SHEBOYGAN, Wis. — "Not only am I damaged, but I'm also experienced."
That's how Holly Pospichal characterizes herself.
She had a rough childhood, but now she is a part of a team of business interns at Jake's Café, a space where creative entrepreneurs and freelancers can rent rooms and offices to house their businesses.
USA Today Network-Wisconsin reports that the business internship, the product of a partnership between Jake's Café and Lakeshore Technical College, gives Pospichal and others the opportunity to practice the skills they are learning in their business classes with real companies that work out of Jake's.
As a business intern, she helps the businesses that occupy the space with branding, their online presence and management of their business.
"We create promotional plans, marketing plans, basically whatever your company needs, we look into it to see how we can better it or make it grow," she said. "So basically, we're growing businesses."
On top of being a full-time mom, she is also a full-time student pursuing a degree in business.
She hopes to someday start her own business.
The 31-year-old mom of two is using the internship to forge a different path and be a role model for her sons.
But it's been an uphill battle from a young age.
For a class assignment, she wrote about her "coming-of-age story." Despite facing many childhood traumas, she was able to rebuild.
Growing up in Camelot Manor, a housing development in Sheboygan, various parts of her childhood were spent at behavioral institutions, treatment facilities, in and out of foster homes and jail.
Then when she was 17, she gave birth to her first son. Two years later, she gave birth to her second son. Although she started college at Lakeshore Technical College when she was 18, she eventually had to pause her studies because of family circumstances.
But now she is back in classes and will her obtain her business degree in two years from the college. She attributes this to mentors like Sandra Lorenz, who she met through the Big Brothers Big Sisters program, and Laura Ruiz, who ran the Student Transition and Recovery Program (S.T.A.R.S.) when Pospichal was growing up. The program helps troubled youth in schools.
"Everyone who knew me growing up knows that school is not my thing, but now that I'm an adult, it's where I want to be and what I want to do," she said.
She wants to set a good example for her boys, Issiah and Elijah, now 12 and 14.
"I would definitely say it's for them. I'm showing them the right way. You just do it," she said. "I sit down and I'll be doing my homework and they'll be doing their homework."
Pospichal says that although she is an older student, she is excited to be back in school again and encourages others to do the same.
"I think a lot of parents that don't go to college, I think they just need to know that you can. Just take one class or one seminar or one program, one day a week. Or one session every six months," she said.
Pospichal initially learned about Jake's Café through her college adviser when looking at ways to apply her studies in the real world.
The internship allows her to create a schedule where she gets to continue school while also practicing her business and marketing skills.
"I like to be the boss of myself," she said.
Jake's Café owner and founder Tryg Jacobson says Pospichal has brought a wealth of knowledge to the space.
"Holly has transformed our approach to social media," Jacobson said. "Without question, the finest intern we've ever had from Lakeshore Technical College. I think what Jake's is doing for Holly is giving her the chance to 'reinvent' herself after having been a mom for quite some time."
Besides helping the businesses within Jake's Café, Pospichal also helps with the marketing of the space.
Jacobson started Jake's Café back in 2010. Although it houses a café, Jake's is actually a space where freelancers, small businesses, entrepreneurs and others can rent spaces or offices for a monthly fee.
The facility allows people who might not want a traditional office space or who would otherwise work from home to have a space in which they can connect with other people in the community. There are currently more than 30 businesses that work out of the space.
An AP Member Exchange shared by the Sheboygan Press.