Student Chris Reimer Interns with TOMS

By Trey Flick – It is not often that midwestern college students have an opportunity to pursue a diverse business internship halfway across the United States. A Jewell student, Christopher Reimer, had that chance.

During February, Chris felt like just another applicant to a highly competitive internship for Toms. Six months and three Skype calls later, he was fully prepared for the long drive ahead of him to Playa Vista, a suburb of Los Angles, California. Only time would tell what Chris would learn from this adventure.

Toms Headquarters ended up offering pay, benefits, and networking. This internship gave Chris a great experience in a field he was passionate about. One of his favorite opportunities while at Tom’s was what he referred to as “coffee chats.” This was a chance to meet with senior executives of the company and discuss anything from lunch to ethics in a casual and lighthearted way.

One of these coffee chats was with Blake Mycoskie, the founder of Toms. Throughout the talk, and his whole internship, one idea stuck out to Chris “It’s not what you do; it’s whom you work with.” Blake had a simple idea of making an impact in the world and making a profit as well. He surrounded himself with successful, bright people, and the end result was a leader in ethical culture and the means to make a profit while improving the world.

One of the things Chris enjoyed about the internship was the relaxed culture at Toms. Everyone worked in the same common area with each other, promoting a feeling that rank and pay didn’t matter. They dressed casually at work, took breaks at leisure in a recreation room, and had designed leisure time every week where employees would simply hang out. Chris explained that Tom’s actually had an incentive for giving back to their employees. The company has an entire department of “Brand Experience”. This department is responsible for nurturing workplace satisfaction and team building. They believe this fosters respect for the company and improves performance.

Another important thing that Chris respected about Toms was their openness that gave him so much out of the experience. Although he had a specific role in the marketing department, all the interns experienced real problems that the company is working on in other roles such as human resources, the creative department, and the giving department. Through this process, all aspects of the company are experienced regardless of a specific role at the business.

Through his Toms experience, Chris came to better appreciate ethical behavior and professional business methods. His internship is a clear example of the “learn by doing and learn from the best” philosophy of the Department of Business and Leadership.

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