*Whether grabbing a UG Love from Uncommon Grounds or stocking up on essentials from Vital Vittles, most of the Georgetown community interacts with one of The Corp’s seven services every day. However, few people know how The Corp operates on a daily basis. Josh Feller (COL ’11) was appointed the chief operating officer of The Corp in January of this year. A mathematics major from northwest D.C., Josh met with THE HOYA to explain the inner workings of The Corp.*

**How did you get involved in The Corp?**

I got involved with The Corp the summer after my freshman year. My freshman year, I didn’t really know much about The Corp at all. I applied because I was somewhat burnt out from the year, and I didn’t want to do an internship. I wanted to have – I don’t know, I wanted to have sort of a different job. I wasn’t really happy with my college experience, so I thought working at a coffee shop would be an interesting thing to do, so I applied to Uncommon Grounds. I got hired there, and I absolutely loved it.

**So you are the COO of The Corp. Describe that job and what the day-to-day responsibilities of being the COO are.**

Every year the COO coordinates the transition process for the entire Corp, so I’ll set up interviews, application timelines, making sure that everyone knows what’s going on for director-level, service, [upper management] and middle management. I’m also in charge of day-to-day operations of each service, so what that’ll entail is if something breaks and the [operations] person at that store can’t fix it or they’re not sure what’s going on, then often them or me will talk to our service provider [or] our tech [support], and we’ll get them to come in and look at it.

I talk a lot with service directors, [so] if there’s any problems that come up with their store or with personnel, then I’m the person to get in touch [with] because I know what’s going on [in] other services, that way if we have resources we need, [we can reallocate them]. So, like, at [Hoya] Snaxa, we ran out of receipt paper, so we borrowed some from Vittles. That might not sound exciting but just helping coordinate that effort [is part of my job], I also handle all of our legal stuff, so health inspections, business licenses [and] all that fun stuff.

**It sounds like you have to have a pretty good working knowledge of each branch of The Corp. How do you keep track of all that?**

I wouldn’t say I’m an expert on everything, because I don’t have to be. I know how Uncommon Grounds works very well because I was hired there, and in general, [the other] coffee services [as well]. The grocery [stores], like Snaxa and Vittles, have two directors [each] who know their store inside and out, so if I ever have questions, they’re my people. I don’t think anyone coming into this job would be able to know The Corp inside and out as well as we would [like] but, you know, it’s part of the learning curve. You pick it up and you learn from other people. And I get trained for my specific tasks, so I can focus on that.

**Why do you enjoy working for The Corp?**

I think the reason why I enjoy working for The Corp the most and why I still love it is I feel comfortable. I think [The Corp] does a great job of letting their employees be exactly who they are. You don’t ever have to feel like you’re putting on a show for someone, and you can be exactly who you are, and people will appreciate you as an individual, and I really like that. And just working with the other people I’ve gotten to know, they’re fantastic.

**What do you think it is about the way The Corp is run that makes it so welcoming, as you’ve said?**

I think it’s part of the culture. I think it’s that people are excited when they work for The Corp and they feel like they are invested in it, [so] they’re very quick to open themselves up and open the store up to the new hires because they want them to see how great of an experience it can be.

**What, so far, is your proudest personal accomplishment working for The Corp?**

I’d say one of my biggest goals coming into this position was to make sure people have the right tools to do their job. If machines are breaking while they’re working, it’s not their fault and they can’t really do anything about it, so I really wanted to focus on that. Since I’ve come into the position, we’ve helped to replace the espresso machine at [The] Midnight Mug, so they just got a brand new espresso machine a couple weeks ago, and we’ve also replaced a couple older pieces of equipment at different services as well, so I’m happy we’ve been able to get that done.

**So what are some of your projects going into the summer and the start of the new school year?**

We need to make sure we’re doing [everything] we can be doing, so making sure we have equipment that works, and that’s still a struggle. Like I said earlier, things still break. Our tech man John is actually coming this afternoon or tomorrow to take a look at a piece of equipment at Midnight and a piece of equipment at [More Uncommon Grounds].

So that’s just correcting and making sure stuff works, but I also want to work with the directors of the different services with training at different services to make sure we’re putting people in the best position to make sure they know exactly what they should be doing and that they don’t necessarily need to be calling their director of [operations] or their [storewide] director if something goes wrong, and [that] they know how to fix problems on their own and just increase self-sufficiency. That’s my biggest goal. Also, within The Corp, I’d like to see better communication because there’s a lot going on [and] a lot of people working with us so it’s easy for things to be happening and not [have] everyone realize [it] or things just kind of get thrown on you, so we just want to make sure that everyone’s in the loop.

**What skills have you developed while working at The Corp?**

I think my skills working with other people have definitely improved a lot. A lot of my job is interacting with different people, working with them to help fix issues at their store, dealing with difficult situations. I mean, being in my position, I do have to have uncomfortable conversations from time to time, and it’s not something that I enjoy doing or not something that [anyone] enjoys doing, but it’s something that you learn how to do. You interact with a wide range of people, and it’s helped me become comfortable and just [be] able to do that better.

Working for The Corp has also helped me to be more independent. I mean, it’s all student-run, so we’re essentially making all the decisions ourselves, so just to be able to think something out, to commit to it and to put in all the research and effort to make sure something works because there’s no one above me saying, `do this and do that,’ like I’m supposed to be on [top of things].

**Where do you see yourself 10 years from now and how do you think your future will be affected by the skills you’ve acquired at The Corp?**

To be honest, I’m not really sure where I see myself in 10 years, and I don’t even know where I see myself at the end of next year after I graduate. And it’s something I think about a fair amount, but I still don’t have a good answer. I’m debating whether I want to go to medical school or not or if I want to go to a different grad program or maybe doing some sort of service work after college. I hope wherever I am 10 years from now, I’ll [be] happy and my experience as COO of The Corp will definitely impact me just because of how much I’m learning about myself and how to interact with other [people] and how to try to be a good person.

It’s never easy. I just feel like I’m learning a lot about myself, how to handle stress, how to juggle a lot of things, how to deal with hard situations, how to work on my own [and] how to watch out for other people. It’s been a great experience, it’s tough and it’s a whirlwind, it’s incredibly worth it and I know I’m going to be infinitely better off coming out of this position. I’ll be a better person coming out of it than I was coming in, [and] I’ll know who I am.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *