When Ben Fulfer helped organize the TOMS “Style Your Sole” event on campus in fall 2010, he had no idea it would lead to an internship with the company known for donating one pair of shoes to a needy child for every pair purchased.
Out of 5,000 applicants, Ben was one of 40 chosen for an internship with TOMS.
“I feel like the person I was entering college had a rough side, and ACU helped smooth me into someone who has the potential to change our world,” says Ben. “After college, in talking to people about their universities, I really found what a strange, wonderful place ACU is.”
At ACU, Ben was one of several students who worked behind the scenes to coordinate the visit of TOMS founder and “chief shoe giver” Blake Mycoskie to campus.
During the visit, a TOMS employee told Ben about the internship. “She recommended I apply, so I did,” Ben says. He was offered a job in the retail marketing department.
Ben graduated in December, took a few weeks to unwind, then moved to Los Angeles knowing he had a job and a start date, but no place to live. He got lucky finding a place on Craigslist. And it turns out he and his new roommates have connections to old friends from ACU.
People helping people
As a sociology major, Ben was all about helping people. So the internship, though focusing on the business side of TOMS, has turned out to be a perfect fit.
“I had no business being in business – no pun intended. I just got placed here through my interview process and have been developing marketing skills on the fly,” he says.
His job includes sales, making calls to retail stores to set up window displays and planning events similar to ACU’s Style Your Sole party. “It feels sometimes like I’m doing seven things at once. It’s pretty intense, but I love the work. Living in L.A. isn’t bad either,” he says with a chuckle.
“I’m in a whole new realm, but it’s fun learning so much about the business world so quickly – seeing how a good company is run from the very top to the very bottom. I’m getting to work with some of the top shoe designers and business minds. It’s great to see.”
Ben says TOMS corporate mission fits nicely with his own. “TOMS is a company at the forefront in helping people in a very innovative way,” he says.
“One of the really great things about TOMS is that everything we do is focused on the kids we help. It runs through the whole culture. We’re expected to treat everyone openly, honestly and with respect, very much with the same attitude that we have toward the kids.”
And where does Ben think this experience will take him next? “My personal aspiration has always been to help people. TOMS is showing me how you can grow in business and help people at the same time. It leads me to think you can do whatever you want in your working life and still make an impact on the world.”