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Sarah Mandlebaum ’19

Internship Spotlight: Sarah Mandlebaum ’19

What are you doing this summer? We asked rising second-year MBA students to check in from their summer internships, where they are applying the lessons of their first year at Yale SOM.

Sarah Mandlebaum ’19

Internship: Daily Table, Boston, Massachusetts

Hometown: Bloomfield Hills, Michigan
Favorite Yale SOM class: Yale Center for Customer Insights Discovery Project, PepsiCO
Favorite professor: Art Swersey
Favorite Yale SOM community event: Garstka Cup
Favorite New Haven eatery: Ivy Wok

I spent my summer at Daily Table, a nonprofit grocery store in Boston, whose mission is to provide healthy food at truly affordable prices.  My objective for the summer was to develop a training program for the retail staff.  Since I had never worked in a grocery store before this, my first action was to spend a few days working as a retail employee to get to know the people and the processes already in place.  Bagging groceries and stocking shelves is probably not what most people expect to be doing on the first days of their summer MBA internship, but it was quite interesting—and fun! 

Because Daily Table is a small organization, it was up to me to figure out the best way to tackle the project and follow through on it.  I quickly discovered that before training, there had to be standards to train against, and only a few existed.  So, step one was to identify the “easy win” issues that needed a standard operating procedure.  For example, we developed a standard for when to staff a new cash register.  Everyone knows that if the line is getting long, another cashier is needed, but everyone might have a different definition of “long.”  I worked with the retail staff to develop a standard, testing and tweaking as needed. 

“This internship was certainly an interdisciplinary experience and it was a great stage for bringing much of what I learned in my first year at SOM to life.” Sarah Mandlebaum ’19 

I also thought about how to equip the store managers with a way to easily communicate expectations, track employee-training progress, track employee performance, and reward performance.  I ended up relying on my experience working at Zingerman’s Deli in Ann Arbor when I was an undergrad.  I also found myself using much of what we learned in our Employee course.  In the end, I helped design a booklet for employees, containing a checklist of trainings and expectations, with inspiration from Zingerman’s and Trader Joe’s. 

At times it was difficult to stay in scope, because the retail operations were connected to procurement, kitchen operations, etc.—plus, the retail staff had so many great suggestions and ideas.  But on the plus side, I got to meet and have thorough discussions with many dedicated and passionate people, including founder Doug Rauch, a former president at Trader Joe’s. 

It was certainly an interdisciplinary experience and it was a great stage for bringing much of what I learned in my first year at SOM to life.  One of my favorite days was getting to ride with the Daily Table truck driver, going around to pick up our daily inventory from various manufacturers and distributors in the Boston area, including the New England Produce Market, one of the largest wholesale markets in the world.  It was a great experience, and I’m so appreciative of Michael Malmberg ’14 for giving me the opportunity and to the Internship Fund, which made it possible.