By: Hunter Donovan
This summer, I had the privilege of completing an Ogallala Commons internship with the business, Retread Threads. These past few months have been incredible. I have been able to learn so many incredible things and grow my personal and professional skills. I am very grateful for this amazing opportunity and experience.
Throughout my internship, I had the opportunity to learn more about Retread Threads and the community as a whole while completing several “main projects”. I also got to spend numerous hours doing “behind the scenes” work to help learn the ins and outs of maintaining a good business. Some of the biggest tasks I was able to do throughout my first few weeks of working include: learning about the store and its history, steaming clothes, tagging pants, and sorting through donations. As time went on, I began to get more involved and do more work with customers and help make decisions for the store. For example, I was able to start pricing household items and holding clothes back to be marked as “boutique.” I truly think that this training and experience was extremely beneficial and taught me a lot about how to price items and ensure I am making the best decisions for a company as a whole. I also had the privilege of working with customers and other staff members. Not only was I able to help check customers out, but I also had the opportunity to interact with them, help make posters and displays, help organize and decorate the store, and help make promotional materials. I believe all these tasks taught me a great deal and will help me tremendously down the road if I choose to create my own company! Throughout my time, I was given several tasks and challenges. Although some were not as enjoyable as others, I am extremely grateful for all the lessons they taught me and all the experience I was able to obtain.
My biggest highlight from this experience would have to be meeting new people and helping others. This nonprofit business has always been a part of my life as I used to volunteer there as a child. It was so much fun coming back and being able to integrate my ideas into the store. It was also so nice being able to meet other customers, staff members, and other Ogallala Common interns and mentors! I am very thankful I was able to come and help make a difference in the store. I am so happy I was able to help others within my community and beyond by sorting through and helping mark clothes to be sold at affordable prices or to be donated to Orphan Train! I loved seeing the impact I was able to help make while assisting with the stores’ efforts!
The biggest challenge I faced while completing this internship would probably be time management. Although I was able to become more organized while working, I still faced a few time-related issues. For example, I was gone for different leadership training for a good portion of June which left me with less time to complete my hours. Another issue I ran into was that I babysit my brother often during the summer. It was hard at times trying to gauge when I worked to ensure I would get enough hours while still fulfilling other obligations. Although this was a struggle at times, I truly did learn a lot about proper time management and I will keep those lessons with me down the road.
At the beginning of my internship, I was able to set several goals I hoped to achieve over the summer. One of my first main goals was I hoped to contribute new ideas and programs that would benefit Retread Threads and the community. I feel like I was able to accomplish this goal as I helped promote and give feedback regarding new promotions and sales. Not only did these new promotions help increase business, but members of the community also benefited with even lower prices! Another goal that I had initially set was to increase my leadership skills. Over the summer, I was able to accomplish this by developing new time-management, entrepreneurial, collaboration, and problem-solving skills with relevant experiences! Another goal I had set was to grow my business and professional knowledge. I was able to accomplish this as I learned all the steps of maintaining a business like Retread Threads, learned how to price various items, and learned how to ensure your business is prosperous. I was also able to fulfill this goal as I was able to work with others and learn how to serve others respectfully. One connection-expansion goal that I had set for myself was that I wanted to help advocate and speak about small businesses and communities. I was able to complete this throughout the summer as I met with hundreds of customers and visited with members of my community and beyond about shopping local. I was also able to complete this by sharing the “Commonwealth Assets” that are present in small communities like Haxtun, Colorado!
In the end, I am happy that I completed this internship. It truly was such an incredible experience that will help me down the road. I am very happy with the work I was able to complete and to have had the opportunity to have relevant work experience that related to my passions. I am also beyond thankful for the support I was given from my family and friends. More than anything, I am so thankful to Ogallala Commons and Retread Threads for this incredible experience that I will never forget!