Internship with Caterpillar

For my STEP Project I participated in an internship with Caterpillar, working in their Global Supply Network Division. As an intern I had the opportunity to drive process improvements utilizing six sigma methodology and leading a cross-functional teams. Overall, my internship reaffirmed my belief that Business: Operations Management is the right degree for me. I enjoyed the balance of technical responsibility and tasks that demanded more soft skills, like leading meetings or presenting project results. This balance is perfect for me because it provides me with intellectually stimulating tasks as well as the opportunity to develop relationships and learn from other people.

I also learned working with big data can be fascinating when there are real world implications. As a business student, I took CSE 2111 last year at OSU and while I did well in the class, the work always seemed tedious. Data analysis was a big part of the work I did for Caterpillar which strongly aligned with assignments in CSE 2111, but my experience was very different. The numbers I worked with in class rarely had any actual effect on the world around me; it felt as if I was crunching numbers just for the sake of doing it. The data I worked with at Caterpillar, however, was tangible and helped me form business cases for various process improvements. Time would fly by when I worked on spreadsheets and I felt a great sense of accomplishment when I was drew conclusions from what was at first just cluttered numbers.

P_20150728_145019While working for Caterpillar, I was constantly challenging myself and stepping a little further outside my comfort-zone every day. These challenges helped me learn and grow every day. In my first few days, my supervisor asked if I would be comfortable taking the lead on a project. The idea of leading weekly meetings and presenting project updates to high-level management was intimidating at first, but I decided to take on the challenge and I’m glad I did. When you lead a team of subject matter experts who have decades of work experience the opportunities to learn something new are countless. I also gained confidence when delivering presentations and even began to look forward to my next opportunity to do so.

I also learned a lot about myself living in Peoria, IL. I have never thought of myself as the big-city type, but looking back on my life I have always lived close enough to a major city that I could go downtown for the day on a whim. Peoria is located halfway between St. Louis and Chicago, making it over a two hour drive to either location. I did not expect this to be an issue in any way, but I found myself wishing I was closer to a city where I could have the experiences I have grown accustomed to such as major sporting events or simply exploring an urban landscape.

My realization that I enjoy the environment of a big city has made me question other things I have believed about myself. For example, I have begun to reevaluate my desire to work for one company for the majority of my career, a thought I have held for years. My reevaluation of who I am and what I want to do has also been facilitated by events at Caterpillar, specifically Lunch & Learn sessions where I was able to network with directors and high-level managers. These meetings often took a turn away from professional aspirations and towards discussion about the decisions, big or small, that shape our lives. These Lunch & Learn sessions had a big impact on me because each director had a unique way of telling their story, which provided me with several perspectives on the world around me.

I have heard the quest for knowledge is as much a journey inwards as it is a journey in the world around you. This holds true when I look back on my STEP experience; throughout my experience this summer I have learned more than could have imagined when I first accepted an internship with Caterpillar. I have developed a better business acumen and have a more clear idea of the type of career I want to pursue after graduation. I also learned a lot about myself and how I want to grow in my remaining two years at Ohio State and for the rest of my life beyond campus.


North Carolina Museum of Art Internship Reflection

Name: Anna Talarico

Type of Project: Internship

My STEP Fellowship supported me during my summer as the Curatorial Intern at the North Carolina Museum of Art in Raleigh, NC. I worked primarily with 1) the museum’s Chief Curator and Curator of Contemporary Art, and 2) the museum’s Associate Curator of Contemporary Art. My responsibilities including writing acquisition proposals for works of art, researching information to accompany wall panels for exhibits, attending board and department meetings, and developing ideas for future exhibits in the museum’s photography gallery.

From this experience, I gained a significant understanding of what expectations I have for my career and what steps I need to take to get where I would like to be. Being in an arts field, I assumed that my passion and talent for my career was more desired by employers than my academic achievements. II am now beginning to see that this pursuing a career in this field requires extensive foresight and planning. Ever since deciding to major in art history, I knew that I needed to seek advanced degrees after graduation, and prior to committing to this pursuit, I made sure that I understood what is expected of me in order to receive further education. This summer, I was able to digest the ideas of conducting undergraduate research, researching professors and institutions that I hope to learn from as a graduate student, and building professional relationships. I took the GRE at the end of this summer knowing that it is required for graduate school applications, and I am grateful that I anticipated, prepared for, and completed the GRE this summer. I hope to have a career in art history in academia or in a museum, and while I understand the commitment and rigor that it requires, this summer confirmed my passion for this field of study. I strongly desire to keep learning and advancing within this field.

Another change that I experienced this summer was, as my mom would say, “being a big girl.” Being a professional and being a student are two very different ways of life, and they require different depths of self-care. As a student, my schedule and lifestyle are self-designed and flexible. As a professional, my schedule is created by my supervisor and my lifestyle must fit within the confines of my job. I am expected to dress and behave a certain way while at work, and while I have my own personal standards in my life as a student, interacting with adults/colleagues requires more maturity and respect than interacting with friends or peers. My internship provided me with an important dose of reality and what is expected of me as a professional. I won’t be a student forever, so it is imperative that I experience professional settings as early as possible. Commuting to work everyday was a major adjustment for me. Living on a college campus includes the benefit of being able to walk everywhere. During the summer, I had to adjust my lifestyle to accommodate traffic, getting ready in the morning. This challenged me to figure out how to take care of my needs and still balance work. I found new ways to stay in touch with friends, exercise, relax, and enjoy my free time while still being mindful of my responsibilities.

One of the most important aspects of this summer was being able to network with professionals in the field I hope to enter following graduation. I was able to talk about my future in art history with my supervisors, and they provided me with information that I found to be extremely useful in deciding what I will do upon graduation. I had always thought that I would need a Ph.D in order to work as a curator in museum, but I learned this summer that to work in a museum with modern and contemporary art (my area of focus at Ohio State) I only need to pursue a Master’s degree. I felt very comforted by this information because the idea of entering a five or six year Ph.D. program after graduating seemed daunting. Knowing that I have a plan for the next four years of my life is extremely manageable. This conversation helped me realize the importance of taking my career one step at a time, and for me, the next step is to pursue my Master’s degree. I feel confident that I can achieve this step and attend a well-regarded program knowing that my supervisors this summer have already committed themselves to maintaining a relationship with me and providing me with letters of recommendation for whatever I may need.

Another key aspect of my internship this summer was having the opportunity to design my own photography exhibits for the museum. Drawing from the 400+ works in the museum’s permanent photography collection, I curated five unique photography exhibits for the museum to use over the next few years. This was the most hands-on project I was assigned this summer, and it gave me very deep insight to what a curator does. For each of the exhibits, I wrote an exhibit description–a brief summary of artists featured in the show, what the show represents, etc.–and an exhibit justification, which explains why the museum should install the show. Additionally, I had to create an exhibition checklist for each of the five shows. In order to do this, I had to learn how to use The Museum System (TMS), which is a database system that museums use to catalogue their permanent collections. This software is used around the country and the world, and I knowing how to operate the database makes me a more competitive candidate in the job market. Ultimately, I loved this project because I was trusted with the creative freedom and responsibility to develop exhibits.

Finally, I learned about how curators must work in collaboration with other areas of the museum. The museum’s intern coordinator arranged for NCMA’s interns to attend sessions over the summer with various individuals in the museum. I attended a session with the museum’s Chief Registrar, whose responsibilities include cataloguing the permanent collection, managing new acquisitions, monitoring display time of art (artwork cannot be exposed to light and oxygen for long periods of time), lending and borrowing work from other institutions, and storing art. Curators must be in constant communication with Chief Registrars because they control the movement of the art in the museum, and curators cannot do their jobs without mobilizing art. I also attended a session with the museum’s Development Officer, whose responsibilities include fundraising, membership, and managing endowments. Development Officers and curators must be mutually supportive of each other in order to receive funding for the museum and engage with the community. Without the help of the government or the public, museums cannot survive, and because of this, I have become much more engaged with the activities in and individuals involved with my local government. Attending these sessions allowed me to see how curators must be knowledgeable of the various roles in a museum. Curators must be able to work as a team with many other people in order to develop exhibits and achieve success in a museum.

These three experiences were extremely valuable in helping me grow personally and professionally. I truly feel like I have been able to advance in my career path and receiving the STEP fellowship made this progress possible.

As I previously stated, this experience has helped me grow in my field of studies, and it has helped me mature. One of the greatest lesson that I have learned is the importance of developing relationships with professionals in my field and learning from their experiences. Professors are important people to consult for references and academic growth, but internships–and the people who make them possible–are valuable experiences for entering the job market. After my experiences this summer, I feel like I could be interviewed for a job tomorrow and be able to describe my experience and explain my goals extremely well. Before my internship, I knew where I wanted to be in a few years, but I didn’t know exactly how to get there. My experience this summer gave me a clear understanding of what I need to accomplish and what I should expect of myself in order to have the career that I am working toward. This summer provided me with a strong dose of reality that will help guide my decision making over the next two years at Ohio State.

Zach Collins STEP Reflection

Zach Collins

Internship experience


Using the money given from the STEP program I was able to accept an internship at Dover Chemical, where I am able to work with both Chemists, and Chemical Engineers, in order to gain work experience. Working this Step project I was able to reaffirm my desire to become a chemical engineer During my internship I worked in a lab setting running various instruments, as well as synthesizing reactions. At Ohio State I thought I would like the field of chemical engineering, because I enjoyed the classes. But after actually having the opportunity to work in the field of my major I am now sure that I will like the work I do upon graduation.

Working at Dover Chemical I have learned to work in a lab setting, and work with various instruments, a skill that couldn’t have been learned at Ohio State. I have also learned how to think as I go along and problem solve more efficiently.Prior to my internship, I did not fully understand how a chemical plant was run and maintained. During my internship problems would arise that were not expected with chemical reactions. I learned how to determine factors that was causing  problems through a series of steps that was taught to me. I also learned how important working with a team can be. When problems came up, it was not up to one person to solve rather a group of engineers and chemists all relying on one another to do their part.

The main project I worked with at Dover Chemical was creating models using an NIR machine (near infrared). The models were the ‘recipe’ of a certain chemical reaction. These models were created to ensure charge accuracy and to ensure that nothing was added incorrectly. If something was not added correctly the NIR machine would be able to alert engineers so that they could fix the issue. This new machine was purchased in an effort to increase safety as well as avoid profit loss my making something incorrectly.

Another thing I worked on at Dover Chemical was reaction synthesis of new products that the company was trying to create. In this R&D role I would do the reaction 100 times and then test each one of the 100 samples to ensure that they all had the same chemical, and physical properties. Once this was done we could be sure that nothing was varying in the new product. I continue to talk to the engineers even after my internship is over, I built a really good relationship with everyone at Dover Chemical, and I look forward for the opportunity to do further internships with them.

After working this internship I think I want to work in a chemical refinery setting, upon graduation. Knowing this I will now be able to take the correct classes to put myself in the best possible position to get a job in this field upon graduation. After seeing all the engineers with graduate degrees, I have now also looked into the opportunities that OSU has for me to further my education after I obtain a bachelors degree.

The experience gained this summer from working at Dover Chemical will prove to be invaluable when I look for jobs upon graduation. What I have learned over the course of the summer cant be taught in a 3 hour lab. I was able to start a project, overcome obstacles, gain results, and figure out why the results were that way. I believe that having these skills will put me “ahead of the game” when it comes to searching for a job. I now have real world experience that I can talk about in interviews, which will undoubtedly lead to more opportunities in the future.



Interning: Merchandising with Victoria’s Secret

The STEP project I participated in was an internship with Victoria’s Secret. I worked as a merchandising intern under Body by Victoria bras. Some of my daily activities included system updates to prepare and monitor the color codes, size runs, store tiers, sales rankings and prices of our upcoming and present seasons. Other responsibilities included preparing for Monday Merchant Meetings by analyzing business reports and properly displaying our merchandise, completing patterning projects for leadership to analyze whitespace opportunities and participating in weekly meetings relevant to the department.

Working as an intern definitely changed the way I view the corporate world of retail. My understanding of the business environment and the daily activities of merchandising were somewhat limited going into the experience. Yes, I understood that L Brands (Victoria’s Secret is housed under the umbrella of L Brands, which also owns Bath & Body Works, PINK, Henry Bendel and La Senza) is one of the most successful leaders in the retail industry, but didn’t fully know the processes that the company undertook to make this so.

By working as an intern, Intern PhotoI really learned about the critical components behind the company as well as the upbeat and dynamic atmosphere that is required to remain an active part of the company. From constant system updates and communication between departments, the corporate side of retail moves at lightning speed. I found I thoroughly enjoyed this, as I expected since a quick pace where no day is the same is what I want in a job. From projects assigned by leadership to collaborating with cross-functional team members, from making store visits to sitting down and planning out all of the merchandise for new seasons, each day was different.

What really changed was the way I viewed the company. There is so much drive to succeed and pride that the employees take in being a part of L Brands. The sense of community both in and outside of work allows employees to work hard but still feel like a team. It was really satisfying to be a part of a company where everyone is constantly striving to be the best. While a lot of the activities where what I expected, it was the mindset that really helped me transform. That of fellow employees and interns matched all of my work ethic, and I found so many workers who I strive to match in their excellence, accuracy, creativity and know-how.

What I enjoyed most about my internship was that I was given the ability to be an actual part of the company. The best way to word it is that I felt like a new employee, yes, but never an intern. My favorite projects were patterning, in which I got to do competitive analysis of different retailers and companies to see how they are succeeding and why. Whether looking at Apple or Starbucks, Urban Outfitters or Anthropologie, Cosabella or Journelle, each gave me more practice at observing competitors and coming up with new and creative ways to surpass them. I also loved the trip I was able to take to the New York offices. The experience was seriously indescribable! Meeting the teams that I want to be a part of someday and seeing that the future I have always wanted is actually a possibility rekindled my spirit and made me even more passionate about my career.

Throughout the course of my internship at Victoria’s Secret I was introduced to a new concept known as patterning. This is a method used by companies to understand what is occurring in the market. From analyzing competitor assortments and customer service to discovering new whitespace opportunities for the company, patterning is both business-minded and creative. While the context changes from project to project, goals of each were to pattern competitive lingerie retailers to understand their assortments, style options and how to incorporate new opportunities into Body by Victoria. I was given free reign to complete the projects, so one of the challenges was giving myself my own guidelines to work with. Another challenge was coming up with the new emotional spaces I feel that Victoria’s Secret needs to fill and finding a proper way to present these findings, since my mentor wanted it to be extremely visual. The outcomes were that I was able to list out what my mentor was looking for, whether is was a full assortment run of a company or defining a new market opportunity and being able to put it into my own words. From creating my own descriptions to putting together my findings and advice for future assortments, each presentation reflects the company while also showcasing my own creative insight into the brand.

This project was beneficial for so many reasons. As far as long term goals go, I would ideally want to settle myself into a beauty company based out of Ohio since I not only enjoy the types of products associated with this work but also value meeting new individuals and exposure to different places and people. To be a part of this dynamic work environment, I want to settle myself in a position with a company based overseas or out of state. As a top career endeavor, I ultimately want to work my way into a senior merchant, planner or designer position within an international beauty company within the next 10 years. Being a part of this internship made me realize that I have finally found a field that I am in love with, enjoy fully and actively want to be a part of even when the days get rough. Understanding this made me realize that with hard work, creative insight and continual learning through school and future intern opportunities and these future career goals will ultimately become a reality.

For more information and to view some of the project that I completed through the STEP internship, you can copy and paste the link below.

Canadian Internship

Felicity Peabody

Internship with Canadian Parliament:

  1. For my STEP experience I participated in an internship/study abroad with the Canadian Parliament. I had the opportunity to intern with a Member of Parliament for 5 weeks and explore the makings of Canada’s political system. Not only did I shadow a Member of Parliament, but I also met with others involved in Canadian politics.
  2. One big change that is a result from my STEP experience is an increase in self-confidence. For the 5 weeks that I spent in Canada, I had the opportunity to be in the midst of key players in Canadian politics. Meeting important people and having them talk with me increased my confidence in a way that would not have been possible from just a classroom atmosphere. While in Canada, I interned with the Member of Parliament Kirsty Duncan. I was given a massive amount of responsibilities that really gave me a realistic view into the demands of working in a political environment. Completing each task given to me raised my confidence and inspired me to hold myself to high goals. It is not every day that you receive the opportunity to work in this type of atmosphere and being surrounded by driven people was truly inspiring.


Another thing I have taken away from this experience is a better understanding of Canada. Interning within Canada and living in Ottawa for a month really showed me what makes Canada unique. Before this experience I had the idea that Canada was extremely similar to the U.S, but now I can appreciate the things that make Canada a unique nation all its own. There were numerous museums within the city that highlighted Canada’s history. This STEP opportunity allowed me to learn more about our neighboring country and to gain a new-found respect as well.

  1. One key component to my increased confidence was due to all the important people I had the opportunity to meet. While in Canada I was able to meet the Speaker of the House, The U.S ambassador to Canada, Diplomats, Senators, and Members of Parliament. What was so rewarding about meeting all these people was the fact that they had undivided attention to the questions the interns would ask them. This showed how they were interested in what we had to say and respected our opinions. Just being in the same room with these people was a great opportunity, but having them listen to what I had to say was a huge boost of confidence.


Another aspect of the experience that helped to build my confidence was the amount and type of work I was entrusted with over the month. This internship was not just running errands and fetching coffee. I was able to attend committee meetings, reply firsthand to constituent’s messages, and manage my MP’s schedule. Every day I was given something new to do which helped me feel like a valuable member of the office. Being trusted with so much responsibility reassured me that my office had confidence in me and that I should as well.


I owe my better understanding about Canada as a whole to my MP’s personal assistant, Diana. Diana went out of her way to show me around Parliament Hill and discuss similarities and differences between Canada and the U.S, She loved talking about U.S politics and was more knowledgeable than I was about what was happening in my own country. She inspired me to be more in the know of the relationship between the U.S and Canada since they share such close ties. This STEP experience helped me gain knowledge of my own country from an outside perspective.

  1. This experience will be helpful for my future in numerous ways. I gained valuable credit needed towards my major at OSU and also helped reassure my decision to stick to my major. Before this experience I was unsure on my major but now I am confident I am in the right place. I also was given a letter of recommendation from the Member of Parliament whom I interned with. This letter of recommendation will help me stand out from the crowd in the future. I am also taking away numerous real world skills that I lacked before the experience. This experience provided me with an enhanced confidence in my own abilities and reassurance that I am on the right track to my future goals.


STEP Internship Reflection: UNUM

For this summer, I got the opportunity to intern with Unum in my hometown, Chattanooga, TN. I’m here for 11 weeks working in Global Services Department as part of the Document Management Core Team. I’m programming using C# to create an Admin UI which utilizes Infragistics controls.

Prior to this internship, I knew exactly what I wanted to do and how to reach my goals. I thought I had a good idea of what the corporate world is like. Since starting at Unum, my views have changed a lot. Through constant mentoring from two developers, my manager and my whole team, I was able understand the developer role, business objective, and business processes. Now I have a full picture of how everything is  connected and how each department functions in a big company. I learned that it is really hard to get the right information in such a big company. As an employee/intern, you have to be willing to ask questions, actively participating, and should be willing to learn new material.

Working at one of the Fortune 500 companies, I exposed myself to a different culture. Getting myself involved with not just my project team but also with the other interns, made me grow individually. I met many interesting people that inspired me to think about things differently and try something new.  My work made me consider what I really want to do in the future. It uncovered a world of possibilities that I’m looking forward to explore. The work environment at Unum was a new experience itself. There were thing I liked and disliked. For example, I realized I can’t sit in a cubicle for too long, while I enjoyed the friendly nature of the employees. However, the overall experience was great.

I’ve been assigned to work with the iDocument Team at Unum under the supervision of two mentors and a manager. The project I’m currently working on is something that I never worked with before. It is creating a UI for the iDocument Admin Tool. This UI is linked with a database in the SQL Server and uses Infragistics tools/controls. The UI is created in Microsoft Visual Studio using C#. Before coming to Unum, the programming language I have always worked with was Java. Therefore, I had no idea how to use C# and the various other technologies used in this company. Working on this project was a huge learning experience .

Aside from my work, I was given the opportunity to meet the other interns at the company. All of them were from different colleges, varying from Tennessee Tech to Louisiana State University. As a group, we interacted with interns at other Unum branches, like Ireland, Portland, ME,  Columbia, SC, etc. All the interns at Unum, including other locations, meet once or twice a week in a video conference call to attend info session. These info session are presented by various current employees from CEOs to Chief Officers located in  different locations. The presenter provides information about the specific business operation they are working with, personal experiences, and advices.

As an employee of Unum, I am expected to give back to the community. Therefore, a group of interns and I went to the Crabtree Farms. Through this activity, my relationship with the other interns became stronger as we battled the summer’s heat in order to help hoe weeds and harvest crops. Along with this, once a week, we do intern lunch day, where almost all of us go get lunch at a local restaurant. Coming up, we have a Baseball Outing at the AT&T Field, where we get to watch a Lookout’s game. I’m really looking forward to this, even though I have no knowledge about Baseball. Through work and extra activities, I was able to gain knowledge, build relationships, and experience typical work environment.

Overall this internship has provided me with very valuable knowledge. It helped me grow into a better candidate by providing strong relationships and work experience. As my first internship, it provided me information on what I should be looking for in an employer, including work environment and opportunities. It has made me think about what I want to do in the future with my career, which in turn helped me establish academic goals.

Spencer Yoder Internship Reflection

Spencer Yoder


Type of Project: Internship


For my STEP experience I attended a summer workshop that was offered at Ohio State. The class was SU15-Forensic Field School. I put my experience under the internship section, mainly because I felt that the class would give me skills to better myself in the field of forensic biology. It would also teach me valuable lessons in teamwork management and relationship building.  The class had free tuition, however, there was a required lab fee of around $775. I also would need a place to stay because the class was in Columbus and I was not eligible for student housing. All together, the main expenses I paid were, class fees, rent, and food. The class was from  May 11th to May 29th, from 8:30 to 5:30 each day. My classmates and I learned about the various different subjects and areas of forensic anthropology. For example, we were taught about subjects from the K-9 unit, to osteology. This class was a great experience for me, not only because it gave me a better understanding of what forensic science is all about but also because it gave me the connections and professional skills to do well in the working world.

Overall, I would have to say that the experience that I got during my time in the class was not only eye opening but door opening as well. My view of the entire field of forensics has changed. I knew that there would be a difference from the forensics in the movies and TV shows compared to the real deal. However, I did not expect the difference to be so large and drastic. For example, when completing the indoor crime scene, there was a lot more paperwork than I expected. Also, I was surprised at how many steps and procedures were taken to make sure that each piece of evidence was kept track of and safely transported from each scene to the lab.

A view of myself has also changed after taking this course. For many people, the course was an opportunity to further their knowledge in a field they were already familiar with. A large group of my classmates were already knowledgeable in parts of anthropology and forensic science. For me, I was just trying to get my feet wet in a field that I knew I would be using later in life. So when I realized my classmates knew a lot more than me about certain subjects in the class, I learned that there was no reason to be disappointed in myself or think less of myself just because some of my classmates were ahead, instead I used the class for what it was, a learning experience, instead of trying to impress my peers. This meant not being afraid to be wrong or just asking questions that may seem dumb to others.

The class only had about 20 students, which meant I got to know each of my classmates quite well. I was surprised to find that there the rest of my classmates had a wide range of majors. Some were taking the class for fun, others were taking it to gain knowledge about the field of anthropology. I was taking the class because I needed some form of experience in field work, as well as, getting to know some people that would later help me with a future career in forensic biology. One of my favorite parts was the fact that we would be given a location to arrive at, but the class did not provide a bus, or other forms of transportation. This required students to talk to one another and get to know each other. It was simple and effective teamwork exercise.

Since my area of interest is forensic biology, my favorite part was visiting the crime lab at The Bureau of Criminal Investigation, or, BCI. I had applied there earlier this spring but was not picked for an internship. This class gave me an inside look at what BCI is all about, and more importantly, what the requirements are to get into such a field. One of the instructors, and author of the manual we were using, Adam Kolatorowicz, told me about a connection he had at BCI. He also said that she was an Ohio State graduate and always loves to help Ohio State students with their question and applications. This connection was huge for me because I had not known anyone in the specific field I was interested in. After going through BCI I knew I wanted to be inside the lab testing for certain drugs of blood samples. This class gave me the opportunity to meet people and experience things I wouldn’t have otherwise.

The following changes are very significant to me as a person because it has allowed me to look at myself in a broader view. I have been able look at where I am now so that I can make the most of it. Being able to not take myself, and the class so seriously was a huge help in finding out how get the absolute best experience from the class possible. Also, the connections I made with my classmates and faculty is something that will stay with me the rest of my life if I so choose, and I have a feeling I’ll want those connections. Overall the class was a eye opener on more than just one level. I feel I have a better understanding on who I am, what forensics is, and what I want to do with the rest of my life. All of this I owe to STEP, who, without the money, I wouldn’t be able to have this experience. I am greatly thankful for STEP and what they have done to prepare me, and aid me, for my summer experience.

Brian Kulp ExxonMobil Internship Reflection

Name: Brian Kulp

Type of Project: Internship

1. Please provide a brief description of your STEP Signature Project. Write two or three sentences describing the main activities your STEP Signature Project entailed.

My STEP Signature Project took me to Spring, TX to intern with ExxonMobil. The work project entails doing supply chain optimization for ExxonMobil Research and Engineering, but the STEP experience goes far beyond that. It also involves learning how to live on my own in a different culture.

2. What about your understanding of yourself, your assumptions, or your view of the world changed/transformed while completing your STEP Signature Project? Write one or two paragraphs to describe the change or transformation that took place.

My view of the world has changed significantly since I began working in Texas. For one, I have discovered that Texas (at least in Houston) is nothing like the stereotypes suggest. I live in the suburbs, and with the exception of the volume of rain, everything feels the same as a summer in suburban West Chester, PA.

Additionally, I have really discovered another part of myself, an ambitious independent side that I always knew was there but never applied it. I find myself acting like a leader while working with much older Ph.D. graduates and am not afraid to lead the conversation and contribute my ideas.

I have furthermore realized how much I enjoy life beyond college, as it enables me to have the freedom to point work in the direction that I wish to take it. The world beyond the dorm room also allows for an incredible amount of freedom, especially on weekends and evenings. I have enjoyed my time down here so much and I am getting paid! STEP has introduced me to my future, and I am now extremely excited for it!

3. What events, interactions, relationships, or activities during your STEP Signature Project led to the change/transformation that you discussed in #2, and how did those affect you? Write three or four paragraphs describing the key aspects of your experiences completing your STEP Signature Project that led to this change/transformation.

Within the STEP program, I gained a greater appreciation for other cultures. STEP taught me so much about identity and how people interact that I feel like it helped me assimilate very quickly into a new place. I was able to make friends quickly and easily and found out a lot about peoples’ backgrounds much faster than I normally do. This interpersonal skill will be invaluable in the future and will likely help me in my career as I interact with people all over the world.

While here, I have established a great network of people with whom I have found myself strengthening as a thinker and as an individual. They have pushed me beyond the limits of classroom learning and have provided quite the challenge with regards to their technical expertise. I no longer am at or near the top when it comes to intelligence, which while intimidating has actually strengthened my self-confidence and has pushed me to only try harder.

Finally, I see myself rapidly transforming into an adult, catalyzed by having my own apartment and having to make all of my own decisions. I pay the bills, I run errands, I allocate my time wisely, and all in all this experience has developed me more than I could have ever imagined.

4. Why is this change/transformation significant or valuable for your life? Write one or two paragraphs discussing why this change or development matters and/or relates to your academic, personal, and/or professional goals and future plans.

The culmination of these changes has enabled me to see what the future may hold. I foresee myself working at ExxonMobil and moving away from home with my hopefully soon to be wife, Katie. The STEP program and this internship have put me on the fast track to success, and I am incredibly excited for the next few years of my life!

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STEP Internship Reflection

My STEP experience is an internship through Washington University in St. Louis. I am working with a neonatal occupational therapist named Dr. Pineda. Her research lab works in a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) at St. Louis Children’s Hospital and a special care nursery in Barnes Jewish Hospital. As an intern, I have been working with Dr. Pineda and the other occupational therapists that work for her. I shadow the occupational therapists when they go to the NICU or special care nursery to collect data, which involves doing assessments on premature infants. I also help with data management and entry and assist with the various research projects going on in the lab.

I have a much better understanding of myself and my comfort zone as a result of my internship. I moved to a whole new city, got involved in research for the first time and got a waitress job for the summer. I have been able to learn to be independent and take initiative. Moving to St. Louis and working as an intern has really helped me to learn how to live on my own and essentially work a full-time job. I feel more capable in my ability to be an independent adult, not just a college student. This summer has also provided me with a unique opportunity to have an inside look at occupational therapy and premature infant development. I knew I wanted to be an occupational therapist but this summer has really shown me that neonatal occupational therapy is the field I want to work in. Before this summer, I had never seen a tiny baby like the ones that I see every day now. It is crazy to look at a baby who is only 2 or 3 lbs and then watch them grow and develop. Working in the NICU environment has really changed my world view. I have met families who are staying at Ronald McDonald house, far from where they live, and are having to cope with their infant being in a precarious health situation. It is truly inspiring to see how hard the staff in the NICU work to support the families and the babies as they grow. I am impressed by the courage of the families I have seen and the dedication of the people who work with premature infants.


The picture above is to show how tiny premature infants may be. Although they can be tiny, they still have “occupations” and do way more than people think. In the picture, the baby is grabbing on to his mom’s finger. He is demonstrating palmar grasp when he does this. Palmar grasp is a reflex and it indicates a motor skill that he is able to do. This picture is from Fresh Art Photography does some photos at St. Louis Children’s.

The change I want to focus on is having my career direction solidified and what lead to that decision. Before this summer I had been planning on going to graduate school for occupational therapy. However, I was unsure about this decision and debating whether or not that was the field I wanted to work in. At the beginning of my internship I was shadowing an occupational therapist in the NICU and she was performing a neurobehavioral assessment on a very unhappy baby. During the assessment, it was clear that the baby was unable to calm herself down and was not where she should have been developmentally. Although I do not want to do research in occupational therapy, I really want to be able to help premature infants develop so they have the best life possible. Learning self-calming and various other activities or “occupations” helps to improve babies’ future lives. The more care and support they have at a young age, the easier it is to lessen or avoid disability down the road. Premature infants are at an extremely high risk for developmental disabilities and other health problems. Through my internship, I have realized that I want to work as an occupational therapist and help provide infants with the care they need to grow and maximize their chances for good health outcomes.

Another moment this summer that helped me realize I wanted to be an occupational therapist was listening to a woman give a lecture about working in the NICU. She discussed the role that an occupational therapist plays and it really appealed to me. Often, families with babies in the NICU will experience frequent changes of staff. Nurses will work different shifts or the resident who was working with their child will change. However, once a baby is assigned to an occupational therapist, that therapist will work with the baby up until discharge and may even do follow up appointments once the baby leaves the NICU. Because the occupational therapist remains constant, they are able to act as support for the family not just the baby. They are available to answer questions that the family may have, talk about how the baby is doing, and give suggestions and advice on how best to nurture the baby while he or she is in the NICU and after discharge. Occupational therapists really play a special role for the families not just the babies. I knew I wanted to work in the health field and work with people. After I learned about neonatal occupational therapy through my internship, I know what direction I want my future career to go in.

In addition to the exposure to the field of occupational therapy that I have gotten, I have also been able to talk with the other people who work in Dr. Pineda’s lab. There are two occupational therapists who work with Dr. Pineda. I have been able to talk with them about how they became occupational therapists and what they like and dislike about their jobs. There are also four occupational therapy doctorate students and two masters students. As I make the decision between doing a doctorate or a masters, I have been able to talk to all of the graduate students about why they chose the degree they are working on. Getting to hear everyone’s story about how they decided on occupational therapy has really helped me think more about what I want to do as an occupational therapist and how I can get to that goal. I believe I can make a more informed decision about graduate school and have a better understanding of occupational therapy as a field.

As I discussed in the previous paragraphs, the big change I experienced this summer was deciding on occupational therapy as my future career. Since deciding this and talking to people I work with in the research lab, I have been doing more research on various graduate schools. My internship has helped me learn the pros and cons of doing a doctorate or a masters in occupational therapy. Although I still haven’t decided what degree I want to pursue after undergrad, I am well on my way to mapping out a school/ career plan. I am so excited that I found a field I am passionate about this summer and look forward to learning more about occupational therapy.