Vitamin Cottage Natural Grocers, now a wide spread health food chain, was founded by Margaret and Phillip Isely in 1955. They were inspired to start this company by Margaret’s own personal health story of healing her chronic illness through nutrition when conventional medicine failed her. They started small by going door-to-door in their community, offering books on nutrition and alternative healing to their neighbors, and then returning to take orders for dietary supplements. Since then the company has flourished, with stores across the United States and in Canada offering a large selection of dietary supplements as well as grocery, body care products, and free nutrition education. Although the company is now publicly owned, they have managed to maintain their founding principles, which are to offer nutrition education to their communities, affordable pricing on their products, and the highest quality of products. The story of the company’s origins is still an integral part of the company and a driving force for maintaining their founding principles. It is still referred to in countless employee trainings and classes.
As an intern I work within the Nutrition Education Department (NED), Marketing, and Multimedia Departments. So my schedule and responsibilities varies day-to-day. Within the NED, I work with their recipes, reformatting recipe handouts, creating new recipe handouts, auditing recipes, condensing feedback on recipes, and adding tested recipes to the company’s website. I assist with the department’s administrative work, sending out store mailings and preparing for the department’s monthly meetings. During my time at the company the admin for the NED quit and I was able to cover many of her responsibilities in her absence. I was asked to train the replacement for the admin position on several of the jobs responsibilities. This was a great learning experience for me, both having to take on more responsibilities within the department and in turn pacing them on and training a new hire.
In the marketing department I worked on a few assigned research projects and also assisted other co-workers with their projects as need arose. This often consisted of mailing tents, branded table clothes, or store coupons to various stores to assist them with their individual outreach efforts. My research projects were mainly focused on competitor’s pricing and outreach opportunities with public schools for each store location.
I was fortunate to have the opportunity to work with the company’s multimedia department. The majority of my work with this department consisted of editing videos, often for in store employee trainings, assisting with photo or video shots, attending meetings on upcoming projects, and setting up microphones for large meetings. Although I did not spend as much time working in the multimedia department the experience was great for expanding my own skills in this field and getting a taste of possible carriers in media arts.
I enjoyed the diversity of responsibilities and projects my position afforded me, as well as the autonomy to manage my time as I saw fit to accomplish my work within the company. My schedule was always flexible allowing me to assist with any events or special projects that arose, from setting up for the annual stockholders meeting to cooking a healthy lunch for high school students to enjoy on their carrier day field trip to one of the store locations in Denver. Aspects of my position such as the office and computer work could become tedious, but I greatly appreciate the work experience I gained and the opportunity to learn from my intelligent co-workers about nutrition, nutrition education, media arts, and marketing research.