Interning for five days doesn’t seem like a lot, but at the Co-op, I found that five days was enough to make me grow as a person profoundly. As part of my 8th grade school program, I got to choose any place to intern at within reasonable distance. My first choice was Chico Natural Foods, and within a few days and a few emails, I was set to work with Joey Haney (the Co-ops brand coordinator) in all the departments in the store save the kitchen.
My first day as being the Co-op’s intern (I got a pin with my name on it, declaring that I was indeed the intern—it was very exciting), I did part of the orientation with Laura (bookkeeper/administrative assistant), in which I learned about the principles of Chico Natural Foods and their deep connection with the community. I had gone into this internship without a large understanding of what a cooperative is, and I think that this orientation really opened my mind into the deep history of what a co-op is at its sole definition. They are there to aid the community, they are owned and operated by the community, and they try to have as much community-connection as possible. Though I was mostly staying in the same spot for the first day of my internship, it was probably one of the most interesting days of the experience.
Day two was my first official experience with customers. Donning my apron with the Co-op logo on it, I placed myself in the front end of the store with cashier Rowan and floor manager Meghan, where I bagged goods and roamed the shelves nearby, twisting and turning the products to make them look as appealing as possible. Obviously customer service is a large part of working in a Cooperative, and I got a wide variety of customer experiences this day, all of which I will use as a learning experience for the future. Day three was equally as exciting, and I worked in the packaged goods section. By this point, I was acquiring somewhat of a connection with staff, and I was happy to find that all of them were extremely welcoming and helpful—over the course of these five days, they have all aided in my learning experience at the Co-op in a wonderful way.
My fourth day interning, I worked alongside Hannah, a produce clerk, in (you guessed it) the produce section. Stocking and clearing out the veggies, fruits and roots that frequented these shelves was fun and new every time I opened a box to stock a bin.
Before I knew it, Friday was upon us, and so was my last day interning at Chico Natural Foods. As I write this, the day comes to a close, but it was one of my favorite experiences yet. Working with Joey, we focused all day in marketing. I took photos and edited Easter displays that I organized with chocolate eggs, sour jelly beans and some classic chocolate bunnies. Finally, Joey picked up an incredibly furry white bunny full-body costume, and, changing into the outfit, announced that we would take some Easter pictures to possibly post on social media. The hilarious costume was apparently so realistic that kids shouted from inside cars and across the street at Joey (“It’s the Easter Bunny!”). He was even touchingly gifted two candy-filled plastic eggs from some adoring admirers. It was definitely the highlight of my day.
No, five days isn’t quite enough. If it were possible, I would intern here for weeks and weeks to come. I couldn’t have asked for a better store to work at. From hilarious bunny costumes to humbling customer experiences, Chico Natural Foods is certainly a wonderful place to have a first job experience. My time at the Co-op has been more than anything I could have wished for, and I know that I have grown so much thanks to the wonderful staff and customers in the store.