I was asked to help the retail team manager with some big product launches. Buddy’s is currently working on two product launches for a major coffee retailer.
—Jacob Burke ’18

 By Jacob Burke ’18
Dubai, U.A.E.; originally Dublin, Ireland
Internship: Buddy’s Kitchen, Burnsville, Minn.

Buddy’s is a prepackaged food manufacturer specializing in ready-to-eat products. The company has an office staff of 35 and a production floor staff of at least 300, but the size of the company is expected to nearly double soon as Buddy’s expands to a new building in Lakeville, Minn.

On my first day, I worked on the production line for all eight hours, making an apple strata product for one of the elite airlines. I experienced all the different stations from prepping to packing. The mixing element was very hard work and showed me just how physically grueling this type of work can be. It taught me a vital lesson in the field of operations—that in order to understand how things are done, you must actually engage in them.

The production floor experience gave me another layer of understanding. For example, when doing the cost models, it is clear why there is an additional cost for products that involve mixing. The following two days, I worked on the loading docks in the warehouse. It is crazy to see just how efficient the full-time employees are when it comes to boxing and ‘prepping’ the food.

If I am being honest, I never expected to be doing that sort of work during my internship. However, looking back, it was essential. I now have a much greater understanding of all of the moving parts in the company. During my three days working with predominantly Thai and Vietnamese men and women, I learned a lot. Every task I was given relied on efficiency, and I was often corrected to allow the company to optimize production.

In the following weeks, I worked with the quality assurance team. Buddy’s Kitchen is Safe Quality Food Level Three certified (SQF 3),  with both organic and gluten-free certifications. Buddy’s does frequent food safety tests and sends samples off to third-party labs so that they can ensure the safest and best quality food for their clients.

One Monday, Dave Smith ’80, CEO, gave me a stack of monthly financial statements and asked me to create a more comprehensive set of financial statements. Thankfully, economics professor Jeff Evans had taught me well and I had a lot of fun creating these financial documents. After completing these, Dave wanted me to create graphs of the growing revenues and the division and customer split of these revenues for a presentation.

After this, I was asked to help the retail team manager with some big product launches. Buddy’s is currently working on two product launches for a major coffee retailer.

At Buddy’s, one of the core values is open and honest communication. Dave Smith talks through his vision, goals, and five-year plan with the entire office staff. He also hands out copies of the book that has inspired his management practices.

At the end of the summer, Dave offered me the opportunity to continue the internship throughout the semester from campus and I accepted straight away. In addition, Dave offered to be my domestic host family for my final two years at Mac, which I am extremely excited about.

January 16 2017

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