Brittany Trang | Research Internship in Germany

For my STEP project, I interned in an organic chemistry institute at Christian-Albrechts-Universität in Kiel, Germany through the DAAD RISE program. In addition to beginning to learn about the German language and culture, I learned about German scientific academia and got a taste of the 9-5 life of an academic researcher.



Working in the glovebox–the closest I’ll ever get to wearing a space suit.


From navigating airports during my first solo flight to interpreting Berlin’s transit maps to finding my way through new cities to small hostels, I did a lot of scary things for the first time. I became fast friends with people more quickly than I ever have—from my language school intern friends to my labmates to the girls I stayed with in hostels. I went up to the mosh pit during a Russian ska band concert, ate (cultural!) raw pork, danced at a Prague dance club, and pushed myself to do things I had never considered doing before. I learned that doing things outside my normal comfort zone can be fun and can lead me to become a more confident person.

As I have heard from professors and other people who have lived abroad, it is nice to see the United States from a distance for a time. Living as a European for a few months gave me a new perspective on American culture. From differences in our environmental practices, social norms, government, and public transportation, I found a lot of different ways to think about aspects of American society.

On the research side of my STEP experience, I learned a lot of chemistry laboratory techniques and research methods that have been instrumental in my development as a chemist. Because I was surrounded by organic chemists in Kiel, I had a different approach to my research project and learned to look at research through an organic lens. Since I was in an organic institute, I had access to glassware and instruments that I do not get the opportunity to use in my largely-inorganic research group at Ohio State. I got to work with wonderful people whom I hope to work with again in the future. I also got a taste of the graduate school life and learned how much I like researching full-time without classes.


In Geneva, one of the places I went to on my weekend trips.

In Geneva, one of the places I went to on my weekend trips.

Overall, my STEP experience has broadened my horizons in many ways. By making me more adventurous and more willing to step out of my comfort zone, it has opened the way for me to have even more transformative experiences. Because I had this opportunity to sample European life and culture, I now both look at my everyday life in a different light and am open to possibly returning to Europe for graduate school or career opportunities.

When I compare my perspective on the German language and culture to the perspectives of my German I classmates, I see that my experiences have caused me to appreciate the German culture in a more complex way. My research in Germany has given me additional expertise in the organic chemistry and polymers field that I have found valuable for my current research at Ohio State as well as for internships and graduate programs. My STEP project has deepened my understanding of who I am as a person, world citizen, and researcher, and I hope to have the opportunity to have more transformative experiences in the future.


I blogged during my internship! You can read more about my German summer at



My Internship With Columbus Public Health


My Internship With Columbus Public Health:

By Maxwell Witeof

I interned with Columbus Public Health’s LGBTQ Health Coalition. The bulk of my work was comprised of event planning, social media overview, and professional development within the public health community.

My insight to the world of public health was changed dramatically. I got the chance to finally intern in the field I want to spend the rest of my life working in. I never knew exactly how that work would come to life. I realized that public health is very broad and there are so many different ways to integrate it into our lives. While taking on this internship I realized that this particular brand of public health, health behavior and promotion, was not what I wanted to do. However, I did learn that I love working in the public health field and I cannot wait to continue doing so.

I also learned that health is not so cut-and-dry. I learned about health disparities in one of my intro classes but actually seeing them at hand in marginalized communities definitely put everything into perspective for me. I also really got passionate about integrating social justice work into whatever field within public health I intend on pursuing to ensure that I maintain this passion.

There were many factors that went into my transformation but I think working for Columbus Public Health overall just set that all in motion. One huge project we worked on was the Pride Provider project. Essentially, what I was tasked with was putting together a list of culturally competent medical care providers. Before we could reach out to potential providers we had to determine what criteria was important in regards to deeming them culturally competent. Although there are a lot of factors that determine health in LGBTQ populations we eventually settled on four main questions in order to get the best medical care for this group of people.

From there on we had to contact these people and see if they actually met these criteria. That was a strain because medical care providers are certainly busy people! I learned then just how hard it is to make changes within this sector which was definitely a turn off for me. It is possible but it is often a long and arduous road. I would love to support someone who is passionate about it but I do not know if I have the willpower to do it.

Once we compiled the list though it was amazing. I truly felt like I helped make a difference not only within Columbus Public Health but within the greater Columbus and LGBTQ communities. Knowing that we are easing the gap between health disparities is rewarding to me and I hope to continue to do rewarding work within this field.

This change is so valuable to me because I need to know about all of the challenges and rewards of working in public health. It is a very thankless field but does a tremendous amount of good work. I need to know what the problem is, how to go about fixing it, and why the struggle is important.
I know that it will be difficult to seek entrance into a job straight out of undergrad or get into grad school but I am confident that the experience I gained interning at Columbus Public Health will boost me in my endeavors to do some good within the world.

West Sound Wildlife Shelter Internship

IMG_5656 IMG_5601I used my STEP funds to move to Bainbridge Island, Washington for the summer to complete a wildlife rehabilitation internship. I helped raise and heal sick, injured, and abandoned wildlife so they could be released back to the wild.

My personal goal for this experience was to challenge myself and live outside my comfort zone. Moving across the country on my own lead to a lot of personal growth and increased independence. I had to take full responsibility for my goals. I tried to do one thing every day that scared me, whether that was diving 60 feet down into Puget Sound or just riding my bike to a place I had never been. I learned to be on my own and appreciate time spent by myself. This increased independence and completely new environment allowed me to somewhat selfishly devote almost all of my time toward exploring my passions. I learned a lot about myself and my values.

I expected this experience to change me, but I had no idea the amplitude of the impact it would have. I fell in love with the Pacific Northwest lifestyle. I rediscovered my love of nature and, after learning more about the indigenous tribes of the region, have adopted their outlook on ‘natural living.’ I have become more aware of how my actions affect the planet and those around me. I also discovered my love of adventure and hope to be able to continuously explore new places throughout my life.

One of the most influential people I encountered over the summer was Dorothy, the lady who rented me a room in her home. I was humbled by her generosity that made my entire experience possible. As I got to know her, I was amazed by how open and hospitable she was. She always welcomed people into her home and was willing to drop what she was doing to help others. She not only invited me into her home, but into her life as well. Her selflessness has inspired me to be more open and share the gifts I have been given.

Additionally, my confidence in my own independence increased greatly after my weekend trip to the San Juan Islands. I signed up for an overnight kayak camping trip to see the resident Orcas in the area. I got up that morning to catch the 5:00 am ferry to Seattle so I could take a boat from Seattle to the island. However, when I got to the boat dock, I learned the boat had been cancelled due to mechanical issues. Therefore, I had to completely alter my travel plans and ended up arriving 12 hours later by bus. This situation, while stressful to deal with my own, enhanced my ability to solve problems and traveling by myself was extremely liberating. It sparked my adventurous spirit.

In addition to my trip to the San Juan Islands, there were countless other moments in which I left my comfort zone to get to know myself. I got SCUBA certified, visited new places, and ate at a fancy restaurant by myself. I spent my days off exploring the island’s parks or wandering around downtown Seattle. Although these things seem like small feats, it took a lot of courage for me to do them on my own. I learned that I am capable of being independent and I discovered a lot about what I enjoy and value.

This newfound independence and confidence has encouraged me to chase after my dreams, even if they seem difficult and far reaching. I am more open to trying new things and exploring on my own. Each person that I met out there impacted me through their selflessness, carefree attitude, and respect for the world around them. I hope to someday live up to those values and pass them along to others.

Regarding my career, the internship sparked and confirmed my interest in wildlife medicine. I really enjoyed the unpredictability in the work and the need for creativity to heal and raise the animals without losing their natural instinct. I also discovered a passion for the interface between human and wildlife health. I hope to pursue this passion through a career in conservational medicine and public health.

My Summer at Maine Media College and Workshops

My name is Jay Young, and during the course of the summer I worked as an intern, teaching assistant and staff video editor for Maine Media College and Workshops Film School. This job entailed a host of different responsibilities. As an intern I worked closely with students to make sure their experience at the college was going smoothly. Similarly as a teaching assistant my job was to facilitate a good work environment in the class room and help students with any technical needs with hardware or software. As a staff editor I worked with faculty and students to edit the films that where produced by the school, and to edit an end of the week show every week to show students their work.

This experience was very transformative for me. I picked up my life drove 14 hours to Maine, a state that I had never previously been to, to live in a house with 6 other artists who I had never met. What ensued was the best summer of my life. I had to grow on my own and put myself in so many new situations.  The distance from home made me more self reliant, and aided in crafting friendships with my coworkers and roommates who came from all over the country. Together we made incredible films and learned and grew with one another, all while exploring the fantastic landscape along the ocean coast of Maine.



I became a better creator thanks to this experience. My colleagues were all extremely talented individuals. The staff ranged from college age interns like myself to veterans of Hollywood who have worked on films such as Titanic and Terminator. Whether it was in class or out of class, we were working on creating new photographs and films together, always pushing each-other a little farther with each completed project.

With this new found group of great friends I explored the beautiful state of Maine with full freedom. I was all of a sudden in a place where it looked like a fairy tale everywhere I looked. This wonderful environment inspired us in both life and work, and made it so worth while to get out of bed in the morning to see the sun rise over the ocean. The surreality of  all of the sights that I saw filled me up, and made me feel much more comfortable and versed in exploring the world.

Thanks to all of the inspiration, I was able to bolster my portfolio as a film maker and photographer. I was able to complete many successful projects which I am very proud of. I learned so many more useful skills and became incredibly versed in professional film equipment. I had the perfect tools and environment to thrive in a creative craft.

I am very thankful for the summer I spent in Maine. On the practical side, it gave me so many skills and business connections that I didn’t have before. I have two standing job offers in the film business and a much better portfolio for future opportunities. This experience has also made me feel more well rounded as a person. The time I spent in Maine was very introspective. I got a good look at the person I would like to be, the places I would like to go, and the people I would like to do it all with.



My Summer at Akamai Boston

  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 Project was a software engineering internship at Akamai Technologies in Cambridge, MA. I spent 12 weeks working with the Developer Productivity team where I singlehandedly developed a performance monitoring solution for an internal application they owned.

  1. 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 summer in Boston was the first time I had lived in another state for an extended period of time. I learned about the term “flyover country” after someone offhandedly referred to the Great Lakes and had multiple people tell me they could not point out Ohio on a map. I was not offended by this at all, but it definitely gave me an insight into how people perceive the Midwest. Honestly, when I was there, I hardly heard about Ohio, Michigan, or anywhere in our area. Instead, you heard about Akamai’s other offices in New York and San Francisco or people vacationing in “The Cape”, Maine, or other New England states. It almost makes you question your own relevancy in that so many people have next to no recognition or respect about what makes you you.

My largest personal growth came from understanding this and realizing I have the appreciation, pride, and respect for from what I come. And that is all that matters.

  1. 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.

I would say most of my interactions at work led to this sort of transformation. Everyone on my team had grown up in the New England area (coincidently one woman was born in Ohio, but moved to Boston early on) and the other intern on my team grew up 20 minutes from the office and went to school in Amherst. Never did I ever feel bad about being from Ohio – in fact I was proud to be a little different – but it did lead to a a small feeling of isolation for me.

One particular interaction that sticks out was my getting lunch with an engineer in another department who was interested in my project. He had worked on both coasts and was a very blunt guy – more than your typical Bostonian too. When I introduced myself, he asked me where I’m from and made a wisecrack about me being an “innocent Midwestern boy”. Again, I wasn’t offended at all, but was a bit taken aback. He referred to it again after he dropped a few f-bombs in conversation. As someone with a pretty dirty mouth, I didn’t care that he did that, but it made me wonder “do people really think this about the Midwest?”.

While I still felt the pride of being different than all my coworkers, I was still fortunate enough to have a small Midwestern community at my apartment. I was randomly assigned roommates from Indiana, Iowa, and Texas who understood where I was coming from with the bit of culture shock we felt in the Northeast. We became pretty good friends and had some great times, which I attribute to our not knowing anyone else and common background.

All in all, yes, I learned a lot about what I want to do with my life, but I feel that I could have learned it most other places. What I took most from my experiences was that I am comfortable, and most importantly, proud with who I am.

  1. 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.

My realization has strengthened myself to be confident in my own skin with who I am. This doesn’t just apply to Boston, but next year when I worked at Microsoft in Seattle. I can go forward now without the nerves I initially had and with the confidence that I can succeed no matter where I am. Additionally, I know I have my support system back home that is rooting for my to succeed wherever I end up.


Pictures below are (from left) Akamai Intern Outing on Thompson Island, Akamai Intern Outing to Red Sox Game, Kayaking on the Charles River.

Franklin Housing Authority Internship Experience

By: Beth Stuckey

This past summer, I completed an internship with the Franklin Housing Authority in Franklin, Tennessee. My major project for the summer was to design and administer a health assessment for the elderly and/or disabled residents enrolled in the ROSS Program (Resident Opportunities for Self-Sufficiency). In addition to the assessment, I designed a housekeeping class, held a healthy cooking class for children in the neighborhood, assisted in case management in the social services department, and worked on other various administrative tasks.IMG_5238

Growing up in Franklin, I never realized how much poverty was just outside our cute little downtown. In fact, the city’s public housing is less than five minutes away from multimillion-dollar homes and stylish boutiques frequented by country music stars. While the level of poverty in Franklin is not nearly as dyer as other urban areas such as Detroit or Chicago, it is often overlooked because of the wealth associated with Franklin, Tennessee. Through my internship I was not only able to understand the poverty that exists in Franklin, but I was also able to put faces and stories to this poverty.

One of the most valuable lessons I learned was also one of the most challenging lessons I have ever had to learn. In the past, I had always found great comfort and joy in helping those in need. However, while working with FHA I found myself realizing that not everybody wants help. I remember specifically sitting down with a woman who told me how much she wanted to get her life together by finding a suitable career and working her way out of public housing. I jumped at this opportunity and immediately started connecting her with online and local resources. I was so excited that I had “helped” this woman. However, as I told some of my coworkers about this conversation they all had the same concern. The woman had been saying that she wanted to improve her life for five years. People had given her resource after resource and she had yet to utilize any of them. Experiences like this is how I learned that no matter how much you try to help, people must be ready to change and accept help in order to be successful. Sometimes that means that they have to hit their personal rock bottom for them to be ready to make a change in their lives. Once they hit this point, you have to be ready to help them, no matter how many times your help had gone unappreciated in the past.

Another powerful lesson I learned throughout the summer was that not all aid and donations are an efficient use of resources. When trying to help a community in need, it is important to consider what the community actually needs and what the cultural norms are for that community. Throughout my time with Franklin Housing Authority, a non-profit would consistently drop off donated food to the community center. While this definitely addresses a need of the community, not all of the food was appropriate to eat. We often had to spend an hour going through the produce and checking expiration dates, finding numerous donations that were inappropriate for human consumption. In addition, half of the donated items were not recognizable to the residents. Although we would explain how they could incorporate these items, by the end of the day we would be left with an enormous amount of food. Because the organization would just drop off the food and leave, the social services staff would spend the entire day sorting the food, running the food give away, and then getting rid of all excess food. While the residents were very thankful, there should have been a more efficient way to accomplish this goal.

My STEP experience allowed me to apply some of the public health concepts I have learned throughout my time at Ohio State. In many of my public health classes we discussed the social determinants of health. These social determinants refer to the social conditions and experiences that influence an individual’s health, outside of the typical definition of “medical” causes. Social determinants of health include poverty, lack of education, lack of access to quality health care, and availability of healthy food in specific neighborhoods.

The internship helped me further understand the importance of cultural competency when working in a specific community. Because I did not grow up in the community, it is obvious I did not personally relate to the struggles the residents were facing. However, what I could do was listen to their problems and concerns and provide resources to the best of my ability. Learning how to support people without giving off an air of superiority is a very valuable skill in the public health and service field.

Animal Care Internships

During the summer of 2015, I had two animal care internships at COSI and the Columbus Zoo. At COSI, I cared for the animals and also educated guests about the different species. I worked in the North America region at the Columbus Zoo where I assisted zookeepers with cleaning and animal care.

Animal care is not an easy field. I knew this before starting my internship experiences, but I had no clue just how intense the work would be. I worked 6 am to 3 pm shifts three days a week at the zoo, and fit in ten hours a week at COSI. The amount of time you spend on your feet, leaning over enclosures, crawling into small spaces, and carrying heavy objects makes the job intensely physical. Not only are you always on the move, but you also must be alert at all times. Working with animals is a different job every day, requiring you to adapt to the animal with which you work. There is a great deal of problem solving; animals cannot tell you what is wrong with them, you are expected to figure it out quickly and efficiently. Animal care is definitely no walk in the park.

Both of my internships gave me vastly different experiences. There is a tense political hierarchy at the zoo. Zookeepers seem to not have much say about the animals under their care. They have to make due with what they have. During my internship, a couple zookeepers left the North America area. The keepers did not get a say in who was hired in their places, which is backwards thinking to me because these people must work together to take care of these animals. Interns were not allowed to sit in on meetings because tensions would get too high and the conversation too political.

I learned that regardless of how good you are at your job, awful things can happen. During the summer internship, nine animals died in the North America region. All of the zookeepers were great at their jobs, but there was nothing they could do to stop these tragedies. This is a difficult aspect of animal care. The relationships built with the animals over so many years with the same keepers made it especially difficult for the workers. Natural occurrences are always a variable in animal care.

Networking is of huge importance in the animal care world. My COSI boss was actually part of the North America team at one point. She knew many of the keepers I worked with at the zoo. She showed me a picture of the team she worked with, and pointed out where each one was working presently. They had spread out all across the country doing various jobs in animal care. The connections built with other people in the field impact the chances of getting a job or recommendation.

These were valuable experiences for me to have. My academic career has become more positive because I am seeing where my classes help in the actual field of work. I know now that becoming a zookeeper is not exactly what I want to do, but I am getting closer. I met many wonderful people with whom I have built strong connections. My goal now is to have as many new animal care experiences as I can, including research and domestic animal work and work with conservation so I can have an even better idea of where I want to go with my future.

Centers for Disease Control/BUCK-I-SERV (Internship/Service Trip)

I’ve been lucky enough to have some really amazing opportunities come my way in the past 20 years of my life, but none as exciting as those that I was able to experience this summer with the help of the STEP Fellowship program. My STEP Signature Project, carefully curated with the help of my wonderful STEP coordinator, Ms. Melinda Sims, was a multi-step project. The first being a BUCK-I-SERV service trip to Chicago, Illinois to the Misericordia House, a community campus that cares for and maximizes potential for persons with mild to profound disabilities. The second part was an internship that I got at the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Hamilton Branch in Cincinnati, Ohio, where I worked with the Aerosol Team.

The BUCK-I-SERV trip I went on taught me a lot in regards to how no matter what obstacles you are facing, there is always potential to live an incredible meaningful life. During my stay at the Misericordia House, I was able to work with some incredible residents that always had a smile on their face and always seemed as though they were truly enjoying life. Society has some unfortunate views and unfair generalizations about people with disabilities and how limited they are by their disabilities. A disability does not define who you are as a person, but rather changes how you go about doing certain things in life filled with activity and enjoyment. The residents at Misericordia are truly beautiful inside and out, and their positivity rubbed off on all of us. During my trip, it was not I who was helping the residents, but rather they were teaching me how to look outside of the box with a smile on my face every day.

Now at the CDC, a lot of the knowledge I gained was very technical. It was an incredibly hands-on engineering experience, which required high levels of critical thinking, analytical skills, and the ability to be independent while being able to work within tough restraints. However, aside from the technical aspect, I learned a lot about what it means to be an adult. For the majority of my life, things have been essentially spoon-fed to me and the pressure of meeting goals to this extent was almost null. However, this summer at the CDC, I realized that I, in fact, did not know everything. In fact, I actually knew close to nothing. That being said, I was still expected to perform at a continuously exceptional level by meeting deadlines, creating reports and experiments, and working on projects despite my lack of knowledge. I learned that if I wanted to succeed, I shouldn’t expect something to come easily to me. I have to work hard for it. Success will not just fall into my lap, but must be seized and sought after with a certain drive and hunger that just isn’t developed at a typical suburban school environment.

The events that led up to my revelations found at Misericordia, happened every single day I was there, for the entire duration of the week. Every day our group was working with a variety of residents, and every day the residents taught me to see life as something beautiful. One instance in particular happened on the day our group went to the Murphy House. The Murphy House is the home and care facility for the residents were extreme disabilities. Many of the residents had Cystic Fibrosis, severe Autism, and a variety of other conditions, rendering them restricted to a wheelchair/stroller system with round the clock care. They had limited capacity to communicate through words or movement. On the day we arrived, a group of about eight college students, we were asked to play a very hands-on volleyball-esque game with the residents. Now this was immediately met with timid responses of hesitation, confusion, and discomfort. We didn’t understand how we would play such an incredibly active game without potentially hurting some of the residents, and we didn’t want to make any of them uncomfortable. However, we tentatively moved forward, intrigued with how this would play out.

As we began, the excitement in the room from both the residents and volunteers was palpable. However, as time went, the residents accepted us and we could see their eyes light up and they smiled. They would sometimes grab our hands to indicate that our pitiful comedy routine was exactly what they wanted to hear. The gymnasium area we were all in soon become a battleground filled with bitter rivalries, shouting, heckling, indignation towards the clearly unjustified referee calls, and unbelievable fits of laughter. Some of the residents even found fleeting romances with some of the volunteers, with hand holding and being dubbed the honorary title of “wifey”. For those few hours, it didn’t seem as though anyone’s disability was debilitating or restrictive. It was just pure fun for everyone.

On the other side of the spectrum, I was taught to grow up by the CDC. It all started as soon as my orientation and settling period ended. I thought I was familiar with the general protocol and procedure I would have to deal with, due to my extensive background in research. I clearly did not know just how wrong I was. The first part of the project I was handed dealt with graduate level and post-graduate level applications of fluid dynamics, aerosolized particulates, aerodynamics, lens and laser systems, and hazardous material processes. My supervisor however, assumed that in the two years of introductory engineering classes that I already had was sufficient for these topics. With a quick, “You should be able to manage” and a high level of expectation, my supervisor dropped this bomb of “I have no idea what is going on” on me and left me to figure things out for myself.

From that moment on, I knew that I was in over my head. But I had the option of making one of two decisions which would shape how the rest of my time at the CDC would end up being either to realize that things are going to be tough and do as much as I can anyways, or taking on too much and burning out before I had even really begun. Going about my decisions in this very methodical manner allowed me to readjust myself every time a problem arose, which, in the research world, is fairly often. I experienced much more success in this manner, and learned a great deal more.

My BUCK-I-SERV trip developed my personal sense of self, whereas my CDC experience developed my professional sense of self. I ended the summer a much more well-rounded individual than when I began this journey, and will continue to use the life skills I learned until I can compound on them and grow even more. I reached my personal goals by realizing who I was in some uncomfortable situations, and learned that it is okay to be different as long as you are happy with yourself. The Misericordia House is filled with incredible memories, and I can easily say that they affected me more than I probably ever helped them during my stay. In terms of my professional goals, I learned that it is fine to not know a lot about what you are doing as long as you make the effort to try. No one is expected to know everything coming into a new field or job, but is expected to show that they can hold their own and manage by putting in effort that goes above and beyond what others would do. All in all, this summer was the first summer I truly felt like I grew into my twenty year old self, and I have no intention of stopping.

111 222 333

The Ohio Union Office of Student Life Graphics Internship

My STEP Signature Project was an internship with The Ohio Union Office of Student Life Marketing and Graphics. At The Ohio Union I would create graphic elements for university departments and student organizations of The Ohio State University community. The department or student organizations would submit a graphics request and then from there I would meet with them and discuss their specific graphic needs. Oftentimes I would create a new logo for them but additionally they would need flyer and t-shirt designs as well. Along with meeting and creating graphics for The Ohio State University communities I would also attend workshops that enhanced my marketing, fine art, and graphic skills all taught by the professional staff at The Ohio Union. I also was able to stay in Columbus during the summer and explore the area around me. I attended many festivals downtown and discovered the area that I now call my home.

I feel like I changed during my STEP signature project when I was given the opportunity to create whatever I wanted for my projects at the internship. Compared to being in class where I am limited to whatever projects or guidelines that professors set. This allowed me to become more creative and develop a skillset of fine art capabilities that I would have never discovered before. I feel like this internship has given me time to really discover who I am as a student, away from what I only learn in class. Not to mention the responsibilities of living on my own and working a 9-5 job/internship. I feel that this has made me much more mature and responsible.

I think that the relationships and events that affected me the most in my STEP Signature Project and that led to my transformation as a person were those of the relationships that I made with my co-workers throughout the summer. The Ohio Union went through a rebranding process, and with that they hired brand new, young, professional graphic designers to help with this process. The Student Life Marketing and Graphics section of the The Ohio Union now has a unique design edge with these new staff members. I was lucky enough to intern with them and learn things that I would have never learned before.

Since this new design staff were each from different backgrounds it made it interesting to learn about them and from them. One designer, Rob, was from Kent State University’s design program, which is more focused on the fine art side of design versus the technological side that Ohio State often focuses on. From Rob I learned how to paint with water colors, use calligraphy pens, create acrylic textures, and a range of other fine art capabilities. This really got me interested in digital illustration. I was able to use my hand drawn elements and scan them into the computer and manipulate them to create the effects that I wanted. I had never thought of doing this before, and it opened my eyes to a way of designing that I otherwise would not have known existed.

I learned from another designer, Aaron, how to create simple media based designs that allowed me to explore a new realm of possibility. Aaron shared a lot of his inspiration with me, which led me to being able to explore completely new designers and new sources of creativity that I had not known about beforehand. He helped me in many ways, simplify my work and become more concise in my designing abilities.

Another professional staff designer that I really looked up to during my internship was Camilla. Camilla (or Cam as we call her) is very very good at hand lettering, which is drawing out text in a unique way. Over the summer I had so many opportunities to create projects that I wanted to create, and to do things I enjoyed in order to create them. Cam helped me in many ways, learn control and patience when drawing letterforms and creating specific hand done elements for my projects.

In many ways I learned very valuable skills from each graphic design staff member and this ultimately shaped my experience into one that I can say, truly transformed me into a more informed and driven designer.

This change is very significant and valuable in my life because it allowed me to explore opportunities that I can pursue as a career in the future. If I had not gotten this internship, and not met the people that I have met then I would not have been any closer to deciding on how I want to contribute my talents to this world. I can say that learning these specific skills from people who have been through my same college program, and who practice these skills every day in their career has given me a better perspective on what I want to do in the future. I have realized that I want to become more influenced by fine art, and perhaps even become a hand letterer, or digital illustrator. If I can’t directly chase these goals I want to at least incorporate them more into my skill set. I originally wasn’t sure what I would do with a graphic design degree, but I definitely knew I wanted to pursue something in the creative field. Now I know what I want to center my career around. Without this internship experience and relationships that I made with the staff, I feel I would have never explored these paths and realized my true passion for them. tumblr_npzo3kvARE1uvsnqio3_1280 tumblr_nq599vF8F61uvsnqio3_1280 tumblr_nuxg45KgEw1uvsnqio1_1280

Plant Pathology Internship

Margaret Moodispaw


My STEP signature project consisted of participating in the Summer Research Internship in Plant Pathology at the OARDC. This internship helped teach me key laboratory skills and research methods, while researching an area that I am interested in. My research project investigated downy mildew on cucurbits and ways to help control the spread of this disease. Along with conducting my own research, I was able to help other members of the labs with their projects, giving me a broader view of the field of plant pathology, and I had the opportunity to help the lab with diagnostic work.

My STEP project helped me think about my future, what I want to do in life, and how I am going to reach my goals. Before starting this internship I had an interest in plant pathology. This research internship helped me discover a deeper passion of mine that I was unaware of, my passion for plants and diseases that affect them. Having previously worked in the plant pathology lab a had a very basic understanding of these diseases and how they plants reacted to them; however, this past summer I gained more knowledge about several of the diseases, specifically downy mildew. The knowledge that I gained, the lab techniques, and research experience will not only look good on my résumé but it has also caused me to reevaluate my life goals.

A key factor in my experience was working with a great faculty member and other amazing people in the lab. Yes, I had worked in the lab before, knew my way around, knew most of the people; making it easier for me to adjust and work on my project. Everyone there was a great help, they answered any question I had and were able to give suggestions on how to better my project.

Along with other lab members helping with my project, I got the opportunity to help them with theirs. I was able to learn a lot about their research topics and I was able to get to know them even better. Due to this, I was able to explore the different areas of the field, such as fungal diseases, bacterial diseases, and other diagnostic work, and determine which area I most enjoyed.

The ability for me to explore these topics and pick what interested me the most helped me to think about my future. These opportunities have changed my perspective about my career goals and about working in a research field. Because of the people I worked with and all of the learning opportunities I had, I was able to decide that I would like to change my educational goals by switching my undergraduate major to plant pathology or adding plant pathology as a minor to my current major.

Knowing that I will soon have to make decisions that will affect my future in large ways, I am glad that this opportunity helped me to figure out a passion that can help make my future even more enjoyable. I have decided to continue work in this subject and cannot wait to get back into the lab and do more research. I found something that I enjoy and still have a lot to learn about and that is why it so exciting to me. I never thought about doing research when I was younger, especially not research about plants and their diseases, but this internship has opened my eyes to all of the possibilities for my future. By doing something unexpected I was able to learn more about myself, and that is even more valuable to me then helping me figure out what I want to do in the future.

12036729_1673928959497284_1996298037544657280_n thumb_IMG_5607_1024 thumb_IMG_7370_1024