During the summer of May 2012, I, Larry the Intern, started one of my first internships. Little did I know that this internship would turn into something far grander than a “regular” internship. My story does not fully start here, however. A few months prior to May 2012 is when I first applied to a company called Retail Merchants. Retail Merchants is an association of local businesses. The job posting I found through a VCU career website was for a summer internship. Included in this job I would be tasked with writing up newsletters, organizing events, and greeting people. Once I saw what the association stood for I knew I was hooked. It was here that I got to meet some awesome people at Retail Merchants. These individuals include Len East, Julie Hill, and Nancy Thomas.

My first interview was a panel interview by Len and Julie. After telling them my qualifications, they seemed impressed. I am passionate about small business, and I vowed I would someday have my own company and would join the Retail Merchants. I guess that helped since I made it to a second interview! The next stage being a proofreading exercise instantly got me nervous. The more you get to know me the more it becomes quite evident… if I do not have a spell checker, communication can get tricky. After completing both interviews, I waited in hopeful anticipation. A few weeks went by before I finally received the email I was looking for. The email stated, “I just wanted to let you know that we have actually filled the intern position, but I wanted to know if you would be interested in my sending your resume to a member company. I may know of someone in Richmond who would be interested in talking to you about an internship. We were so impressed with your capabilities, and I know you could add so much wherever you go.” With this email I was both excited and hopeful, maybe just maybe I have finally found an internship.

“It s called Ball Office Products, and they are expanding this summer. Great local company. The governor was just there on Friday holding a press conference because they are a good small business that is doing well. I will forward your resume to Melissa Ball. Good luck!”, said Len East. With this news I was hopeful;summer was here and I had hopes of an internship. While waiting to hear back from Melissa, I was on a Christian leadership retreat. I was praying this would be the summer where I would get an internship. On the way back from the retreat, I noticed a new voice mail. It was Melissa Ball! The message stated that I had gotten the internship and that she knew I was on the retreat and to not worry about the position being taken by someone else. Never in my life did I think I would ever be told that from a business owner, ”enjoy your time at the retreat, you’re not competing for your internship position. I’ll see you soon.”

I could keep going on with my story, but I will save you the details. Many memories were made and a family was made. What turned into, “just for the summer” turned into “just for the fall” to “you can stay as long as you need to.” That is my story; I still remain “Larry the Intern” even though I am going on over a year and a half at Ball. My job description has changed some since I first started at Ball. I currently work full time as the manager at ABEC Electronics, and I also own two businesses, Connect Cup and Legacy Roasting Company. What has not changed, however, is that I am still working at Ball Office Products just behind the scenes!

I am so thankful to Melissa, Jonathan and everyone at Ball Office Products for being my mentors and for giving me so much experience and advice. It is a memory I will always cherish. I will close this entry to say that “ Larry the Intern” is still here at Ball Office Products, and if you have not heard of us in the past, or have not done business with us, I hope this post gives you insight as to how great of a company it truly is!