Friday, August 22, 2014

A Love Letter to Minneapolis: My Minnesota Summer

By Julia Wilcox, MBA'15

This post originally appeared on Arts to Business, a blog by MBA students Julia Wilcox and Ellen Gartner Phillips, two performers who met at the Kelley School of Business

I’m in my car, driving around 3M campus, trying to figure out what in the heck is going on with this map HR sent us. I’m turning it upside down and sideways to see if it somehow makes more sense in those configurations. 3M campus is way bigger than I remembered from our Business Marketing Academy trip last fall and I have exactly 15 minutes to make it to our first training before I am officially late. I take a deep breath, trying to calm my anxiety when I spot my roommate’s car in the visitor lot. I park next to her. I couldn’t quite see building 224 from where I was parked, but I figured I’d go in the one marked visitor entrance and just ask. People in Minnesota are sugary nice, and I knew they’d direct me to the right spot. I walk into the door, so self-focused that I fail to realize that I’ve started what looks like the intern-zombie apocalypse behind me. By the time I reach the desk, I have about 10 interns who had for some reason thought I looked put together enough (or just lost enough) to follow into the building. I let out a sigh of relief, thankful that I wasn’t the only idiot who couldn’t figure out the map. The poor receptionist deals with each of us, and makes sure she has somebody hand deliver us to the correct location.

That morning I met Nate, the intern from Duke with whom I’d share the 3M Strategic Business Development (SBD) experience. He would become my carpool buddy and confidant for the summer, the person I’d share my most honest struggles, successes and stories of 3M with. We are in many ways polar opposites, but connect on our mutual love for craft beer, nature and sitting on rooftops. His brain is analytical in all the ways that mine is creative and that gave us balance and the opportunity to learn from each other. He once did a competitive analysis on my dating prospects in Minneapolis, to which I replied “Who are you?” We laughed and then sat in silence, enjoying the sunset from the rooftop of our apartment building.

There were 5 SBD interns that started on May 19th, another wave on June 2nd, and then a final 2 on June 16th. During the week of June 2nd, I met Jinmin (MIT) and Ryan (Michigan), two others with whom I would develop close relationships. Jinmin changed me in ways that I’ll carry the remainder of my life. I’ve become more gracious, kind, direct and comfortable with myself as a result of the friendship I’ve developed with her. One late night we stayed up until 3am watching Louie and eating slightly burned popcorn (I was too busy chatting her ear off to realize I had put the popcorn in the microwave a little too long). I woke up the next morning to find popcorn strewn across the couch where we had sat, a sign of a well-lived evening.

“I got you champagne,” Ryan says. I look down and he’s holding two bottles of Le Croix sparkling water. “Well, work champagne.” It was 4pm, the time of day when Ryan claimed his brain stopped functioning properly and when I was too restless to stand at my desk for another moment. Almost every day, we would meet outside the corporate strategy office at 4pm sharp and take a lap around the quad. On this particular day, I had just finished my final presentation. I was exhausted and wasn’t sure how I’d make it to the end of the day, and then I saw it – that beautiful, sparkling bottle of deliciousness. In the hallway Ryan gave me an enthusiastic “Congrats!”, popped both the tops, then we clinked bottles and set off on our lap. As I approached the first turn he grabbed my arm, pulling me to the side. “Watch out!” he said, slightly too loud for the corporate environment. “The hot lava. You almost stepped in it.” I laughed and said, “Why, thank you, good sir.” I had completely forgotten about my incident a week before, when I wiped out, (gracefully, of course) because my heel slipped in that one pesky spot where the carpet changed to linoleum.

The 3M SBD internship itself was everything I thought it would be. The work was challenging, rewarding and diverse, what one could expect from a $30B company who has its hand in just about everything. What I didn’t expect was to fall in love with Minneapolis, the city I’ll always remember as the place where I stopped running from my life. When I started at Kelley, I remember Eric Johnson saying, “People come to Kelley either running from something, or running to something.” I’ve caught my breath and have had the chance to reflect on what felt like the most emotionally and intellectually challenging year of my life. I can now recognize that I am different and am starting to become a better version of myself. I have fallen completely in love with my life and with the direction it’s going. I have returned to Bloomington happier than I have ever been, to friends that I am so very lucky to have. I am, for the first time in a long, long while, enjoying my day to day, which for now consists of late night snacks with Marie, hugging those I haven’t seen in 12 weeks, dancing in red converse, and eagerly waiting for the rest of my favorites to get back to Bloomington for MBA Year 2.


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