Internship at Worthington Industries

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This summer I had the opportunity to work at Worthington Industries in Columbus as part of their IT department. Instead of moving back to Cincinnati for the summer, I found a place just off campus to stay and started working early May. I was very excited to start a new adventure with a company I didn’t know much about and learn how IT functions in an international company. I worked alongside two other interns as well as a whole three story building of IT employees. From day one they threw me into the job and both my learning and working started as an uphill climb.

At Worthington Industries, I worked primarily for the Help Desk and the Project Managers/Operations (PMO) teams. With the service desk I imaged computers on a massive scale, maintained the stock room, kept inventory of the equipment, and worked on tickets with the other service desk employees. I gathered equipment together for tickets that users requested, made some deliveries of the equipment across the Columbus campus, and even met with users to set up their machines. When necessary, I even worked with users to troubleshoot issues on their machines. With the Project Management/Operations Team, I was given the task of managing a repository of documents the IT department used to optimize the process in which projects are carried out. I also led two other Project Managers in reviewing and updating the PMO Reference page on their site, as the current page was outdated with older and scattered information.

When I was not completing work for either of these areas, I found work on the side for other employees that I could help. I worked with a new video conferencing system before it became operational, created user-friendly training documents for the video conferencing system, collected results from a survey monkey poll, populated a master excel list with the results of the survey for an IE Upgrade Project, scanned and indexed over 1700 IT Purchase request documents into OnBase, piloted a group of testers for a new communication program that replaced Lync, went to Spartan, MI for a Unified Communication’s deployment of a new phone system in a steel plant, as well as continually met new employees in the department every week while collecting money for a 50/50 Raffle for Charity.

While working at Worthington Industries, one of the biggest struggles I had to overcome was the idea of working in a large company. In the past I have worked with smaller companies and have been the only intern in the company. I was used to working in a position that was identical to a full time employee’s who acted as my boss during the internship. Working in a large company as an intern was difficult because I didn’t feel as though my actions were as helpful for such a large company where so many other things were going on. I really struggled with my importance to the company and how valuable my work was to the work others were carrying out. As the summer went on, I started working on more and more projects and started to see how my work was adding to the work of others to bring projects to a close. I never got to the point of feeling how I did at the smaller companies but I began to realize how with so many employees and so many different projects, I didn’t need to feel like I did at my other internships. All that mattered was that my work, although small and in the background, enabled or made it easier for the project as a whole to continue moving towards completion. Everything I did, whether small or large helped the company move towards a goal.

I saw myself really branch out and accept new challenges at Worthington Industries through a company deployment trip. The Unified Communications Team was working on a project to change out the old phone system with a new phone system. In order to make the switch they had to send a group of employees out to Spartan MI to the Steel Plant to change out old switches and to lay down and connect the new phones, as well as take and recycle the old phones. I asked to participate on the trip as I thought going on a company trip would be a really cool thing to do as well as a great chance to learn things that I would not get the chance to learn while sitting back in the IT building. Another employee and myself headed up on a Friday during work and worked late into the early hours of Saturday before heading back to the hotel for the night. On Saturday we were back at the plant at 9am to make the cut to the new phone system. I learned a lot from the trip, from the inter-working of a steel coating plant, to how the phone system is managed, and even how the phone system is connected to other communication systems. It was a great experience and I am looking forward to more company trips in my future career.

This change in view of how my work contributes to a company and their goal is one that I never expected to come across. In the past I have been used to wanting to be important through my work and my performance on the job. Now I know that my work is always important, but there are other things that are more important, like learning and making new relationships with those around me. This is a change I can apply to my academic life as well as my professional life. Grades have always been important to me, but after seeing how things are in the real world, I can’t expect myself to do perfect in school. All I can do is do my best and knowing that will make my accomplishments important to me. I also learned that setting goals gives me something to focus on and helps me reach it more than if I don’t have a clear vision in mind. I really learned a lot from my summer internship and am excited to see how I can take what I have learned and apply it to different areas in my life.

Summer Psychology Internship

This summer I interned with a local psychiatrist in Cincinnati, Ohio. I went into the office Monday through Friday and had the opportunity to shadow her while she saw patients. I would sit in on appointments and the patient would talk about his or her mental illness and the history of how they were diagnosed and what has happened throughout their lives. I kept a notebook record of each patient I saw. After each appointment, the psychiatrist and I would discuss the patient’s diagnosis, treatment options, and prognosis. We would also discuss certain mental illnesses more in depth including paranoid schizophrenia and Huntington’s. Along with this, I also did clerical work at the front office.
Through this internship, I learned a lot of in depth information about specific mental illnesses. I have learned about all of them in class, but now I was able to see them firsthand and understand what medications were given and the prognosis for each person. Each conversation with the doctor always taught me something new. Every person is different and the way mental illness affects people is different. Often times the doctor would suggest that the patient go see one of the therapists that works in the office. A decent amount of these patients saw both the psychiatrist and one of the therapists. I had a chance to talk to the therapists about the things they do as well. Unfortunately, I was unable to sit in on any of those sessions because they can get more personal and patients might not want a student to sit in on those.
Seeing these people and hearing their personal experiences was very eye opening for me. I was seeing particular mental illnesses lived out in daily life. There were some patients that came every few weeks, so I got to see how they were doing over a period of three months. In particular there was one man who was very depressed the first time I saw him. He talked about how he had no motivation and wanted to sleep all day. His medicine didn’t seem to be working. The doctor talked with him about switching his medicine to something else. When he came back in a month, I saw a completely different person. His mood had stabilized and he was able to do every day things again.
I began to know the patient’s by name and they would recognize me as well. Along with sitting in on their appointments, I was one of the first faces they would see when they walked in the office. I would check them in, schedule appointments, collect co-pays, fax prescriptions for them, and sometimes we would just talk. Because they trusted me to sit in on the appointment, they felt comfortable enough to talk to me outside of the office. A patient brought in pictures of her grandchild while another patient talked to the whole front office about school and life.
This whole experience really reassured me that I wanted to become a psychologist and help others. November before my internship, I changed my major from Business to Psychology. I’ve always been very interested in the subject of Psychology and decided to pursue this passion as a major. I wasn’t entirely sure what I wanted do with this major. I knew I wasn’t going to go to med school, so I wouldn’t be able to become a psychiatrist, but after this experience I knew that I wanted to go on to become a clinical psychologist. Even if I couldn’t prescribe the medicine people need, I could be the person who helps people through therapy. This internship provided me real world experience and made me very excited for when I get to start working and helping others.

Children’s Defense Fund: Freedom Schools

1. My STEP Project Internship Experience focused on bridging the summer reading gap. This summer I was an intern for the Children’s Defense Fund Freedom Schools in Dayton, Ohio. We worked as summer school teachers leading children grades kindergarten to eighth grade to improved skills under our integrated reading curriculum over a six week span of the summer.
2. In this position, I realized that I have a passion to help encourage others to better themselves. My class ranged from kindergarten and first grade students. They struggled in the beginning some with reading, writing, and/or finding the details in the text. Many people doubt children and their abilities because of their age, but they absorb knowledge from surroundings and adults. I did not realize that they were like sponges looking to find fun facts and learn. Some students shared with me personal information and the school worked as an outlet for them to be themselves.
In the beginning I questioned doing this internship because I did not think I would make a good teacher or the kids would like me. As I continued my journey in Freedom Schools, I had respect for my coworkers, students’ parents, my bosses, etc. because teaching and instilling lessons and principles can be hard. I also gained a respect for the students because they tried their best to succeed and they looked to me for guidance. Now they are looking for me to return next summer and I cannot wait. This experience was life altering because it forced me to get out of my comfort zone, gain new experiences, network with amazing people, and teach brilliant scholars.
3. I actually wrote about this in my journal on the blog. One of my students and I had to have a discussion because she doubted herself. She struggled in reading and sometimes her peers would attempt to laugh if she read to slow. My journal post says it best:
“I had a six year old girl tell me she could not read and that she should not be here in Freedom Schools. I felt so sad that her confidence was low in reading. This little girl is so bright!! I made her do self-affirmations with me once her class left for lunch. Then I had her read half of a book to me before I let her leave my classroom. The thing is, she was hesitating on words, and it is not that she cannot read but big words are tricky. But what is important is she is trying and learning.
From this experience I want to make a difference in Freedom Schools by instilling confidence in scholars. I do not want to hear any student say ‘I can’t’. I need them to try, try, and try again.” In this instance, I felt more obligated to boost the scholar’s self-esteem and reading skills because reading is the one thing that is the key to success. I do not and did not want any scholar to tell me they could not do something because they are capable to achieve any and everything they put their minds to. They are not becoming statistics, rather breaking all statistics that were ever made about them.
4. This experience was completely transformational. It made me think of how all children seek guidance and mentors. It showed me that I am capable of contributing to my community through working with children. As a Servant Leader Intern, I am most proud to say that the scholars that I worked with were incredibly smart and very quick with learning. I thought it was so crazy that they all looked up to me to guide, teach, mentor, and lead them. It was truly an honor to work with them and humbling.
The purity and innocence of the scholars also made me feel so welcome and open. After working in this position, it made me think of being a teacher. Or, I could further my journey with the Freedom Schools movement in the future summers. I am not quite sure. However, I know that this summer has been one of the best summers I have ever experienced. And I was sad for it to end, but we went out with a bang. I hope that I have impacted the students; just like they have heavily impacted me.

 

5 weeks in Canadian Parliament

From early May until mid-June 2015, STEP funded my opportunity to intern in the Canadian House of Commons (a part of Canadian Parliament). More specifically, as a part of the Canadian Parliamentary Internship Program, I was placed with a Member of Parliament in the House of Commons. The Member of Parliament to whom I was assigned holds a critical role in her committee and is a high ranking member of her party. As her intern, I was able to shadow my assigned Member of Parliament in committee meetings, caucus meetings, banquets, speaking engagements, and various other parliamentary duties. I was also able to assist in constituent work coming in from my Member of Parliament’s home riding (legislative district).

Living in Canada and working in its government was an incredible and perhaps once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. What other country might let foreign students into its government and give them such an authentic experience in it? In this opportunity, the Canadian government took me in for 5 weeks and gave me an inside look at their political process. As my first internship, I had no prior experience working in government (US or otherwise). I wasn’t sure what to expect about government work and my understanding of politicians never really went beyond who I saw on the news or at political events. Interning in the House of Commons and working so closely with an elected politician is something that has impacted me immensely. Now I know firsthand that the faces of government aren’t just one-dimensional characters but are often authentic, genuinely motivated people. Before interning in Parliament, I wasn’t sure that government work and a political atmosphere would be right for me. After knowing a little more about life in a government office, I would be happy to work for our own government in the United States.

In Canada, as in many countries, people believe that politicians are selfish, greedy people who care only about their reelection. I believed this to some extent as well and it’s easy to fall for this generalization. Working with my Member of Parliament, I witnessed a politician who genuinely cared about her country and her constituents. Traveling between her riding and Ottawa several times a week, attending countless community gatherings, meeting with people of many different backgrounds, attending caucus and committee meetings, and creating and debating legislation were only part of my assigned MP’s job. Working for 14 or more hours a day at times, the life of a politician is not an easy one but it was one that my MP clearly loved doing for the people she represented.

While I don’t plan to run for office, I appreciate the work that politicians do and the lengths which many go in working for the people. Even as politicians and the political process are painted as “incompetent,” lazy, self-serving, and other negative stereotypes, the work I saw many politicians and their offices produce reminded me that people truly have a voice in democracy. Additionally, before working in a government office, I imagined the atmosphere as stuffy, dreary and boring. Instead, I found a lively workplace, ambitious and hardworking coworkers and a great social life.

Although Canadian government is structured in very different ways than the United States system, I am confident these values translate to the people who govern our own country and those that work in their offices. I was nervous about political work before I interned in Ottawa but, in an unexpected way, these few weeks changed everything I thought about by future career. Canadian government has given me an authentic look at a democratic system and of elected politicians. Neither are perfect, but the people I met and the work I experienced make me excited to take part in my own country’s political system and I look forward to making a positive difference in government and beyond.

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Internship Experience at PPG

For this internship experience, I was located at PPG’s automotive coatings site in Cleveland, Ohio. I did research and development for the pre-treatment department. My major project for the summer was to find optimal operating conditions for a new technology of zinc phosphate bath. I also did a cleaner study for Chrysler that led to the successful launch of a new rinse conditioner.

While at my internship, I gained a better understanding of myself. Coming into this internship, I was set that my future career path would be in research and development. However during my job, I found myself frequently bored while running experiments. The work that I did everyday was very consistent and very much the same. I knew that if I didn’t enjoy three months of this type of work, I wasn’t going to want to make a career out of it. This is why at the end of my internship, I sought out process engineers to better learn about their jobs. When I talked with them, they told me how they were frequently placed in high pressure situations. Their jobs involved more problem solving and interactions with different people and functions. This intrigued me and I especially liked how they never had a “typical” day of work. I knew from this point, I was going to have to find a job in the future that would push me on a daily basis and keep me on my feet.

This realization came to me gradually over the summer. There were various interactions with different employees that helped me discover my true career aspirations. The first interaction was with a girl in my department who had been there for 3 years. She was a chemist. Often, she would help me understand technical information or help me find various equipment around the lab. One afternoon, I was discussing with her about career path. She voiced her frustrations with the department and how she eventually wants to move into a different aspect of the company because she wasn’t feeling challenged in her current position. I felt that this girl and I had very similar personalities and realized I should find a position that would challenge me in the future.

Another interaction came when I spoke with a women who had been with the company for 25 years. This was at an event put on by the Young Professional’s organization. She talked about her life as a process engineer and the transition into management.  I spoke with her about my current disinterest with my internship and asked if she had any advice for me. She said that she was good friends with a few process engineers at the plant and provided me with their contact information to learn more. She also assured me that she too was unsure of her career aspirations in college and not to worry if I didn’t have it figured out yet.

Finally, I met with a process engineer who gave me a tour of the plant and discussed the types of projects he’s worked on. He told me how he implements different technologies to make operators work more efficiently and safely. He also discussed how he follows up on issues in the quality of the product to determine the root causes. Then, he offered for me to sit in on meeting with him about the possible improvement of an air ventilation system. While I was talking with him, I realized that this was the type of work I was interested in trying.

This change was extremely valuable for my life. Since I was able to have this internship experience after my sophomore year, I’m still able to have another internship after my junior year. This is critical because I know which type of jobs to search for. Currently, I’m searching for manufacturing and process engineering type positions because of the knowledge I gained about myself during this internship. This internship improved my lab skills greatly, but even more important, it taught me about myself and my new career aspirations.

Harley Bloecher’s Helicopter Pilot Internship

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The ‘Shoe and the City of Columbus, viewed from a helicopter.

My STEP experience fell under the realm of “internships” by way of a professional pilot internship. It is my dream to have a career as a commercial helicopter pilot, and so far, I have obtained my private pilot license. The next step is to earn my commercial pilot license, which will require more flight experience than what is required to earn a private pilot license. By using STEP to finance part of this flight training, I have begun to learn the basics of becoming a commercial pilot, and in essence am completing a professional pilot internship.

To earn a commercial pilot license, a pilot is required to perform the same flight maneuvers as are required of a private pilot, but to a tighter standard. In addition, one is required to have a deeper well of aeronautical knowledge, and exercise sounds judgment in Aeronautical Decision Making (ADM). This knowledge is comprised not only of technical expertise, but also of regulations pertaining to helicopter and general flight operations. As for Aeronautical Decision Making, a commercial pilot (or any pilot for that matter) is expected to put the safety of the flight first, and to avoid any conditions that may pose an unnecessary risk to safety.

While anybody can say they would avoid risky flight conditions, it is much tougher to make the decision to err on the side of caution when the situation presents itself. The thought of “I can make it, what I’m up against really isn’t bad” is ever present. Over this summer, I took my brother on a flight in which we intended to fly over the city of Columbus, navigating around Rickenbacker’s airspace and under Port Columbus International Airport’s airspace. I also planned to gain a little experience using the Common Traffic Advisory Frequency (CTAF) for helicopters in the Columbus area, all while making sure my brother got to see Columbus from a new angle. The weather reports indicated clear skies for the evening, however, once we got to altitude, we saw low hanging clouds around Columbus that appeared to be part of what looked like a larger storm cell headed our way. After a short discussion on what would be the best course of action, I made the call to turn around and instead enjoy the rest of the flight within visual range of the local airport from which we were based.

The decision to turn around and avoid what could have been a storm was the smart decision. I prioritized the safety of myself and my passenger, as well as recognized my limits as far as pilot ability are concerned. My flight instructors seemed to agree with this decision, and appreciated my ability to think and act before a serious situation developed. While this incident may seem insignificant, it shows a framework for sound decision making – a key trait in a successful helicopter pilot. I went on many flights after this one, but this flight allowed me to realize that decision making is a skill just as needed as technical ability. As I move forward in my career, I may branch into EMS, firefighting, law enforcement, or flight instruction – all segments of the industry that have a high pilot workload and will require mental tenacity of pilots and operators.

Summer Internship with ATMAR

Hannah Gaspar

Internship: Summer 2015

1.) I spent 7 weeks in the town of Maunabo in Puerto Rico assisting the nonprofit organization Amigos de las Tortugas Marinas, which conducts research on marine turtles. Our main responsibility was to patrol the beach each day and collect data on the hatchling success of the turtles. We also participated in community outreach and education.

2.) I believe that I grew in many ways during this experience. It was my first time being so far from home for such a long amount of time. Without the daily support of my friends and family, I had to learn how to function on my own as a young adult in a foreign environment with people I had never met before. I gained a greater appreciation of my sense of independence and curiosity. I also discovered that I have the necessary capabilities for a career in wildlife conservation.  

Before this experience, I assumed that all scientific research was done by professionals with PhDs. However, I learned that a lot of important and necessary research is conducted by small nonprofit organizations with great support from local volunteers. I would also say that I have a much greater appreciation of the work of these volunteers, who spent countless hours over fifteen years with this organization. I now have a better understanding of all the hard work and time that goes into a cause that might seem small in the scope of the planet, but in reality means so much to the local community and the success of an entire species.

3.)  I had the opportunity to work with a diverse group of people within the organization. ATMAR has a large volunteer base with people ranging from young to old and extensive scientific knowledge to little scientific knowledge. Through interacting with these volunteers I was able learn about sea turtle conservation and what it means to work for something you are passionate about. They taught me how to dig up leatherback turtle nests and count the baby turtles, but they also taught me the importance of a community. I was fully embraced by their group and we shared long days and nights on the beach as well as meals and adventures around the island. I am very grateful to these people for allowing me to participate in a small way with their organization and in their lives.

I also was transformed by island life and the Puerto Rican culture. My fellow interns and I had a great amount of free time when we were allowed to explore the local towns and go even further all around the island. We explored the gorgeous streets of Old San Juan, climbed to the top of a mountain, jumped off huge boulders into a river, and snorkelled along a coral reef. These experiences has instilled in me a sense of adventure and wanderlust that I will carry with me for the rest of my life. I have such an appreciation for the rich history and culture of Puerto Rico. I met some truly amazing people with incredible stories and it made me want to travel around the world and gain experiences of my own.

The main reason I travelled to Puerto Rico was to conduct research on the highly endangered leatherback and hawksbill sea turtles. Every day at 7:30 am we went to the local beach and walked up and down searching for signs of hatched nests. When we found one, we had to hand- dig over two feet into the hot sand and take out all of the empty eggs, unhatched eggs, and dead turtles. We then had to open all of the unhatched eggs and inspect them for embryos. We counted and recorded everything and then threw it all back into the hole before we were swarmed with flies. I cannot describe the smell of these nests in a way that would do them justice. It was gruelling. Between the intense heat, the rancid smell, physical labor, and swarms of flies, I had some serious moments of doubt about this whole operation. It seemed like so much hard work for not a lot of reward. But every time we would pull a live little baby turtle out of the sand and watch it slowly warm up and then crawl out into the water, it was all worth it. From this experience I learned that in research it can often seem like you are putting in so much time and effort for such a small result. But little moments like saving a baby turtle change everything and remind you why you wanted to do this in the first place.

4.) This internship has given me so much hands on experience with field research and data collection. Before this I really had no idea what it meant to research an animal. Now I have so much knowledge and many tools that I will be able to utilize in my future career. I hope to one day be working in the field of wildlife conservation. I really needed to see and experience what field work was like before I could decide on a career path. After this internship I am certain that this is what I want to do with my life. Although the work can be difficult and the hours long, I am so passionate about and fulfilled by this work and I can not picture myself doing anything else. After this summer, all I want to do is get back out on the beach and break open more smelly turtle eggs because I know that what I am doing is making a positive impact on the success of this species for a long time to come.

Vieques IslandBaby Leatherbacks

Internship with AEP

This summer I interned with AEP in their Risk & Insurance Management department, here in downtown Columbus. I was given several major projects that will help the department streamline annual procedures for years to come. The biggest project I worked on was the budget for the department for 2016. I had to gather about 20 Excel worksheets from the analysts in the department and find the most efficient way to help that process take less time in the future. I created an input page where the analysts can input their total allocations for the different lines of insurance, and that input page would reference other sheets in the document and categorize the budget allocations by the different business units (over 100 in total).

Over the course of the summer I became more comfortable with asking for help when I needed it, but also trying to gather as much information as possible when I first started a project. Through this mindset I wanted to avoid interrupting my boss as much as possible and only have to check up with him once or twice a day, depending on the urgency of the project. I became more comfortable with interacting with people of all age groups and personalities. Ages in my department ranged from 32-62, so I had to be conscientious of how I was talking to different age groups especially when talking about Excel. There were times when I knew a way someone could do a project much quicker and easier, but I did not want to come off as arrogant and downplay their abilities and processes.

I became much more detail oriented over this internship. Every project I had the mindset that it had to be completed to a level that the CEO would be satisfied with. I also wanted to summarize my results or findings as efficiently as possible to minimize the time I had to use from my boss meeting with me about a project. Detail orientation will definitely stick with me during the rest of my college career and when I enter the full-time workforce.

I did online modules through JobReady Ohio to get ready for this internship experience. Those modules taught me how to keep my work organized and simple when reporting my work to someone who maybe hasn’t been involved in the entire process. I have become more detailed in the way I speak as well. I have been trying to teach myself to speak as if a person knows nothing about a project I have worked on, and to not assume that they know what I am talking about.

I key event that led to change in my work habits was actually when I got failed and had to correct a very time sensitive project. I was working on the budget project, as mentioned above, and it was the last day for my boss to turn it in to his boss. I was called into my boss’ office just a few hours before the long 4th of July weekend. He asked me why we were $1.2 million off the forecasting numbers and I naively said that i didn’t know because all I had really done was create a master budget document, not manipulated any numbers at all. After sweating profusely for a matter of minutes, he figured out what was missing that I hadn’t accounted for and I had 2 hours to complete this task before this project was due to upper management. Through this naive mistake by me, I learned that it doesn’t hurt to get too much detail when learning what the objective of a project is.

Change is needed for growth. No person in the workforce can become great unless they tweak their skills and adapt to the present business environment, while preparing for tomorrow. At the end of the day I want to be better and smarter than when I showed up to work or school at 8am.