for herself and consistently meets and exceeds them,” said Dr. Chad Sherman, assistant professor of communication and a faculty adviser of the design club at Waynesburg University. “She's doing amazing things at Waynesburg University, and it should surprise no one that she did great things at Mary Kay.”
The driven young woman returned to campus with greater confidence in her leadership abilities and first-hand proof of what her mentors assured her – that she could venture out of her comfort zone and succeed.
“From my internship, I have gained more confidence in myself and my work,” said Blair. “I realized it’s a good feeling to have people rooting for me and believing in me, even when I don't believe in myself.”