Melyssa Smith pursued her goal of gaining business management and food service operations experience by expanding her responsibilities at Chipotle.
How did you get your internship?
I got my internship through my current job at Chipotle Mexican Grill. I’d been working there for three years mostly as a Certified Trainer and wanted to gain more experience in food service management and business management. I wanted more food service business experience because I would like to open my own business one day. I knew that there was a lot I could learn from my current general manager, so I proposed an internship where I could develop managerial skills and I’m glad I made the choice because I learned a lot of useful information and insight.
What kind of work did you do throughout your internship experience?
I did a lot of work with back of house food safety. I was placed in charge of our walk-in and dry-storage. I learned how to make sure food is being stored, prepared, and served safely. I learned how to take care of food that is not up to our standard upon delivery. I learned how to review our store's sales projections and schedule labor accordingly. And last, but not least, I learned how to be a strong manager that can advocate for our team.
What new skills did you practice and develop in this internship?
This job does test your patience, so I’ve gained a lot of experience working through frustration. My time management skills have also gotten significantly better. There is so much going on all of the time, you need to be able to think quickly and logically. My leadership skills have gotten better as well. I’ve learned how to adapt my communication style to be able to talk to each individual member of my team. It’s important to know how to talk to different people so you can bring the best out in them.
What was the most significant contribution you made?
A contribution I’ve made to the store has to do with walk-in cleanliness and organization. I spend a lot of time making sure that food safety standards are set so the team can succeed. My Apprentice, General Manager, Field Leader, and Team Director have all said that they can tell when I haven't been in the store that day because the walk-in never looks like how I leave it. I ended up getting so good at it that my Apprentice made me in charge of it permanently along with our dry storage.
What did you find challenging about your internship?
Honestly, I found dealing with some of the customers and Doordashers the most difficult. They don’t always understand or care that things like company policy, ingredient shortages, online order speed, or staffing issues most of the time are completely out of our control. Through this, I learned that I am a lot more resilient than I originally gave myself credit for. I’ve been through a lot of things at this store that we as food service workers should not have to. But I now know that I can get through anything a difficult business can throw at me and still come out on top.
How has your internship experience influenced your plans for your future?
I have been greatly influenced by this internship. This internship confirmed that I do still want to pursue the goal of opening my own businesses. In fact, two of my coworkers and I have decided to see if we want to open a small business together. I also have a few solo business ideas in mind. I’m excited to see where my business journey takes me.
What advice do you have for other students as they search for their internship?
Make sure that you're doing something that you're really interested in. Don’t just pick something to get the internship credits over with. This is supposed to prepare you for your future. So make sure that you make the most of it. If you can’t find something, talk with your advisors and the Applied Humanities Internship Team because they all want to help you succeed.