Long Time No Post

It has been quite some time since I’ve really been blogging. I realize that I’ve been slacking on this lately. I’m hoping to be better about blogging again. Life has been crazy busy – work has been going very well, but has also been extremely busy (read late nights) with what is basically 100% travel. I’ve traveled a few weekends and other weekends have been packed with things to do and people to see. Hopefully, life will be slowing down a bit soon and I will do a better job of posting on here more regularly.

In the meantime, here are some highlights of the past month or so:

  • I have now been to every corner of Louisiana and most everywhere in between too
  • I celebrated Mardi Gras (though not in New Orleans)
  • I went to St. Petersburg, Florida for a long weekend
  • I went to Denver for DU’s Winter Carnival and had a great time with friends. I also went skiing with my brother ūüôā
  • I’ve decided that I finally need to start going to events in St. Louis with the Jewish Federation’s Young Professional Division, Moishe House, and Next Dor
  • I saw Louis Black at the Peabody Opera House (worth mentioning the location on its own merit)
  • I went to Centene’s Annual Success Party at the St. Louis Club. It was impressive.
  • I was sick for about a week/week and a half – now I have remnants in the form of allergies/sinuses
  • I went to the New Horizons Order of the Arrow Chapter Banquet. We launched our new website (I’m the advisor).
  • I’m doing more work with Hillel of Colorado on their website
  • I saw a St. Louis University Billikens game
  • I’ve had a few family events
  • I did Ammi Hyde interviews for the University of Denver
  • I’ve been with Centene for more than six months now
So, here’s looking towards March – and can you believe it is almost here already?

Blog Changes and Other Updates

I’ve started making some changes to my blog. ¬†To better account for changes in my life and the topics I tend to write about, I have begun converting some tags into categories and demoting some categories to sub-categories or tags. ¬†I will continue to make more of these changes as my posting topics/styles change and as they become more or less relevant to my current life position. ¬†I will also be re-writing my intro page, about me, biography, etc. over the next few weeks so be sure to look for that.

In other news:

  • Stuart, my brother, had a birthday last week. ¬†He had some friends in town and we all went out to celebrate the big 21.
  • I visited Cape Girardeau in Southeast Missouri for the first time. ¬†I have a friend going to Southeast Missouri State University there so we hung out – for the first time in about a year. ¬†Cape is bigger than I’d expected (and I liked it better than I’d expected) while SEMO is certainly hilly.
  • I am going to Denver for a week before I start working. ¬†I’ve been making a ton of plans. ¬†Should be fun!
  • I am finally going to see Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2!

2010 in Review

The stats helper monkeys at WordPress.com mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter‚ĄĘ reads Wow.

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

A Boeing 747-400 passenger jet can hold 416 passengers. This blog was viewed about 7,200 times in 2010. That’s about 17 full 747s.

 

In 2010, there were 160 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 161 posts. There were 53 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 10mb. That’s about 1 pictures per week.

The busiest day of the year was May 10th with 172 views. The most popular post that day was Three Jews and Six Catholics Walked Into The Supreme Court.

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were facebook.com, en.wordpress.com, healthfitnesstherapy.com, slashingtongue.com, and digg.com.

Some visitors came searching, mostly for pat martchink, how private is facebook, school newspaper articles, carillon, and joel portman.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.

1

Three Jews and Six Catholics Walked Into The Supreme Court May 2010
4 comments

2

Welcome! May 2010

3

OneRepublic @ DU May 2010
1 comment

4

As Our Lives Change, Come Whatever, We Will Still Be Friends Forever May 2010
2 comments

5

How Private is Facebook? May 2010

No New Posts

It has been an incredibly long time since my last post.  With the end of the quarter, multiple work projects, the job search, planning my trip to Israel and England, finals, etc, it is easy to understand why.  Perhaps that will be changing before too long.

The Second To Last Day

Today was amazing. ¬†I really do not want this internship to end. ¬†I hate goodbyes – although hopefully this will not be goodbye. ¬†I would love the opportunity to come back to work for Build-A-Bear Workshop after graduation and it seems as though that may be a possibility if a position becomes available. ¬†I’ve got my fingers crossed.

When I got to work today, I had an email from Maxine (the CEO) that she had sent to all of the interns with the subject “You guys rock!!!”. ¬†That’s pretty awesome. ¬†She wanted to thank us for our work this summer and asked us to be in touch. ¬†That seems to be a theme with most people in the company and they genuinely seem to mean it. ¬†I will definitely be in touch.

Laurie, who coordinates our internship program, shared with me a message that Maxine had sent out to Tina (CFO), Eric (General Counsel), Darlene (Chief of HR), and Laurie early this morning. ¬†She had seen my blog post from yesterday and sent it to them to “enjoy”. ¬†How nice!

Today I worked on finishing a few projects, went to lunch with the international team, met with several people, and went to the Bon Voyage Paw-ty for the interns.

At lunch, Cory and I were each given a Zakumi, the World Cup mascot, from Build-a-Bear Workshop International for our work on the World Cup as well as a Build-A-Bear Workshop International portfolio and highly sought after jacket.  I was pleasantly surprised and am happy to be able to take these with me to remember the international team.

At our Bon Voyage Paw-ty, a good chunk of BearQuarters showed up to say goodbye. ¬†It was nice of them to come se us off and showed me, once again, how interconnected we all are. ¬†The company gave each intern a bear with a shirt that had been embroidered with our university name on it, a signed copy (with a personal note) of Maxine’s book, The Bear Necessities of Business, among other gifts. ¬†They are really very kind.

I met with Tina and Eric today. ¬†It was my first chat with Tina and I got to find out her history and involvement in the company and a bit about her personally. ¬†I was able to reflect on the summer and the company’s future with both of them. ¬†Everyone here has such unique stories and perspectives that together give the company a lot of opportunities.

There will be a Bear Builder in town from Denmark the week after next.  Even though I will no longer be with the company, I have been invited to help show him around St. Louis and participate in events with him in the evening.  That should be a lot of fun.

One more day.  I know it will be good.

Build-A-Bear Catch-Up

Alright, so I have been slacking in my blog posts Рbut there is a lot to write.  I am going on vacation immediately after my internship ends (!) on Friday though and unfortunately, do not have a ton of time.  As such, I will not be able to go into as much depth on some of these topics as I would have otherwise done.

On Monday, all of the interns gave a presentation on each of our experiences this summer at Build-A-Bear Workshop to the Chiefs and Managing Directors of the company as well as all of the intern supervisors.  We had five minutes to cover a lot of information: who I am, summary of projects, highlight a key project(s) (I selected the International Holiday Toolkit), key takeaways from the summer, and the affect of the internship on career plans.  My presentation went well I believe (I mean, it did include a vuvuzela on the table and a joke about Excel) and I have been pleased with the feedback I have gotten Рincluding from the CEO and from the President!

Yesterday, I had the privilege to sit down for about half an hour with Maxine Clark, Chief Executive Bear and Chairman of Build-A-Bear Workshop. ¬†She was very welcoming. ¬†Meeting with her was not stressful, but rather seemed like a conversation with a very knowledgable friend. ¬†She asked what questions I had about the company or her. ¬†I asked about her thoughts on company growth,the role of international, the importance of philanthropy to her personally and to the company, how she manages time, company culture, when she knew she “made it”, what was the inspiration behind the company/what convinced her to give up her job as President of Payless Shoesource to start Build-A-Bear Workshop, among other questions. ¬†She was very honest and shared some of her personal history with me. ¬†It was a great conversation. ¬†It is easy to see why she is so admired and how the company has grown so quickly. ¬†She is definitely a role model. ¬†Maxine ended our conversation by asking for a hug. ūüôā

Today was the quarterly BearQuarters meeting.  I was involved in a few parts for which we practiced yesterday.  They began the meeting by recognizing new associates, including the interns.  We got several shout outs, which was nice.  Maxine introduced the first speaker, a lady from the United Way.  Her story was extremely potent.  Build-A-Bear has a company campaign to support the United Way and this was certainly a great way to get people energized for it.  The meeting included presentations by Tina Klocke, Chief Operations and Financial Bear (CFO), and John Haugh, President and Chief Marketing Bear, about the state of the business.  It certainly is encouraging.  There was also a presentation on corporate sales.

I was involved in two other pieces of the meeting: the international presentation and the fashion show.  Tim made a presentation at the meeting on news about the international franchisees including new business development, world cup sales, landmark store sales, and awards in Australia.  In honor of the success of Mexico, we had pinatas which we broke during the meeting.  It was a great surprise.

Before Maxine spoke to conclude the meeting (during which time she mentioned the importance and value of diversity!), there was a fashion show to show off the new product that will premiere during the quarter. ¬†Most of the interns helped with this. ¬†It was the first time I have been paid to be in a fashion show! Although, I guess the animals had the fashion… ¬†Be sure to check out the Smallfrys when they premiere in September. ¬†They are awesome and I really want them… all. ¬†I am glad that I had the opportunity to see one of this meetings and participate in it.

I have been working on a lot of projects lately including preparing PowerPoints for the fall International Operations Summit, new business government filing for expansion, evaluation of world cup sales in anticipation of 2014, preparing the FY2011 International Department budget, and more.  I will post my final list of projects after the internship is over.

Today I was putting together one of the PowerPoints for the fall Summit and included the video from the Fortune “100 Best Companies to Work For”. ¬†If you watch it, you will see several people I have ben working with closely this summer – including my new dog friend, Heath.

Tomorrow, Cory and I are going to lunch with the international team. ¬†I’m looking forward to it, but it also makes me a bit sad to realize that the internship is ending. ¬†I have several other meetings tomorrow though. ¬†When I met with Maxine, she suggested meeting with a few other people before I leave so tomorrow I am meeting with Tina (CFO) and Eric Fencl (General Counsel). ¬†I look forward to those meetings.

It was clear from today’s meeting that we have been appreciated and our work recognized throughout the company. ¬†I will certainly miss working there. ¬†Two more days. ¬†Wow!

Behind On My Posts

I need to go to bed, but (partially as a reminder to myself) I still need to post about quite a few things from my internship at Build-A-Bear Workshop this summer that I am behind on:

  • My internship presentation to the Chiefs and Managing Directors
  • Meeting with Maxine Clark, Chief Executive Bear
  • Preparations for tomorrow’s Quarterly BearQuarters Meeting
  • Tomorrow’s Quarterly BearQuarters meeting
  • My recent projects

It’s amazing that I am almost halfway done with my last week of the internship! ¬†I have no idea where the summer has gone. ¬†It has certainly been great.

The Blog Has Gone International!

It seems as though my blog has gotten a decent amount of attention recently! ūüôā ¬†My posts about Build-A-Bear Workshop show up under Google Alerts and similar programs. ¬†Today, SiSi (She works in International Marketing) came over and told me that someone in South Africa asked who I was. ¬†She had found my blog online and had read my posts about the internship. ¬†That’s pretty exciting!

On another note, if you search “build a bear internship” on Google, my blog shows up second in the list after the Build-A-Bear website. ¬†That’s pretty exciting!

MASA Blog Post

As I wrote yesterday, I have written a blog post for MASA about my experiences at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Israel.  The article has now been posted and is available here.

Blog Post for MASA/JAFI

As I have posted before, I studied abroad in Israel from the end of July to the end of December 2008. ¬†The Ginsberg-Ingerman Overseas Student Program at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU) was an amazing experience and I highly recommend it to anyone who is considering studying in Israel. ¬†Be’er Sheva may not be the usual destination, but it is a great city and BGU is consistently ranked the top university by Israeli students.

The Overseas Student Program (OSP) is also sponsored by two quasi(?) governmental organizations, MASA and the Jewish Agency For Israel.  These groups encourage students to come to Israel and even give scholarships to do so.  I was recently contacted to write a blog post for them about my experience.  It will be posted in the near future and perhaps may also be printed in a Jewish newspaper.  Here is the article:

In 2005 I traveled to Poland and Israel with United Synagogue Youth (USY), one of two Jewish youth groups I was a part of, along with BBYO. ¬†The five weeks I spent in Israel were some of the best of my life. ¬†But it wasn’t enough. ¬†I wanted more and I knew I would have to return.
I spent five months studying at Masa Israel‚Äôs Ben-Gurion University of the Negev from the end of July to the end of December 2008. ¬†I attend the University of Denver where approximately 70% of the undergraduate students study abroad ‚Äď so I knew I would be spending part of Junior Year in another country. ¬†What country that would be was an easy choice. ¬†I knew that I had to be in Israel. ¬†The question was what school. ¬†My options were pretty limited because of the University of Denver‚Äôs quarter schedule. ¬†Nevertheless, I knew that there were ways to get around this.
I was trying to decide between Hebrew University in Jerusalem or Ben-Gurion University in Be‚Äôer Sheva. ¬†I wanted to have the opportunity to explore Judaism while experiencing the ‚Äúreal‚ÄĚ Israel. ¬†I wanted to learn Hebrew and I knew that English was pervasive in Jerusalem. ¬†Much to the surprise of almost everyone I knew, I chose Ben-Gurion. ¬†It ended up being a phenomenal choice.
I loved every minute of classes at Ben-Gurion.  Be’er Sheva is an amazing city, regardless of what anyone says.  The people are amazing.  Our first night there, about 30 lost Americans stood on the street corner trying to figure out where we were and how we could find someplace close by to eat.  A student came up and offered to make us pancakes.  We got to know him well over the next several months.
I kept a blog for the summer to share my experiences and stories with anyone who cared to read them.  I made the following observations in my first real post:
  • There are a lot of stray cats (and some dogs) in Be’er Sheva.
  • The Israeli students are actually finishing up their semester with the next few weeks being their final period. Their schedule got messed up with two different (one professor and one student) strikes this past year. Many of these students will be moving out of the dorms. Their new semester will not begin until mid-November.
  • The school week in Israel is Sunday ‚Äď Thursday. It is going to take some getting used to.
These observations seem laughable now that I have spent time in Be’er Sheva and Israel for as long as I did.  There were so many meaningful things that happened.
At home now in St. Louis, Missouri for the summer, I have been experiencing an extremely hot and humid summer.  The heat is familiar from Be’er Sheva, the humidity, not so much.  St. Louis is missing the sand though (which really gives the city some character).  The other day I was working in a building looking out at the sun and blue skies.  Someone mentioned spending time at the pool over the weekend and I flashed back to the days of Ulpan, when we would spend the afternoons at the pool, across from Mayonot Gimel.  We would swim, tan, or play volleyball and matkot (Israeli paddleball) with the Israeli students.  We were always welcomed and we began to feel part of the Israeli society.
Back in Denver, I began to get involved in Israel advocacy and programming with student groups and formed relationships with StandWithUs and other organizations.  I took classes on the Israeli-Arab conflict and wrote my honors thesis on Israeli communities rising from discrimination to power.  As part of a liberal international studies program, I often found myself defending Israel, but I was always happy to do it.  I had immediately been a part of the controversy mix, returning to the United States just before my Israeli dorms were evacuated after being hit by a rocket from Gaza (don’t worry, there were no injuries).
I knew that I would not be able to see everything that I had wanted to see during my five months. ¬†I knew I would want to go back. ¬†What was surprising though was how much of Be‚Äôer Sheva I did not experience. ¬†Sure, I traveled and explored, but I always figured, ‚ÄúBe‚Äôer Sheva only has 200,000 people. ¬†How much can there be here to do?‚ÄĚ ¬†Apparently, a lot. ¬†I always said I would return to visit those small museums, but never did. ¬†Hard as I knew it would be, I wanted to get up early on a Thursday morning to go to the animal auction at the Bedouin Market. ¬†I missed it. ¬†That is my only regret.
My Masa Israel experience was amazing. ¬†I would never have given it up for anything. ¬†Now, I know that I need to return. ¬†I hope to do so this December (when I can once again eat way too many sufganiyot! ‚Äď jelly donuts). ¬†Until then, I will think of Israel often. ¬†See you soon!

As you can tell, they edited it. ūüôā Once it is posted to their blog, I’ll be sure to share the link.