An exciting time for sleep

Hi! My name is Renee Schoenthaler and I just finished my senior year at the Carlson School of Management at the University of Minnesota where I majored in Supply Chain Operations with a minor in Leadership. In the summer of 2018 and throughout the 2018-2019 academic school year I interned with Sleep Number Corporation in its Field Services department.

Sleep Number is a constantly evolving organization that prides itself on teamwork, innovation and passion. Those are just three of the five values I personally see show up every day. My time at Sleep Number can be measured in minutes, days, number of meetings or projects completed, but what cannot be measured is the impact the people and company have had on my business development and learning.

Over the course of my ten-week internship I was brought into important meetings, helped coordinate the implementation of a telematics system in the fleet, and ran analysis on fuel reports and deliveries to determine headcount which led to presentations of my recommendations and resulted in changes to current systems. I also worked alongside very driven and compassionate people as well as bonded with the other interns every day at lunch and many times after work.

While reflecting on my internship, I have realized three key takeaways:

1. Stay Curious and Build Meaningful Relationships

An internship provides a great opportunity to be a sponge and soak up as much as you can. Full time employees are very willing to share their time and knowledge about the different roles and tactics they have had and find useful, you just have to be willing to ask. It is important to continue reaching out and getting to know others in the different departments and levels of the business as you. You can learn a lot from a 5 minute or 30 minute conversation regarding the company, the business world, technical skills or about something new that may now interest you. The relationships you build at your internship can help propel you in many directions you did not think possible; that is how I learned about Sleep Number, from a previous internship connection and a recommendation by that colleague.

2. Believe in Yourself

During my internship, I worked on projects that showed me the impact my work has on the company beginning in week one. At the time, as a 21 year old still in college, it was hard to believe I could be trusted with projects of scale that involved communicating with senior leaders, becoming an expert in the material and teaching others. My manager, Teresa, communicated expectations and provided the space to display my strengths and skills to complete the projects. It is important to understand if you work hard, ask questions, utilize your strengths, and believe in yourself, you are more capable of succeeding than you think. Always remember, you are more of an asset to the company than you may believe, so make a point to show you are worth it.

3.Build Your Brand

These 10-12 weeks are development weeks for you to build your professional brand. You may not always have something to do, work on the most exciting projects, or have phenomenal soft and technical skills during the internship, but you can show you are motivated, a hard worker and want to maximize your experience. Ask for more projects, offer help to your team or manager, or work on your technical and communication skills during your free time. The little things go a long way and show your manager and the company you are making the most of the experience and opportunity given to you. If at the end of the internship you decide to try a new path, you want to leave the company feeling satisfied you put everything you could into your internship and are walking away having learned something about yourself, the business world, and having developed your professional brand.

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