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Update: Katie made such on impact on the team at Verizon Wireless that shortly after her visit she was invited to interview for the RLDP and was hired! Stay tuned for updates to Katie's story and learn how you could be next!
 
Day 1
Tuesday
Today is my first day of the Experience.com and Verizon Wireless Defining Moments Trip to Schaumburg, Illinois. As I boarded the bus from Notre Dame to O'Hare, I was a little nervous. I didn't know anyone coming into the experience. Also, I was not sure what I should expect. In the communication that I had with Samantha from Experience.com, she informed me that I would be shadowing Kristen Gerstenberger a member of the Retail Leadership Development Program at Verizon Wireless and Byron Strange a recent RLDP graduate and then interviewing Marni Walden, Midwest Area President. So, while I had the "facts", I had no idea what to expect from this experience.

I arrived at the airport at 6:45 PM, where Samantha and Tony from Experience.com picked me up. They were so cordial and friendly, which put my nerves at ease. We packed up my bags and headed to the Wildfire restaurant to meet up with Kim and Jennifer, Byron, and Teja and Matt. Dinner was great. Everyone was so welcoming and provided me with a lot of valuable information about not only the company, but what it is like to start your first career. As a senior graduating in May, I'm not quite sure what to expect from the workplace. Everyone provided me with some wonderful advice that I intend to use!

After dinner, we checked into the Hyatt Place in Schaumburg. The hotel was beautiful! I had a really nice room with a huge bed. Before going to bed, I'm reviewing tomorrow's activities and preparing some questions for Kristen and Byron. Thanks to everyone's kindness, I am definitely a lot less nervous about the day. I'm going to head to bed...we have a 6:00 AM call in the morning!!

While in Schaumburg Katie had the chance to rub elbows with some influential team members from Verizon Wireless and Experience.com:
Verizon Wireless
Marni Walden
Area President of the Midwest
Kim Allenbach
Director of Employee Experience
Jennifer Berniz
Consultant on the Employee Experience team
John Avitia
District Manager Retail Sales
Kristen Gerstenberger
Member of the Retail Leadership Development Program (RLDP)
Byron Strange
Retail Sales Assistant Manager (RLDP graduate)

Experience.com
Tony Lopes
Director
Samantha Holland
Marketing Specialist
Teja Arboleda
Producer, Editor
Matt Thurber
Production Assistant/Assistant Camera

Day 2
Wednesday
Today was absolutely wonderful. 5:00 AM came way too quickly! I got ready for the day and went downstairs to meet Samantha and Tony in the lobby. Today's shoot and job shadow was taking place in the Verizon Wireless Evolution store in Addison, Illinois, about 20 minutes away from Schaumburg. After getting a little lost, we arrived at the store and began preparing for production. The design of the store was really cool. The environment was very bright and welcoming. When we entered, Verizon Wireless District Manager John Avitia was there to greet us. I was very impressed with how he looked each one of us in the eye and shook our hands both when he met us and before he left. John showed us around the store and introduced me to Kristen Gerstenberger. I've never been involved in a shoot like this before and it was a really neat experience.

Next, it was time to do what I really came for: the job shadow! Although being on camera was fun, I was interested in learning about the program from Kristen. In Verizon Wireless' eyes, she was a superstar and I quickly saw why they thought so. Kristen's hard work and attention to detail has helped her become so successful in the program. She and Byron Strange provided some helpful insight into the program. Also, they let me come onto the sales floor with them and experience working with a customer. Kristen and Byron were wonderful people to talk to about the program. They were great mentors!

After some reflection, I feel like Verizon Wireless is definitely a place where I can see myself working. I have never worked in a retail environment before, but I thoroughly enjoyed being there today. This program really opened my eyes to a new career opportunity.

I'm very excited to meet with Marni tomorrow, so it's time to go to bed!



Day 3
Thursday
Today was another early call-7:00 AM-but I was so excited I could barely sleep. I was participating in a "Reverse Interview" with Marni Walden, Midwest Area President of Verizon Wireless. Very rarely is a college student able to interview the Area President of a major corporation. This is such a unique opportunity and I'm so fortunate to have been a part of it.

Prior to meeting Marni, I worked on a few production things with Teja and Matt. Marni came in around 10:00 AM and honestly, she was a very cool person. She is an incredibly intelligent woman, who is very kind and genuine. As I listened to her speak, Marni illustrated the importance of hard work and perseverance through adversity. She offered some great advice that I will keep with me forever.

Overall, this has been an incredible experience. Careers in retail at Verizon Wireless are something I will now consider, especially for a young person like me. Verizon Wireless provides great sales experience, an open environment to learn in, and unprecedented customer interaction. I cannot thank Verizon Wireless and Experience.com enough for providing me with this experience!
 
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