By Bob Franco,
Stillman News Contributor
Anne Szmul is entering her senior year at Seton Hall University with a very interesting double major in accounting and religion.
This diverse range of academic interests extends into her employment.
In her high school years, she dabbled in things like babysitting and tutoring. But the most interesting thing on her resume is her nine years in rabbit breeding.
Szmul started this business in the sixth grade. She learned a lot from something that did not pay a typical wage.
The experience of breeding, selling, keeping inventory, and budgets was indispensable as a child and taught responsibility as well as bookkeeping basics.
Not surprisingly, 99% of the time the first thing interviewers ask about is rabbit breeding.
During her sophomore year at Seton Hall, it seemed like all of Szmul’s friends were getting jobs, which pushed her to explore job openings.
Working in food service had always been on her bucket list and she was fortunate to be hired as the first employee at a local café called “The Dancing Blender”. Beyond smoothie preparation and the rest of the extensive menu, she learned the “life essentials” – like how to use a mop.
“If you have ever been to the Blender and met my boss, his level of dedication to his entrepreneurial dream is incredible,” said Szmul.
Becoming invested in the shop’s growth over its first two years has been an amazing experience contributing both to her personal development and real-world business education.
Szmul also obtained employment with Home Depot the summer between her freshman and sophomore year.
“I applied out of irony as it wasn’t a place I had particularly enjoyed as a child and definitely never saw myself working.”
She started as a cashier and soon became aware of how wonderful the people were around her. Szmul learned how to interact with customers and her fellow employees.
She added, “In retail, one can either develop people skills or learn to despise people. I approached the job with an enthusiasm that I had learned throughout my life, and I came to love the company and the family within it.”
Now, everyone who comes in contact with Szmul knows of her love for Home Depot.
After working two summers and numerous holiday breaks, Szmul’s friends discovered an opportunity to apply for an internship to work for the Home Depot corporate headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia. Junior year for many majors – particularly accounting – is very busy for summer internship applications.
The process to apply was very long and Szmul did not hear from the company for months after her initial interviews.
When she came to the Career Center, her advisor asked if she knew of any local Home Depot Executives and to see if they could be of assistance.
As it turned out, due to her stellar performance in the store, she had gained a positive reputation and a Regional Vice President put in the calls that may have led to her getting a formal offer.
She discussed the experience saying, “Working my way through the process was long but well worth it, and I have learned so much as a result.”
Over the course of the summer internship, Szmul’s most important takeaway was the necessity of being a problem solver.
She gained important experience working independently on corporate-level work and saw how the self-reliance gained in her previous experience continued to be a critical part of her success.
She provided her advice stating that “the ideal internship provides both an insight into entry level duties as well as a well-rounded future look. As there are so many roads to success, choices one makes at the beginning of a career can be very impactful.”
Szmul even had the opportunity to attend a panel discussion for interns to learn about different departments within Home Depot. One panelist was very direct in stating that on the job skills are trainable, however, attitude and passion must already be possessed by a successful candidate.
A very important message to all students is how Szmul’s part-time jobs have been so incredibly influential in her life and have certainly got her to where she is today. Her enthusiasm is clear in her words.
She stated, “I am ready to begin my professional career and see clearly how my academics, jobs, and extracurricular activities are my stepping stones to transitioning into a full time position with a company I love.”
At the end of the internship, her Senior Manager told her how she stood out as a candidate to herself and the department Director.
As it turns out, her grandmother breeds rabbits and that connection was what made the team push for her to be extended an offer to work with them for the summer.
Her last bit of advice was that “resumes are so much more than your experiences; they are insights into who you are as a person”.
A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, October 25th print edition.
Contact Bob at