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.

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Build-A-Bear Catch-Up

Alright, so I have been slacking in my blog posts – but 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 – including 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. 🙂

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!