Life After Ripon – Karena Schroeder ’15

Chapter 2: Didn’t See That One Coming

[Editor’s Note: Raymond Allen ’15, Karena Schroeder ’15, and Madeline Poullette ’15 are writing rotating monthly entries for the Ripon College Newsletter chronicling their post-graduation experiences. We hope you enjoy their perspectives on Life After Ripon!]

Well hello again! I can hardly believe that it is already time for my second post to the alumni newsletter. I have had an excellent time keeping up with members of the Ripon College family through the various posts, and I hope you have too!

It is amazing to reflect on how much has already changed since my last post. For starters, I have moved not only once, but TWICE since my previous update, and it was not just a quick jump across the street. My last post largely detailed how post-grad life has both its ups and downs. I encouraged readers to feel comfortable with whatever situation they are in, even if it may not seem to be their ideal position in life. Every situation changes with time, and if we keep on keepin’ on, we will all move forward just fine.

A few weeks after submitting my first post, I had to chuckle at the irony of having to eat my own words. Less than one month into my new, trendy apartment in downtown St. Paul, I received word that management positions in the nine Sam’s Clubs within the Twin Cities were not opening as quickly as the market had anticipated. Several out-of-state promotions were not granted to current managers as expected, leaving very few holes to be filled by the four of us in the Manager-in-Training program. There was one spot, however, in one of the “outlier clubs,” as they are called in the market. The open position was for a Grocery-Produce Manager in the city of Mankato, nearly ninety miles south of the Twin Cities. Due to an approaching deadline, I had to make some decisions very quickly. With some extra persuasion from a mentor and the promise of a return to the cities after a short period of time, I decided to take the ninety mile leap. Luckily, Walmart does an excellent job of taking care of their employees. The company paid for every added expense of relocation and more, slightly alleviating some of the stress of moving. This new location would put me even further away from my initial home in Wisconsin, and far from all of the very few people in Minnesota that I already knew upon moving to the state.

Since my move, time has absolutely flown by, and I cannot believe how much I have learned in such a short period. My coworkers and the employees under me here at Mankato are amazing. Every single member of my team gets along with each other incredibly well (a rare occurrence in the workplace) making nearly every day at work truly enjoyable. I have a boss that strongly values family time as well as free time, and schedules us appropriately as long as we are giving our best while we are on the clock. After my first full month as a manger, my department has increased our average monthly sales by 20% over last year and moved up one full position within the thirteen clubs in the market. This quick success is largely due to the amount of effort that my team has consistently been willing to give me, as well as the mutual respect we have all developed for each other in such a short period of time.

While I am extremely proud of the work my team and I have accomplished in recent months, I am experiencing some of those ups and downs that I wrote about in my last post, because not everything can always be “peachy-keen.” For example, in the time before I found an apartment in Mankato, I was driving ninety miles to and from work each day. It was definitely a rough several weeks, and I have a newfound admiration for anyone dedicated enough to commute on a regular basis. It certainly takes a special kind of strength and energy. From time to time, I have had to chase away the feeling of loneliness, but for the most part I have once again found comfort with where I am in life, still remembering that no situation is permanent. I recently adopted an adorable kitten named Bambi who keeps me on my toes and satisfies the need for a good cuddle during those lonely times. Taking time for a few visits from family and friends has also reminded me of how lucky I am to have such a wonderful support system behind me, no matter how far away I am.

Lastly, to quickly share two small-world stories regarding our wonderful alma mater; Walking around the cities one night while wearing a Ripon College shirt, a gentlemen stopped a friend and me, and mentioned that very many years ago he, too, had attended the College. He told us his name was Joe, and we shared quick stories before he was on his way again. A few weeks later, walking in a completely different part of the cities we again, ran into Joe, sharing a bit about what we had been up to recently as if we had known each other for years!

Finally, about a month ago, as I pulled into my new home at the Woodside Apartments in Mankato, I noticed that the vehicle next to me had a Ripon College decal in the back window! The next week, I saw yet another vehicle with a Maryland license plate that also had a Ripon College decal in the rear window. I could hardly believe it! Unfortunately, I have not seen the owners of either vehicle, so if you happen to be reading this post, please feel free to reach out! The alumni network of Ripon College is truly special and unique.

Thank you again for following my post-grad adventures. Until next time, remember to always keep your head up, no matter what surprises are thrown your way!

All the best,

Karena Schroeder ’15

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