Jeff Bell ’14: Taking Liberal Arts Education to the Workplace

Jeff Bell ’14:  Setting about the task of synthesizing these last two months of my life is quite an intimidating feat to attempt, but I will try to do justice to the spectacular experiences that I have found around every corner of my time in California, as I’ve taken part in a job provided by the Small Business Internship Fund.  Before I dive into a fuller explanation of my time here and how it has been spent, I find it necessary to thank those whose generous contributions made my time in this internship possible (although it would seem there are more people deserving of thanks than I have space to write).  First, thanks to those whose generous contributions to the SBIF allow for interns like myself to travel the country in pursuit of furthering their education through workplace experience.  Your faith in us is humbling and your generosity is inspiring.  A hearty thanks must also be extended to Scott Crawford for the tireless hours that he pours into this program, ensuring that it is successful for the numerous Wabash Men who utilize it.  A final warm thank you must be extended to all the friends, family, alumni, and coworkers who I have encountered along the way these past two months.  Although there are far more of you than I can list here, I will always be indebted to you for your never-ending support and interest in the continued education and development offered by my time in California.

I think it important for my reader to first understand that I have been a born and raised Hoosier for my whole life.  Never having lived outside the state of Indiana for more than a month at a time, the idea of sojourning west to California to take part in an exotic and exciting internship inspired a mixture of both curious fascination and nervous apprehension.  The opportunity that had been offered to me by trustee Paul Woolls was a two-month tenure in California.  The first month was to take place in downtown Los Angeles where I would be spending time in his Insurance Litigation firm working in different capacities with the goal of learning more about the legal field.  The second would require that I moved north to the Napa Valley area for a month working in his beautiful Vineyard and Winery.  Now to the average Indiana native, each of these locations brings a certain romantic notion of excitement and joy that can only be brought by adventure and travel.  So needless to say, I was overwhelmingly thrilled to be given the opportunity to move out West and continue honing my talents and pursuing discovery of the career that I wish to spend my life doing.

Plunging into both the legal side of this internship and the slightly more exotic experience of winemaking in Napa Valley, I was expected to display a tremendous versatility in the tasks I was able to perform.  Bouncing back and forth from being a clerk filing legal documents to hand tending the vines of a vineyard required an aptitude for quick learning and a certain curiosity that would keep the steady stream of new tasks from being overwhelming and daunting.  Here the liberal arts education I have received at Wabash College shone through and gave me a special familiarity with learning a variety of tasks and quickly mastering different forms of work.  As an English major, gaining workplace experience has been a critical part of developing my education beyond the great literary works and many hours of writing that fill the curriculum of such students at Wabash.  Internships like the one I have taken part in are a critical part of the growth and development of any Wabash Man, but in particular those whose major might not be deemed “practical” by some individuals in this country.

While I sit and write this blog post I keep looking out the window to my right and breathing in silent awe of the gorgeous Napa Valley landscape.  My employer, Paul Woolls has graciously lent me the guesthouse that sits atop Mt. Veeder and overlooks a certain portion of his estate vineyard.  It is perhaps the most gorgeous part of the country I have ever seen and the peace and tranquility offered by this location stands in stark contrast to the fast paced, vibrant, and oftentimes overwhelming downtown Los Angeles lifestyle.  Getting the opportunity to experience each of these styles of life all while gaining valuable work experience in two drastically different fields is humbling when I stop to reflect on all that it has done for my growth as a person, citizen, and as a Wabash Man.  I now have one and a half weeks before I start the long drive back to Indiana, and in that time I will savor the thrill of living alone in a splendid area filled with new people, places, and adventures.  Although my heart misses my home and family there is something to be said for the thrill that comes from exposing oneself to unfamiliar experiences.  Thank you again so much to all those whose tireless efforts enable these opportunities to benefit young men like myself.

Wabash Always Fights

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