Cow Appreciation Day 2019

Hi, Buckeyes!

Just wanted to give you all a brief update on one of my projects that was just completed!

As you may or may not know, Tuesday July 9th was Cow Appreciation Day. Now, what does that mean? Well, every year around the midpoint of summer, Chick-fil-A offers free entrees to those who come to the restaurant dressed like a cow. This day is easily one of the busiest times of year for Chick-fil-A restaurants around the country. Many of the full-time staff members at the corporate office go out into the field to serve in the restaurants that day as many of the stores are working above their normal volume.

However, some staff members stick behind during that day. So, to continue the celebration back at the Support Center, I was tasked with planning the events that day. At the beginning of the summer, I was given a set budget and was told to run with it. Here are some of the things I planned:

July 8th: Pre-Hype Day

-Gave away four sets of tickets to Atlanta Braves and Atlanta United games. During lunch, those who found plush cows taped under their chairs were winners!

-Had some interns walk around in cow costumes passing out candy to get the office excited for the next day’s activities.

July 9th: Cow Appreciation Day

-In the cafeteria, we had a cow appreciation wall where employees were encouraged to write their appreciation for Chick-fil-A on black sticky notes and place it as a cow spot on to a cow wall decal.

-Bright & early in the morning, we held a pancake breakfast featuring the interns as the chefs

-At lunch we held a cow costume contest and played fun music. The winner of the costume contest received a Yeti Cooler with summer time goodies inside.

-In the afternoon, we did a fishbowl drawing for another three sets of Atlanta Braves baseball tickets.

The Support Center staff enjoyed the day by dressing up and bringing their kids along to enjoy the hype. It was definitely a success!

Here some pictures of the day:

Quick post but just wanted to give you all an update of the last week!

Until next time,

Jocelyn

Project Updates

A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to travel back to Grand Rapids for a few days, where all the interns visited the distribution center in Lansing, Michigan.  We toured several different buildings and were able to see the entire process as we toured.  This includes how product is stored, how several machines go back and forth and up and down across the storage aisles selecting the correct products for a pallet, and finally how the machines put together the pallets so that way they are organized and everything that needs to go to a specific store is accounted for. It was amazing getting to see this entire process, since all I’ve known before was how my store receives product from the truck.  Another building we toured was specifically for temperature control product such as produce and dairy.  This building had very strict regulations of how product can be stored, since it is crucial to make sure that our customers get the best produce possible.  My favorite part of this visit was seeing where the bananas are stored, since Meijer ripens their own bananas to ensure they are fresh.  The next day I was supposed to volunteer at the LPGA tournament in Grand Rapids, but it rained most of the day so it was cancelled.  My fellow interns and I were able to spend more time relaxing at the hotel and explore Grand Rapids some more before going to the airport.  The highlight of my trip was sprinting through the Chicago airport on our way back, since our first flight was delayed and so we almost missed our connecting flight.  We finally made it home though!  The past few weeks, I’ve been really focusing on my presentation for my project.  I will be presenting in four weeks to executives in Grand Rapids about what I’ve learned this summer and how I’ve tackled the issue of eliminating stock-outs in pets and HBC, and I’d like to share more of what I’ve learned!  I have been continuing to update BOHs in order to ensure that product has the correct inventory in the system, but I’ve also been focusing on creating a schedule for stocking product to the floor.  I’ve been keeping track of six different categories (dog treats, dog bagged food, dog canned food, cat litter, cat bagged food, cat canned food) and counting how many stock-outs I observe every morning.  I do this after live load is stocked from the truck, but before backstock is ran.  I also have been keeping track of what M carts are being stocked each day.  I have been selecting one of the worst days for product being in stock, and then finding how many days since it has been stocked until out of stocks gets past the worst day again.  My goal is to ensure with the schedule I create that out of stock items are not getting back to the worst day I observed them at. Once I know how often each category needs to be stocked, I will come up with a schedule so that every day, the IC knows what product needs to be worked.  This is mostly what I will be presenting on in a few weeks.  I’ll be sharing more advice and updates about the rotations I’ve completed in my next post!

Work Update, Favorite Places in NYC

Its week five now and things have really picked up steam as far as what I am able to do on the day-day basis and as far as the multitude of projects and programs I’m expected to work on/keep track of. It’s been a lot to get used to, but now that I am in the swing of things and do not have to ask questions every five minutes, I feel as though I can contribute to the group in a meaningful way. Every day, I’m able to come in and send out my morning briefing to the group that I’m a part of (50 or so people under this direct group) . From there, I begin to go through e-mails and usually have meetings until just before lunch. At this point most people take lunch, but lately I’ve been going back to my desk to get started on the things that were discussed in meetings. I have found this allows me to ask questions when my team gets back for lunch about the projects before they get on calls in the afternoon. This helps me get everything done in the day and still have time to network when I can.

The team culture has been phenomenal though and although the workloads are large and they expect precision work, the team is always there to give encouraging advice on how to improve and they help when I ask questions.

Aside from work, NYC is fun. The city is absolutely amazing and if you’ve never been, it is a must visit. The skyline is unreal, the Brooklyn bridge at sunrise/sunset when taking the Q into Manhattan, Central Park on Sunday (or any day really), being able to try new food every day, the architecture, etc… the point is the city has so much to see from architecture to people to the subways that its the experience that matters the most. I’ve been able to explore the city a decent amount as a lot of the interns live all around and I have been able to narrow down a few of my favorite spots.

Brooklyn:

-Promenade Park: perfect view of the skyline – where all the famous pictures are taken from, lots of cool bars, parks

-Prospect Park: I think it’s the 2nd biggest park behind Central Park in NYC? Anyway, park is great – tons of fields, picnic spots, running

-Dumbo/Brooklyn Heights: cool bars/art scene – similar to Short North

-Coney Island: I’ve never been but people say its a must before I leave, beach, boardwalk, hot dogs

Manhattan:

East Village: Great place, lots of younger people, fun bar scene, best restaurants, hard to get to by subway

Chelsea: Best art scene, best market in town – think North Market x10

Lower East Side: Great place to go out, lots of shops, food, near Brooklyn, central point for all

Central Park: The gem of the city, spend an entire Sunday there with a book, and playing pickup sports with strangers all day. You’ll meet some amazing people. Go for a run around the Kennedy Reservoir  as well, amazing views.

Upper East/West Side: The richest parts of the city along with Tribeca. Right next to Central Park on opposite sides. Amazing views, shopping, food, big luxury places, best views of city

SOHO/NOHO: Stands for North/South of Houston. All the modern shops, fun bars, and unique things people post on their Instagrams are here. Best shops and lots of good food, good location, overall fun area. Near Little Italy/Chinatown

 

Other Musts:

-Yankees game (Bronx): It’s a Yankees game, you have to go.

-Hoboken (NJ): Great view of NYC from New Jersey, where a ton of college, younger people live. It’s cheaper and has a lot of really fun activities always going on. Downside is you have to take the PATH there rather than the subway

-Pier A: Best view of the Statue of Liberty you can get from land, plus its a giant bar/grill that has ‘beat the clock’ on Saturdays & is filled with interns/grad students.

-Sightsee Manhattan: be a tourist, its fun

-The MET

Make Allies

My position’s been compromised.

Okay, not really, but it definitely expands beyond my job description nowadays.

As my company’s confidence in me has noticeably grown, I’ve taken on a lot more responsibilities and have had a lot less supervision. In times of being Big Boss Second in Command on the frontlines and feeling like I’ve been thrown to the wolves, it can be difficult to resist wanting to go crawl under a table in the back corner of the copy room and hyperventilate into a paper bag. The analogy of Mr. Incredible trying to run through a hail/rain of those black, growing, sticky things but soon gets completely absorbed keeps going through my head. While I know that navigating uncharted territory without someone to show me the way is undoubtedly shaping me as a business professional, it’s also a little frustrating when I’m not able to receive the guidance or answers that I need in fuzzy areas. But I’m still trying my best to maintain my prettiest smile and halo over my head as I walk out of the office at the end of the day with more and more homework or projects. I know I can’t really complain, because I love my internship, but it’s hard not to fold under the pressure sometimes. I’ve started relying heavily on my friend and coworker, Stephanie, to help me in areas where I’m not getting the clarification or support I need from my higher-ups, and that has helped tremendously. I guess, bottom line…make allies, keep your head up, know ‘no pain, no gain’, and watch The Incredibles.

 

Day to Day at an Amazon Fulfillment Center

Most simply put, a day at an Amazon Fulfillment Center is…long and hectic. My schedule is Wednesday through Saturday 7 to 5:30. More realistically, though, I work about 6:30 to 6, sometimes 7 on longer nights. Each shift brings different challenges, decisions, and successes. I’ll go through what a “typical” day might look like while working the floor.

I clock in at 6:30 to meet with the Area Managers and Process Assistants (AMs and PAs) in Inbound. We plan for the day, which consists of staffing, planning for volume, and ensuring balance between the two Inbound departments, Receive and Stow. We then discuss goals for the day, barriers that might arise, and head our separate ways for the shift to start at 7. The associates clock in at 7, and I start morning “standup” for Stow around 7:05. Standup is just a pre-shift meeting where we share successes from the previous day, give any announcements the associates need to hear, lead stretches to keep the associates loose, and provide tips for standard work and safety in the workplace. Then the associates head to work, and I stay back with the PAs and AM in case any of the associates have questions, issues, etc. After everyone clears out, we head back to reconcile with the other department to adjust the plan as needed after seeing who did/didn’t show up that day.

As the morning goes on, I typically try to station myself where the Stow associates can easily find me. They’ll often have questions about the work process, what their productivity rate is, if they’ve made any errors, etc., so I like to be in a position where they can come ask me. As an intern, there are a lot of questions I don’t know the answer to, but I can typically contact someone that *does* know. I will also walk between the two Inbound departments, making sure Receive also has the support they need. There’s an hourly rollup of volume and rates that I check throughout the day. Some days also include giving feedback to associates, both good and bad.

Before every break, we meet up again at “sync” to adjust the plan, check up on volume, share safety callouts, and discuss barriers. This regroup is really important, and it helps us figure out what adjustments need to be made going into the next quarter of the day. Breaks are at 9:15, 11:45 (lunch), and 2:45. We meet for sync 20-30 minutes before these breaks and typically take that whole time to talk about performance over the past quarter. I usually have to hurry up walking up front to clock out for lunch at 11:45. The walk from our sync spot to the front of the building is a solid few minutes, even walking quickly. Amazon doesn’t let hourly employees take a lunch shorter than 30 minutes, and I lead afternoon standup at 12:20. Sometimes sync goes pretty long, but luckily I can just ask the AM, who is salary rather than hourly, to do standup. If I wasn’t there, that’s who would lead it.

The afternoon plays out similarly to the morning, and any barriers are addressed as they come. The associates clock out right at 5:30, but I will typically stay a little later. I discuss the day with the AMs, double check that all the associates are good to go, and look over the day’s successes. I typically prepare something for morning standup and see how all of the Stow associates worked throughout the day. Once everything seems good to go for night shift to take over, I clock out and head home.

A couple exceptions to this daily routine do happen pretty regularly. We always have two meetings on Wednesdays, because the two shifts overlap and all managers are there. After lunch is the SPPR (I have NO idea what it stands for) meeting for the Inbound managers. This meeting is meant to go over the pending feedback, including written warnings and terminations. AMs have to go through these to check their validity. Any invalid feedback is either exempted or demoted to a lower severity. The HR team also attends the meeting to make sure the proper guidelines for feedback are being followed. The Senior Operations Manager runs SPPR. The other meeting is at 5 on Wednesdays, and it’s also run by the Senior Operations Manager. This meeting is for all Inbound AMs and Operations Managers on both days and nights. This meeting discusses overall productivity, volume plans, labor changes, cost, performance, etc. The agenda varies every week, and it facilitates a lot of discussion.

Overall, the days consist of constant decision making and continuous planning and re-planning. One shift can include multiple labor changes, safety incidents, or other barriers that cause difficulty for the associates. As leaders, we have to make quick decisions to remove these barriers and allow the associates to work with increased productivity. The 10 hours can seem very long, but they also sometimes fly by with all of the running around (I average 6+ miles of walking per day) and making decisions at the drop of a hat. It’s an environment where things have to be fixed quickly. I honestly think the best part about the daily life at Amazon is that there is no “typical” day.