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10/16/2014

With more than 40,000 students descending upon Bloomington and Indiana University each fall, employers have ample opportunities to find the perfect intern.  

For Soapy Soap Company, the perfect match came in the form of Ruchi Patel, who began her work two months ago as a production intern and will stay on board through the fall. Patel is a senior management student in IU’s School of Public and Environmental Affairs (SPEA). Her work with Soapy Soap Company was the right fit for her interests.

“I learned about this internship through SPEA. I do inventory management, so when inventory comes in, I label so we keep track of everything,” Patel remarks.

As a production intern, she also helps with the soap-making process firsthand; however, she says her favorite product to make is eucalyptus lip balm.

“I like making lip balms; that’s definitely the most fun part,” Patel notes. “When I first started, I found it interesting how they mix everything up. I like all of the different fragrances.” Soapy Soap Company also produces candles, body sprays and lotion sticks, which they distribute throughout the Midwest.

For co-owners Mohammed Mahdi and Anthony Duncan, hiring student interns was an easy choice, as they are both IU alumni. They began making soap two-and-a-half years ago for fun, and ended up staying in Bloomington to start their business.

“We thought it would be a fun project, so we started making soap. We ended up having so much that we thought, ‘Let’s try selling it,’ ” Mahdi explains. “That’s how it started. Then we developed our own brand and packaging.”

Patel’s academic background in SPEA as a management student allows her to wear many hats within Soapy Soap Company. In addition to working with inventory, she has responsibilities involving accounting. This further expands the real-world application of her classroom lessons – although it’s not always easy.

“Management is abstract, so I can use that in everything,” she explains. “My biggest challenge has just been learning these new things and accepting whatever comes in. Soap is such a new concept to me, but it’s really exciting.”

The lessons she continues to learn at Soapy Soap Company, she predicts, are likely to stay with her regardless of what career path she takes.

“Right now, I don’t have specific work goals, but I’ve always wanted to be in sales. In my past experiences, I’ve worked in retail sales and right now I’m doing this so it will give me a good opportunity to learn new things and help out in my future too.”