STEP Internship at Fit2Play

By Talia Pangalangan

For my STEP experience, I chose to do an internship at the company Fit2Play. Fit2Play is an athletic training business that primarily focuses on increasing performance in young athletes. This company is located in Columbus and all the trainings are done in different rented or public locations depending on the clientele.

I had chosen this particular internship because it would provide me with additional knowledge to help me in my future career plan of becoming a physical therapist. I have always thought that I would like to work with either children or athletes, so combining the two into one internship experience was a great opportunity. I initially thought that the internship coordinator would have me quietly assisting the personal trainer. I am naturally very quiet, and had assumed that I would mostly be doing behind the scenes work with setting up for drills and such.

My responsibilities gradually grew to the point that I was running complete training sessions on my own. It was really surprising for me because at the beginning of my internship, I did not think I would have been able to conduct them on my own. My communication skills grew, and I was able to show confidence in my instruction. I not only learned how to deal with children and teenagers, but also the parents of the athletes. It was very rewarding for me to learn enough about the training that I felt able to discuss them in different ways depending on the population.

A large portion of my transformation came from the close relationship I created with the personal trainer that supervised all training sessions. He has been working in the field for over twenty years and is very knowledgeable. I believe that mentoring under him was extremely beneficial in my entire transformational experience. Not only did he teach me valuable information about the training field, but he also taught me how to communicate this information to the athletes and their parents.

I believe that this relationship aided me in my transformation because it helped me to feel more comfortable in running sessions independently. I would not have been able to achieve the level I did if it were not for him pushing me out of my comfort zone. I am normally too shy to ask for more responsibilities, so in the beginning it was him adding new duties to my title. By the end of my internship, the close mentor relationship I had formed, along with the self-confidence that had grown, really left me with a lasting impression for future endeavors.

I also believe that the population I was training encouraged my growth. It helped that I was working with young children to adolescents. I feel comfortable with children and I was able to relate with the high school athletes being that I just was one a couple years ago. Because I felt more comfortable in this environment, I was able to move out of my comfort level more.

My internship experience also affected me personally by allowing me with the opportunity to gain firsthand knowledge of training athletes. Though I am an exercise science major and learn many of the physiological and psychological aspects of exercise, it was refreshing to gain actual field experience. I enjoyed integrating myself into a slightly different field than just physical therapy, and I liked meeting the young athletes.

My experience allowed me to grow in my field and gain insight as to what is being done at the training level. PT’s generally only see athletes after an injury has occurred, but my i nternship at Fit2Play allowed me to learn what is being done in order to prevent an injury in the first place. I saw how something as simple as tweaking the way a person runs and changes directions can save them from potentially large injuries like a torn knee ligament. My time at Fit2Play showed me that I enjoy working on the training side of things and am contemplating getting a wellness certification so that I can begin training other people. The communication skills that I learned during my internship will also translate well into the physical therapy field.

11782259_10207538857415890_693345535061843337_o IMG_2667

STEP Internship Experience: Cooper Tire & Rubber Co. Materials Lab

For my STEP signature project, I worked an internship at Cooper Tire & Rubber Company in Findlay, Ohio. I worked as a chemical engineering co-op in the Materials Lab at the Technical Center.

I was contacted by the company, and at the time I had never even heard of it. I accepted the internship because it was the only one I was offered. Going into the internship, I had no interest in the tire business or polymers. After working at Cooper for a term, I have gained great interest in polymers. I now plan on taking at least one polymer technical elective for my major and potentially getting a polymer specialization for my degree.

Another big thing I learned was that the results in the real world vary significantly from the theoretical results sometimes. Due to this, one has to be ready for anything and everything that could possibly go wrong.

On my very first day, my mentor handed me a book about rubber. I spent the first week or so just reading it in order to gain a fundamental understanding, since I had absolutely no knowledge of tires coming in. It was a lot of information to take in, and a lot of it didn’t make much sense. My mentor assured me that it would make more sense when I started my projects.

The main project I worked on involved dynamic mechanical analysis, which involves analyzing the response of rubber to stress at different temperatures and frequencies. The purpose was to validate a new specimen preparation methodology. At first I tested three different types of rubber and analyzed the results by comparing them to those of two other people and to the actual values. The results were quite different between the three of us, and there was also a significant difference in the data all three of us got and the actual data at the higher frequencies.

I presented the results to another group, and we collaborated about ways to try to reduce the variation in the data. After making the adjustments and analyzing new data the variation was drastically decreased, but the same discrepancies in the data were present. Due to this, I tested many different rubbers to see if the results were the same, and the irregularities were present at the same frequency values for each rubber sample tested. I tested the same samples on a newer version of the same machine under the same conditions as before and didn’t notice the irregularities. From this, I concluded that the machine I was working on was broken in one way or another.

By getting to test many different polymers, I got to see some of the different characteristics that I read about firsthand. I never would have thought that natural rubber, polybutadiene rubber, and styrene-butadiene rubbers would act so differently. Also, I was very discouraged after I found out that the machine that I had been using all semester was broken. I felt like everything I had done was a waste of time, but my mentor assured me that what I had discovered was very important. The company bought a newer version of the old machine and was going to have the old machine repaired, so that the test methodology I helped develop and refine could be implemented full-time. One of the most personally satisfying parts of the entire internship was one day after I had rewritten the specimen preparation procedure, my mentor told me that our team at the Asia Tech Center over in China wanted to use the methodology I had prepared for their testing. This made all of the frustration very satisfying.

Through the analyzation of the many different polymer compounds, I got to see the vast difference in performance characteristics exhibited. It amazed me that how a tiny difference in formulation or mixing or cure time could have such a big impact on the results of the final product. Moreover, my experiences with Murphy’s law last semester, although extremely frustrating at times, were very rewarding. In the classroom, various professors mentioned that things will not always work like they should, but this was the first time that I actually got to experience this for myself.

Furthermore, my new interest in polymers and time at Cooper will definitely influence my coursework choices, and my full-time job search following graduation because I had an amazing experience at Cooper last fall and look forward to coming back this summer.