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20130130 105

I know what people will ask me when I return home.


“How was your internship?”


I can only assume that people do not expect or have the time to hear full details about my internship experience with Mary Kay Inc., so I'll keep it to just a sentence or two.


For the rest of you wanting to hear full(er) details, taking the time to read what I have to say, here it is:


My internship with Mary Kay was far more than my initial expectations. As an Interactive Design and Public Relations dual major, I had hoped to leave my internship with stronger design skills, several finished graphics and 10 to 12 writing pieces, but my expectations were not met.


Because of my unique internship opportunity to work with the eBusiness department (which works to launch new web applications in Mary Kay's global markets), I had to work much harder to seek the opportunities to design and write. I am very thankful for my supervisor, Erika, because she was gracious enough to help me find those design and writing opportunities.


My professors at Waynesburg have taught me to network and always introduce myself and shake hands with professionals whenever possible. I acted on that challenge and took it another step further by opening that hand shake opportunity to all the other summer interns through iLunch.


iLunch was not in my internship description nor did anyone ask me to create it. I learned to take advantage of opportunities (namely working in a 13-floor building full of seasoned professionals), and it was great to see iLunch be so successful in connecting the interns with the professionals.


Working with the people at Mary Kay also gave me invaluable experience in working in a team and relying on others to yield a great product. I learned the balance in accomplishing goals while also being friends and coworkers able to make jokes. I also learned about the necessity for caffeine and candy around 2 o'clock. One meeting I attended started off by passing around a box of peanut M&M's, Twix, Reese's and other Mars and Hershey products. (Perhaps I will try starting all my future meetings by passing out candy...)


In the end, I'm thankful my original expectations were not met. I was able to use my PR and design knowledge, just in different ways than I had expected, and I learned a lot about the heavy amount of work that goes into launching new web apps in Kazakhstan, Germany, Netherlands and Switzerland. (I also learned how to correctly spell “Kazakhstan.”) I was blessed with a great supervisor and coworkers, great opportunities and outstanding support for iLunch from both Mary Kay professionals and interns.


The greatest lesson I learned this summer was that my mom was right: you get out of it what you put into it. I could have been discouraged and resentful all summer because I was not working in Corporate Communications or Marketing utilizing my PR and design skills, but what would have been the benefit in a bad attitude? Had I chosen to play victim all summer instead of be a Mary Kay intern, I would have a missed so many other opportunities to learn.

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Before starting my internship with Mary Kay Inc., I saw this quote online from its founder Mary Kay Ash: “God first. Family second. Career third.”

I thought to myself, “Wow. That's a really good philosophy to have,” but I also thought how difficult it would be to live it.

As a senior in college, I would look at the prospectives of the full-time job and think I had to make a choice between a strong, advancing career or a faith laced into the fabric of my job. My faith is a very important part of who I am, but from what I've heard, the “real world” isn't too keen on God in the workplace. Sometimes, faith is even an impediment on advancing in a job. I thought that I would have to compromise on the blooming career, living out my faith through my job or both.

However, working with Mary Kay has given me a new perspective. Taking part in the culture of Mary Kay's workplace, I can now see how there does not have to be a compromise between faith and success in the workplace, even in a corporate setting.

The most eye-opening aspect of Mary Kay for me is how this group of people keeps their priorities in order while also being an extremely successful global company. I have seen people rearrange schedules to have time to take care of their kids who are sick at home and still work from home to achieve a full day's worth of work. There is a way to put God first, family second and career third and be a thriving organization, and Mary Kay proves that everyday.

Working with Mary Kay has been inspiring but also challenging in that I feel like I still lack that “real world” experience my professors talked about. I suppose I expected my “real world” experience to include an unfriendly boss and more arguments and cussing in the workplace. At Mary Kay, I had a very encouraging, affable supervisor and didn't witness any screaming arguments in a meeting.

Although my perspective of the “real world” work environment has been redefined, I am so thankful for my internship experience. Working with Mary Kay has shown me that it is very possible to achieve and maintain a respectful, friendly work environment and that the “real world” doesn't have to be super scary.

Walking toward the “real world” and applying for jobs is still intimidating to me, but I am thankful I can walk into that unknown realm knowing it is possible to keep my priorities in order while also being competitive and successful in my career as I have seen so many do at Mary Kay.

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The Pennsylvania Transplant (that'd be me) has officially survived nine weeks in the Texas heat! I must say, I don't mind it, especially in comparison to all the rain, rain and more rain I hear y'all have had in western Pennsylvania. I hope all that rain clears up by the time I return in a couple of weeks.

Now, don't worry, Pennsylvanians. I have no desire to move to Texas right now. I have had an absolutely wonderful stay with my Texas family this summer; I would not trade it for anything. However, it is just not the same as home.

In Texas, you have to turn on the sprinklers every day if you want to have green grass in your front lawn. This was a new concept for me. Even the grass that is green is still rather prickly to walk on in bare feet. Green grass (and rain for that matter) are common elements of western Pennsylvania, and I have certainly missed seeing green on the ground and full trees dressed in emerald.

Speaking of trees, that's another difference between Texas and home. The trees were one of the very first things I noticed upon my arrival. They are rather scraggly in my personal opinion. Their branches don't spread as far, and their leaves aren't as... leafy. The leaves here aren't as full and don't provide as much shady relief from the sun as the leaves do at home. (To any Texas readers, please don't be offended that I dislike your trees.)

Despite the lack of greenery in Texas, it sure makes up the difference in warm weather. Of the nine weeks I've been here, only about seven or eight days have produced rain, and the majority of the time, it rained only during the night. The Texas heat is much less humid, too, which I could certainly get accustomed to!

Overall, Texas gets a four star rating from me. I have not seen as many cacti as I expected, but I won't count that against its rating. The people are very friendly here; strangers will wave to you as you pass by on the road, which is not something I typically see while driving down I-79. It's a little drier and less green than Pennsylvania, but it still feels like a second home.

Although I've lived with my Texas family in the Texas heat for the summer, I am still a Pennsylvanian on the inside. I am really looking forward to being back in Pittsburgh, visiting the Pointe and seeing the Pirates play at PNC Park. However, if you measure a true western Pennsylvanian by his or her use of "yinz," then you may consider me convert.

Yes, I do say "y'all" now... just without the Texas twang.




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David Holl and interns at iLunch

My first week of interning with Mary Kay, it occurred to me that I would be working in a building full of seasoned professionals. Those seasoned professionals have obtained an array of experiences from backgrounds such as brand development, legal issues, marketing and information technology. If I chose to neglect the opportunity to reach out to those people in Mary Kay, I would be missing out on a lot of valuable insights from them.

Taking advantage of that opportunity, I and another intern created iLunch, which is an abbreviation for Intern Luncheon. Another intern and I have worked together all summer to coordinate speakers for the weekly lunch event for the other 30+ summer interns and so far have had prominent people such as Vice Presidents Bill Brown and Nathan Moore speak with us. If you ask me, this past week marked the peak of speakers for iLunch.

Appropriately sporting a pink tie, CEO David Holl walked into the room wanting no formal introduction speech and spoke with us during iLunch to share some of his experiences. Mr. Holl has been with Mary Kay for 20 years and has been CEO for seven years, working his way up the corporate ladder from CFO to COO and finally to CEO.

Mr. Holl shared with us interns the value of accountability and “straight talk” with coworkers and shared stories about his experiences as a leader of one of the top private corporations in Dallas. He also spoke about being courageous enough to respectfully disagree with other people, having a plan with room for flexibility and accepting changes that will come whether you like it or not.

One main point that I took away from Mr. Holl's speech and conversation with the interns was concerning leadership. He said leading in a way that primarily aims to please or appease other people will result in failure. As a member of the Bonner Leadership Team and President of the Design Club at Waynesburg University, I really valued David Holl's insight about being a leader because I hope to use his insights to guide me as a leader on campus and in the work place.

By the way, I hope you all had a great holiday weekend; happy belated Independence Day!



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MaryKay Infographic

One aspect of my internship that I appreciate is how much we interns are encouraged to familiarize ourselves with the background and culture of Mary Kay. Since I started my internship in mid May, I have learned more about the woman and visionary who began the company than I have learned about products or profits.

Mary Kay was a strong woman and leader in so many ways. With only five thousand dollars and her own ambition, Mary Kay Ash started a company in 1963 that would inspire and change millions of people's lives throughout the following 50 years.

Learning about Mary Kay Ash as a person has proven to me that strong morals and values can be successfully woven into a business (and an international business at that). I really appreciate her ethic of “God first, family second, career third” which I can clearly see is still practiced in the Mary Kay workplace today.

Being able to see the values of Mary Kay still upheld and practiced today is amazing to see in a business. It also makes me feel like a valued part of the company, even though I am only a summer intern. Understanding the culture of the company I am interning with motivates me a little more to get out of bed at 6:30 a.m. every week day to make the one-hour commute to the Mary Kay Building. I'm not sure what I expected from my internship experience, but I was pleasantly surprised to feel such a part of what Mary Kay strives to accomplish everyday: to improve the lives of women and help them succeed.

Passing along what I've learned about Mary Kay Ash, I wanted to share a few of her other words of wisdom that I believe show her heart for helping other people, her ambitious work ethic and vision for her company(Infographic Photo Above).

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