Startup Internship Program: Reflection From Taylor Jennings

Thanks to a gift from the John E. and Jeanne T. Hughes Foundation, the Coleman Entrepreneurship Center sponsored 6 undergraduate student internships during the 2015 summer at premier Chicago startup businesses.

Below, Taylor Jennings, a DePaul Junior double-majoring in Business/Hospitality Leadership and Marketing, reflects on her time as an intern at Chicago Foodseum, the first nonprofit food museum.

While I have had a lot of opportunities for learning during my internship at Chicago Foodseum, the greatest thing I learned was how to adapt when things do not go quite as planned. I am one of those people that wants to have everything planned to a T, and I sometimes find it difficult to respond to sudden changes. Interning with Foodseum has taught me to not only be able to adapt to sudden changes but to embrace them. For example, there are a lot of uncertainties and variables that go into opening a museum exhibit. We have been waiting for nearly a month on the lease for our space and in response, our timelines and schedules have changed dramatically since I began. Working with Kyle and his design head, Tomas, has taught me that sudden change and adaptation, more often than not, leads to a better outcome, and that sudden changes are no cause for panic. I also learned how to better take authority in situations that I am unfamiliar with. Being an exhibit coordinator means reaching out to a lot of people with impressive titles and backgrounds, but doing so is no cause for alarm and is best handled when you are well prepared and confident in your approach.

As an entrepreneur, my internship has taught me a lot of character attributes that an entrepreneur should possess that I did not have before. I have become more professional, more authoritative, more direct and knowledgeable in my engagements, and mostly, more confident in myself. Being more confident in reacting to changes and in dealing with superiors (whom I am essentially courting for donations) was something that I had no familiarity with. Now I know that just because I am unfamiliar does not mean that I am not capable. I’ve also learned that no idea is too extreme. Opening a food museum is a lofty goal that some people may initially be confused by, but Kyle has taught me that confidence in your dream will get you to the end. When you believe in yourself people will begin to catch on.

Looking back at this experience, I will most certainly remember my growth and development as a person. I was given a lot of responsibility and was initially sort of overwhelmed, but it did not take long for me to become comfortable in my position. If it were not for Kyle giving me such a great position as exhibit manager, I would not have developed as I have mentioned above. This experience is one I will never forget for many reasons, but most certainly because of the trust that was put in me from the beginning that allowed me to flourish so much.

Although the internship program is officially over, I will be staying with Foodseum for a little while longer. Our first, exhibit, “The Hot Dog and Encased Meats of the World”, opens in mid-September and I want to follow it through to the end.

– Taylor Jennings

As a finale to the 2015 Startup Internship Program, please watch a short video, with comments from all 6 student interns.