STEP Reflection: GE Aviation Software Internship

Name: Courtney Campbell

Type of Project: Summer 2017 Internship

For my STEP project, I focused on my professional development by doing an internship with GE Aviation in Evendale, OH. I was a software intern in the Test Systems Engineering department where I would maintain their software packages. I also was a part of the Professional Development Committee (PDC), where I helped coordinate lunch and learns with executives and other intern events. During and after my internship, it inspired me to take a few different coding courses to put into practice what I had learned over the summer.

Unlike most interns, I ended up living at home and commuting to work. This was the first time I ever had to pay anyone to live somewhere and also having to use a car to get to work. Ohio State is a very walkable campus, so it was definitely a change for me. Driving an hour to work in the morning and in the afternoon was eye-opening. It was eye-opening in the way I got to understand what it possibly may feel like to work full-time in a different city once I graduate college. Having STEP funds to cover my gas expenses and living at home expenses were nice because it gave me a chance to really focus on getting experience with industry software without worrying about paying rent or gas.

My first day, I was extremely nervous since this was my first internship and I came in with the assumption that this internship would be super high level and that I wouldn’t be able to understand anything. After the first two or so weeks, I definitely had a different mindset. I realized that none of the people in my department knew everything; they all were in my position when they started at GE and it was completely okay that they had to learn some things on the fly. The tech industry is moving so fast, there’s no way that you can always be caught up and know everything that’s happening. I think that was the biggest transformation in myself. It’s okay to not know everything and it’s okay to say when you’re confused or lost because people are always willing to help.

My first week was definitely difficult, just because of catching up to what my department was doing and trying to remember everyone’s names and positions. I had to learn a whole new programming language and learn the code the department used to build their applications. At first, it was really daunting. I came in afraid of what I should start on and I also didn’t get my laptop until the second week of my internship, so it was giving me some anxiety and fear. But I had one really great engineer who would take time out of his day to go over anything and everything. That gave me much more confidence and let me know that even though the department had me as their only CS intern, they still really cared. The same engineer sent me a really nice email the week after my internship ended just to say I did the department proud and that there’s so many companies that would love to have me. That had such an effect on me just because I did struggled and he knew that and made some mistakes, but I did my very best, which is enough. My manager was also very supportive which made my experience so much better.

Other than building relationships with GE Aviation employees, there was a big focus on professional development. Since GE Aviation is such a large company, and then the whole GE company is even bigger, they implemented a Facebook page where interns could watch interviews with various executives, all done by GE interns. There were tons of interesting people, and they all had great advice about making the most of your internship. My favorite professional development session had to be the LinkedIn workshop. I was done by the GE branding manager and it gave me some great insight and advice to promoting myself online and creating my personal brand.

The Ohio State network is so strong, and it was so prominent at GE. I attended a lunch with all the Ohio State interns and co-ops along with many Ohio State graduates who ended up doing full-time at GE. It was very impressive to talk to them about how they made the transition from college to full-time, and hearing from a few of them who were now in senior positions was very inspiring. They were all down to earth and they definitely cared about what us interns had to say and what we thought about the company, including our intern assignments. I remember a couple women talked to me about feeling in adequate when they started, but they found mentors that cared about their success. It made me a lot less afraid of when I do graduate and go into full-time; there are people rooting for you every step of the way.

As a black woman in computer science, companies that are dedicated to giving everyone a seat at the table like GE are so important to me. I want to work for a company that knows that diversity is one of the most important things to have and will support me to do my best for them and for myself. I got my first internship my second year, so I wasn’t an expert on how to do internships correctly, but I’m happy I was able to receive an internship where I struggled a little bit. This is valuable for life because you have to realize disappointments happen and you won’t always be ahead, and learning it early is so helpful because you’ll know how to deal with it when you actually get to your full-time job and it’s going to be so much easier to handle. Everyone should do at least one internship or co-op during their academic career; I feel like I learned so much about my field and what I actually want to do in the future.

STEP Reflection

The main purpose of my STEP Signature Project was to immerse myself in a hospital setting in order to prepare myself for my future education and career in nursing. I used my funding to take a State Certified Nurse Aid class over the past summer. This gave me the certification to work for and get a job in the hospital during the school year. I obtained a job at the Ohio State University Brain and Spine Hospital as a student intern. From this experience, I was able to get my feet wet in the hospital and learn a little bit more about working along side nurses and doctors.

From my time in the hospital, I have learned a lot more about myself and have built confidence in my ability to become a successful nurse. Before I had started, I was admittedly very nervous about working with actual patients and I felt anxious that I would make a mistake with a patient. At times, I very seriously doubted my ability to become a well-spoken and intelligent nurse. Before my time at the hospital, I was not sure if I had even chosen the right major for myself.

However, working in the hospital setting has made me more comfortable with my choice in becoming a nurse. I was able to work with other Student Nurse Aids and Patient Care Assistants as well as nurses. Overall, the experience allowed me to see what a daily day of a nurse would be like and made me much more excited for my future career.

There were a few scenarios in my time at the hospital that gave me insight to multiple aspects of the life of a nurse. One extremely important part of nursing is charting the data of each patient that you care for. This is very important for the health and safety of the patient, but it also important to record each task you do in order to keep track for liability issues. Hence, IHIS, which is the main program that is used within hospitals to track patients and scheduling, it an important tool to become accustomed to. During my time in the hospital, I was taught how to track everything in IHIS and this gave me the chance to become familiar with the program that I will be using every day in my future career.

Alongside using IHIS, I was able to communicate and speak with many nurses each day at work. This gave me the chance to learn a lot about what their lives are like and also hear interesting stories of things that had happened in the hospital. I also learned that a very important part of becoming a successful nurse is learning how to multitask and most importantly, learn how to properly communicate. Communicating is very important because it is crucial to translating messages about the patient and what still needs to happen in order to create the best care for a patient.

While most of my work at the hospital was desk work and organizing, I also started to get familiar with and train with the SNA and PCA workers. I helped to transport patients and move them from the recovery to room to the Post-Care floor. This helped my confidence in speaking to patients and gave me the opportunity to learn how to properly talk with both doctors and patients during their time in the hospital.

Overall, my time at the hospital was very important and has significantly changed my viewpoint on my undergraduate major. Being able to get involved in the hospital has given me a lot of confidence and has made me less nervous for my clinical rounds this semester. I am excited to get started with my career as a nurse and this STEP signature project has instilled in me the self-assurance that I am on the right career path and will, one day, be a successful nurse.

LyondellBasell Internship STEP Project

For my STEP project, I did a Co-op at LyondellBasell at their Houston refinery. I spent 15 weeks last fall semester working as a full-time electrical engineer in the reliability department at the refinery. My main responsibilities were to troubleshoot, engineer, implement and/or improve process measurement and instrumentation, control systems, safety systems, process analyzers, process control computers and networks.

Through this experience, I was able to get a taste of what the oil and gas industry is like for electrical engineers. Electrical engineers in oil and gas are mainly concerned with the reliability of the plant. This means that we are supposed to be monitoring critical systems using instrumentation techniques and replacing expired parts out in the field. I was able to relate what I had learned in my classes to real-life applications through projects that I worked on. While this experience has taught me a lot of things that I enjoy doing as an engineer, it also opened my eyes to things that I do not like. For example, working in oil and gas has helped me to realize that I am interested in working in a more technology related field and that I would love to live in Texas later in my life.

The projects that I had worked on during my term led me to the transformation that I would like to work in a more technology related field. For my projects, I worked with machines and systems that have been around for the past 70 years. Equipment such as heat exchangers, pumps, cokers, distillation towers, valves, etc. My job was to maintain these old technologies by replacing them out in the field with more up to date equipment. I want to work in a field where I will be working with others to produce cutting-edge technologies in order to benefit the human race. For example, renewable energies, robotics, artificial intelligence, semiconductors are all fields of electrical engineering that I realized would be a better fit with what my aspirations are.

Another reason that has driven me to consider a technology field of work is that in the oil and gas industry, electrical engineers do not have much of an impact on the end product. Chemical engineers are the ones who contribute to the end product because they work more with the process of making oil and gas. They make the most impact on the end product and this has made me realize that I need to be working in a job that parallels this. Power, distribution, technology, or any other field that allows the opportunities for electrical engineers to shine is what will satisfy me more in the long run.

During my STEP project, I was able to travel all over Texas. I explored Houston, Dallas, San Antonio, and Austin. I fell in love with the city of Austin and I really would like to live there later in my life. One of my good friends who graduated from OSU last year currently lives there. I visited him and showed me around the city. I learned that the city is a technology hub and full of ambitious and young people. I would love to work at one of these tech companies and live in Austin later in my life. I would not have been able to get this experience if it had not been for my STEP signature project.

This transformation of understanding that I would like to live in Austin and work at a technology company is very important to understand that I want to do with my career. It has helped me to set goals for myself in order to achieve what interests me. I am also now able to decide what classes to take at Ohio State that will help push me in that direction. My STEP project at LyondellBasell in Houston, TX has taught my so much and was such a valuable experience. It has changed the course of my career and my life goals.



Quincey Patterson: STEP Internship Reflection

Name: Quincey Patterson

Project: Internship

For my STEP signature project I chose to pursue an internship with Harley-Davidson Motor Company in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin. While working for Harley-Davidson I was assigned to a Powertrain Development team where I worked on various product development projects throughout my 8 month term.

Through this opportunity I was able to learn a lot about myself over the course of my 8 month stay in Wisconsin. This was first true experience of living on my own. Before I had lived in the dorm so buying food and other necessities, being the only person responsible for cleaning the living space, and keeping track of my utility usage was never truly required or necessary. Through this I learned that I’m not as much of an introverted person as I would have previously thought. I had surprised myself with how easy and willingly I would put myself in-front of people I had never met, knowing they would by my co-works and bosses, to communicate and socialize with them. Most courses I’m currently in don’t really require a person to ever talk to anyone or speak in-front of the class so noticing this about myself showed how much I had opened up from my more introverted days. Additionally, I can recall two instances of sharing space with people, which I previously would have been uncomfortable. One was with a camping trip several other interns helped organize where I ended up sharing a tent an primitive campsite with people didn’t exactly know very well, but I ended up having fun and not focusing on sharing that small of a space with people I didn’t know. The other instance was in the workplace when I received a neighbor in my cubicle. He was an older gentleman who was rather talkative, upbeat and since I was still a student he took an interest in me and my work. This would mean he would constantly slide his chair into my workspace to look at what I was working on with my computer. At first, I didn’t like the proximity, but I eventually grew to not mind and even enjoyed the interest he had and the input I would get from him. I also found that while I had become more outgoing over the years than I had thought, I still needed other people as I wouldn’t leave my apartment if I didn’t have work or need to go shopping, with the exception of a few hiking and fishing trips, unless someone else was making plans and wanted someone to tag along.

In the workplace I learned how to defend my ideas against scrutiny from those who may know more about the subject than I do. A specific case of this is where I was working on a project involving human factors involving thermal comfort and I was able to respectfully and successfully defend my testing plan against scrutiny from people who actually had their degrees and had worked in those areas. However, I also learned my on-the-spot speaking skills are not as sharp as I had previously thought, but I had plenty of opportunities to work that. Most mornings my manager would call together an update meeting and occasionally I would be asked to speak and the first several times I was caught off guard and not able to effectively relay my “report.” Overtime though this improved whether through constantly being prepared to report or just the improvement of my ability to communicate when being put on the spot.

These transformations are significant to me because I was able to get a sort of reality check on my interpersonal skills and how I would operate in a professional setting. I believe the changes will impact me positively as I finish up my education and begin building a career as being able to communicate with others and interact with them both professionally and socially is a big part of moving up in a company. Additionally, the ability to successfully defend my arguments while still being concise and respectfully to superiors is important. This can be especially difficult when you’re trying to challenge your boss or people reporting to your boss, while at the same time not come off as being arrogant, rude and disrespectful. Overall, I would consider the experience I had at my Co-op with Harley-Davidson to be an extremely positive one and the transformation I underwent will definitely be helpful in my life and professional career.


Name: Michaela Shanahan

Project type: Internship

  1. Please provide a brief description of your STEP Signature Project.

My STEP project was an engineering co-op with Toyota in Ann Arbor, MI. I worked 40+ hours a week in the interior design division focusing on the instrument panel, center console, and door trim for Tundra, Tacoma, and Sequoia.

  1. What about your understanding of yourself, your assumptions, or your view of the world changed/transformed while completing your STEP Signature Project?

Working full time in an engineering job for the first time in my life was very eye opening. I learned what the day to day work environment of being a design engineer looks like and how important company culture is. I went into my co-op with little to no expectations of what I was getting myself into, but I quickly learned what I do and do not want in a future job. My understanding of what I want out of an employer changed during my STEP project. I learned that my career is more than just a job and that I need a company that will foster my career development while still working with me to achieve ideal work-life balance. Toyota was a great company for my first co-op, as it showed me how crucial company culture is, that employers are able to and should promote work-life balance, and that employers should foster career development. Without this transformative experience, I would have probably settled for a terrible job after I graduated because I would not have known any better. Now I know what to look for in a future employer thanks to this experience.

  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?

While I was at Toyota, I had the opportunity to take training courses to enhance my professional development and understanding. One course I took was a hybrid culture class. Toyota is a Japanese company and has a unique blend of American and Japanese practices. Taking this class introduced me to the company culture Toyota promotes. Seeing a company as large as Toyota offer a hybrid culture class was eye opening to me, as this company truly valued its culture and wanted to share these values with their employees.

During my co-op, I had the opportunity to network with other employees and pick their brains on prospective career paths for myself. One employee I talked to started out in the STEM field in the quality division of Toyota. After years in quality, he decided he enjoyed being a facilitator for trainings and would prefer to work in the talent development division. Toyota allowed him to move into the talent development division without taking any sort of pay cut, as STEM field positions usually have a higher salary than human resources positions. Hearing from a Toyota employee that he was able to stay within the company but find something he loved really showed me that companies are willing to work with their employees to allow them to pursue their passions.

Another thing I noticed at Toyota was how flexible management was with work schedules. I just needed to get my 40 hours a week in and attend my regularly scheduled meetings. Other coworkers would work four 10 hour days and not work Fridays or work four 9 hour days to have a half day on Friday. I also knew people who would come in at 5:30 AM and leave earlier so they could spend time with their kids. Seeing a company that is flexible with their employees’ personal schedules was incredible and promoted work-life balance, which is something I now look for in an employer.

  1. Why is this change/transformation significant or valuable for your life?

This experience was incredibly valuable for my life. It showed me what I like and what I do not like in the engineering field and in an employer. I now know that I do not really like the design phase and would probably prefer an evaluation position, which helps me know what jobs to look for once I graduate. This time away from classes for a semester also gave me the opportunity to focus on my own mental health in regard to work-life balance, which is really important for my personal wellness. Having this co-op experience has shaped what I look for in an employer and has opened several doors for me at Toyota, if I choose to stay there after I graduate. Due to this experience, I feel more confident in my future professional path and my future as a whole.

GE Aviation Internship in Cincinnati OH


Peebles Test Operation

  1. Please provide a brief description of your STEP Signature Project.

This past semester, I spent the duration of the academic semester working for GE Aviation in Cincinnati, Ohio. I was placed in the Military Propulsion and Power Engineering (MPPE) Division, where I pushed my own boundaries and those of the company by progressing work in digital scanning, point-cloud reverse engineering, and turbine engine foam-washing.

  1. What about your understanding of yourself, your assumptions, or your view of the world changed/transformed while completing your STEP Signature Project?

The setting of the corporate work world was widely different from the confines of academia, and exposure to it fostered growth that no classroom could ever provide. This was my first real exposure to the working world and to what my life after graduation may very well hold, so naturally it took me awhile to acclimate to the differences between this and school. I quickly learned that at a large company such as GE, you must be the advocate for your own success and take it upon yourself to thrive. Unlike school, where academic advisors, program leaders, and mentors all have a vested interest in your success and are readily available to help plan your future for you, the corporate world offered no such luxuries or comforts. Oftentimes, this required more individual initiative to be taken.

My views of accountability also changed following the completion of this internship. Prior to the work experience, in academic terms, accountability meant that you had a prescribed set of work that was expected of you, perhaps including regular class attendance (ex: Anything on the Syllabus). These expectations were clearly spelled out. If the syllabus prescribed that students were to complete a given set of homework problems, then that is exactly what they could expect to complete; nothing more, and nothing less. In reality, regular class attendance may not even be required for several classes. In contrast, the expectations set forth in the workplace are nowhere near as clearly defined. Oftentimes, they require putting in far more effort than what may have been originally understood because the completion of one task leads to another, which leads to another, etc. The optional attendance of many college classes has no translation into the work place: repeated tardiness and absence are grounds for firing and dismissal. After completing this co-op experience, my attitude on general accountability has been transformed in a way that is sure to make me a better student for my remaining years at Ohio State.


  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?

At GE Aviation and in the workplace in general, I found that group co-operation was challenged beyond what is normally experienced in school. In academic class projects, it is often the case that students can select their own groups. This generally leads to good outcomes, as students can choose to work with students with which they share similar work values and are amicable. This is not always the case, however, as random group parings are not uncommon. These academic random group pairings create diverse and multifaced groups in terms of demographics, but all group participants are on the same standing in terms of rank/authority (namely: undergraduate students at OSU). In the workplace, there is no luxury of choosing your group for projects. You work with whomever is on your team, or with whomever the job function requires you to coordinate. Consequently, these teams will often be equally as demographically diverse as academic groups, but they have the added complexity of containing members of different ranks / authority levels. As an intern at GE I was at the lowest of these levels, but my team projects required cooperation with other co-ops, entry-level professional engineers, senior engineers, and of course management. As disagreements arose, this dynamic demanded different courses of action than that of any academic project I had yet experienced, because of the increased diversity of the group. We too often think of diversity in terms of simply demographics, but it includes aspect such as age and rank within a company. Working in projects at GE exposed me to this new and often overlooked aspect of diversity, and made me a better team-mate because of it.

Unexpectedly, my work experience at GE Aviation led me to an incredible service opportunity. The Lighthouse community school in Cincinnati is a charter school that offers unconventional learning opportunities that have proven particularly effective in the schools low-income neighborhood. Through urban agriculture and maintaining their own urban farm, students are able to learn about values of mathematics, economics, nutrition, and biology, all while taking ownership in the process. However in Cincinnati, this urban agriculture is not feasible for several months of the school year.

This is where GE Aviation, also located in Cincinnati, stepped in to give back to the community. GE bought the school a (relatively large) greenhouse to put in their parking lot, so that the students could continue to grow crops throughout the winter. Although the greenhouse came in a kit, it required a great deal of assembly, and who better to follow the tedious assembly and construction steps than a group of eager volunteer engineers? The effort to construct the greenhouse was a massive undertaking, and spanned several months, but I was lucky enough to be part of its construction. On two separate days, I spent the duration of the workday volunteering in the hot sun to construct the heavy metal frame of this greenhouse. Although skeptical at first, the experience turned out to more rewarding and valuable than those days would have been if I stayed in the office for traditional work. On the site we met with the school superintendent and some of the kids of the school, who looked at the GE Volunteers with a degree of admiration. The experience was a meaningful reminder that, although working hard and career success ins important, it is not everything, and giving back to the community is always a worthwhile cause.

  1. Why is this change/transformation significant or valuable for your life?

This change and this internship experience was significant to my life for several reasons. First, it was the first time that I lived completely independently and functioned exactly as a work-force adult would. I was the farthest away from home that I had ever been for any extended duration, and I was responsible for taking care of myself in every aspect of life. It gave me a new outlook on what it means to be away from home and family, and helped me reach the conclusion that I would like to stay as close as possible to my family following graduation.

Lastly, this internship could very well develop into a full-time employment opportunity. If true, this would represent the single most important experience of college for me. Because the goal of a college education is to make yourself marketable for post-graduation employment, this internship experience was a considerable step towards reaching that ultimate goal. I gained experience in the field that I would like to enter, and it helped to confirm that I am in fact entering the right industry.

Volunteer Group


LyondellBasell Internship Reflection

This fall semester, I had the opportunity to work as a process/polymer engineer in the petrochemical industry with the company LyondellBasell at their Morris, Illinois site. LyondellBasell is a global company that produces chemicals, fuel, technology, and polymers that are used in everyday life. In my role as a process/polymer engineer at the Morris site I was responsible for working on about 4 major projects throughout the term but also attending daily meetings and tending to smaller day-to-day tasks. One of the major projects that I worked on that had a potential cost savings of close to $250,000.
One of the most important transformations I had during this fall term would be my ideology on how to become successful in the professional realm. Before this co-op, I used to think that the best way to become professionally successful was to do it on your own. By this, I simply mean working “hard” by yourself and not asking others for any help because you should have the knowledge to solve a problem by yourself. However, after two months on the job, I quickly learned that reaching out for help, asking, questions, and in general, having good interactions with your co-workers is vital to completing your projects in a time efficient manner. Knowing everything, especially as an intern, is impossible. That means that it is vital to build good relationships with as many people possible at work because you never know when that relationship could help you.
During my internship, there were several instances that led to my change in professional ideology. I would say the first time that I realized that I couldn’t do everything by myself and that I would need help to make it in this internship was about 2 weeks into my internship. During my second week of my internship, I was given what many of the experienced engineers considered a “easy and straight forward” project, however, I did not think it was. This was my first project and only my second week on the job so I was not accustomed to the employees or the “lingo” that was being used to describe the project. Because of this, my “easy and straight forward” project became more difficult because I was reluctant to ask the necessary questions to even get started on the project. Instead I sat in my office for a few days trying to search through our database to find the answers that someone could have easily told me.
After my fruitless search through the database, I realized that I was wasting more time by trying to be my own “hero” and do this project on myself. My ego and ideology on succeeding professionally was actually hurting not only me, but my company because I was not being productive. When I had this realization, I finally mustered up my pride and walked into my mentor’s office and asked for the help that I desperately needed to get started with my project. Before I asked my mentor for help, I was not sure how he would take my need for help. After all, this was a project that many considered “easy and straight forward”. However, to my surprise he was welcoming to my questions and was even surprised I hadn’t asked for help sooner. From that point on, completing that project really turned out to be as easy and straight forward as the other engineers originally thought.
I also had a similar revelation about the importance of work relationships when I worked one full week on the night shift with my site operators. LyondellBasell runs 24/7 and our plant operators alternate between working on day shift and during the night shift. My objective of working a week of nights was to get to know the operators better on a personal level because they are an integral part of the company and are the people that put in the manual labor. While I was initially not excited to be working from 4:30 pm to 2:30 am, this experience turned out to be great because I got to know them all very well and appreciate the work they do on a daily basis for the company.
I would say my transformed view on reaching out for help and building relationships can be applied outside of my professional career, most notably my academic career. Often times, I try and struggle through courses and homework by myself and end up going nowhere and wasting my time. This internship has inspired me to seek out help in my courses often and early. This way, I can succeed academically as I learned how to succeed professionally.

Internship in Spain with Neck & Neck Summer 2017


  1. For my STEP Signature Project, I did an internship in Madrid, Spain through the Fisher College of Business’s Summer Global Internship Program. I was an intern in the Buying and Production Department of Neck & Neck, a children’s clothing company based in Madrid. My tasks included analyzing sales reports of recent seasons to evaluate the profitability of various styles, examining shipment samples and corresponding with suppliers to help prepare the Winter 2017 Collection, and utilizing Microsoft Excel and Navision to perform cost comparison and analyses of styles and products.


  1. Before completing my STEP signature project, I assumed that the extent to which countries overseas are affected by American culture was not very significant. However after a short time living in Spain, I realized that this was not the case. While in the workplace and throughout daily life, I was often asked questions regarding American politics and the recent presidential election. I learned that major and even minor events that occurred in American society were covered by Spanish news networks. I was also surprised to learn that American music was very popular in Spain, and even preferred over Spanish music by some Spaniards. In fact, every day at the Neck & Neck office my coworkers would turn the radio to a station that mainly played American music. Before going abroad, I probably would not have thought much about Spanish or European politics or listened to Spanish music. However, after seeing the impacts of American culture on Spain, and just from living overseas, I’ve become interested in staying informed about Spanish culture and have learned that it’s important to be aware of what’s going on around the world. Nowadays I frequently read El País, an online Spanish newspaper, in order to stay informed about what’s going on in Madrid and other Spanish cities. Also, I’ve become interested in Spanish music known as Reggaeton, which is a blend of Hip Hop and Pop.

In addition to changing my assumptions, this experience transformed the way I understand myself. Before last summer, I was apprehensive about working abroad. I thought I was not prepared to work in an environment with a different language and culture and that it would be too difficult. At the time, I had not taken any Spanish classes since high school, and I had not interned or worked in another country before. However, by the end of the program my views had completely changed. Although slightly challenging at first, overcoming a language barrier and adapting to Spanish culture was an extremely rewarding experience. Every day during my commute to work, I would read news articles in Spanish on my phone. By the end of the internship my Spanish was good enough to have basic conversations, and I was able to read it well. I also have a newfound interest in international business. With countries around the world getting more interconnected day by day, I’ve realized that it would be very useful to be bilingual or at least be familiar with another language in the workforce. Having this skill would help me stand out when applying for jobs and would broaden my career opportunities. I’m thinking about finding a career where I can work with Spanish speaking colleagues and clients, and travel/work in Spanish speaking countries.


  1. My colleagues from my department at Neck & Neck helped change my assumptions. Because there were only two other people in my department, we became close throughout the internship. They’d sometimes talk about politics with me and I was surprised to learn that they knew a lot about what was going on in America and with the recent election. They helped expose me to Spanish current events as well. A major event going on in Spain right now is Barcelona/the Catalan region trying to secede from Spain. This is a controversial topic as Madrid citizens and Barcelona citizens have very different opinions about the issue. Before coming to Spain I had brief knowledge of the issue, but it was interesting to see the perspective and learn more about the topic from a native Spaniard. Another aspect of my assumptions that changed was about the effect of American culture on Spanish music. Carmen, a girl from the design team at Neck & Neck who I frequently worked with, introduced me to Reggaeton. This style of music is a blend of Hip Hop and Pop and was inspired by American and Puerto Rican culture. Reggaeton is popular with millennials in Spain and I was surprised to find out that a lot of Reggaeton artists are actually from America.

As mentioned above, this experience helped show me that with hard work I can overcome a language barrier. However, I can attribute a lot of my success to the help of the WeFind Group (WFG). They are a company that works with Ohio State who helped place us at our internships and coordinated the program while in Spain. They were an extremely helpful resource in preparing us for Spanish culture before and during the program. For instance, they introduced us to Duolingo. This is a mobile app that provides exercises to help you learn how to read and speak a variety of languages. This was a vital resource in helping me learn Spanish and I used it a few weeks before the program started and throughout the internship. I would have not even known about the app if not for the WeFind Group. Additionally, WFG provided us the opportunity to practice our Spanish early on by working with Debora, one of the program coordinators who worked out of Madrid. Last spring semester, we had Skype calls with Debora where she tested our Spanish level and then had mock conversations and did exercises with us based on our ability. This was a very useful resource that helped make me comfortable speaking Spanish early on. Furthermore, other interactions that helped me while abroad include practicing my Spanish speaking skills everyday by having conversations with natives. I would speak with different colleagues around the office at work and with people I met at the building where I lived. My friends from the program and I got to know Carlos, a native of Spain who lived in our building and was a student at a nearby university. Often times after work we’d have a chance to practice speaking Spanish with him. He also showed us around Madrid’s markets, town squares and landmarks where we became even more exposed to the Spanish language and culture.

A big part of my transformational experience was adapting to Spanish culture. Before the program started I had never really thought too hard about the work culture in Spain, but I had always assumed it was pretty identical to working in the U.S. Spain is a modern society with many innovative and growing industries. However there are some key differences when compared to the U.S. Spain is a very family oriented culture, and it was definitely visible at Neck & Neck. Every day we would all eat lunch together around two large tables in a room known as La Cocina (the kitchen). This gave me the chance to get to know the other employees on a more personal level and was also another opportunity to practice speaking Spanish. Another aspect of Spanish culture that I became accustomed to was that the work culture is more relaxed than in the US. Like many companies in Spain during the summer, Neck & Neck had “summer hours” in which they’d start a little later and close a few hours early. Although many people probably view a shorter work day as a good thing, summer hours presented some challenges. Because I was at the office for less time each day, I had to adjust my work pace to ensure that I was getting my work done on time and meeting deadlines. I also took two subways and a bus to get to work each day and therefore I had to adjust my commute. Moreover, another part of Spanish culture that I had to adjust to was siestas. Traditional to Spain, siestas are a mid-afternoon break in which businesses close for a few hours. However, today this practice is mainly followed by small, local businesses and shops. Although Neck & Neck didn’t have siestas, I was still affected by them. Groceries stores, cafes, and barber shops that I often went to closed for siesta and so I had to plan accordingly.



  1. The transformation I experienced from my STEP Signature Project was beneficial in many ways. For instance, I am trying to pursue a career in the fashion industry, specifically in buying and merchandising. With the industry being prevalent in Los Angeles and other areas of Southern California where Spanish is widely spoken, knowing the language would be advantageous. Additionally, I may be interested in working for Zara, a clothing company based out of Spain. Having lived/worked in Madrid and having exposure to Spanish language and culture, I now possess skills that would make me success
    ful in a job with Zara. Furthermore, the fashion industry is a fast-paced environment where being adaptable and overcoming challenges are key. By doing this program, future employers will see that I have diverse experiences and the skills to overcome obstacles in the workplace and succeed in an environment that I am not accustomed to.

Lastly, after college I hope to be able to go back to Spain and backpack around Europe. Now having a strong interest in Spanish language, culture, food, and music, I am excited to go back and learn even more. Living in Spain has also inspired me to want to learn about the cultures of other countries such as Italy, France, and Portugal. I’m continuing to practice my Spanish so that I can hopefully be fluent. Knowing Spanish will be useful when traveling to these countries because the language is similar and many Europeans speak Spanish even outside of Spain. I also want to continue keeping up with major current events in Spain and across Europe so that when I go back I can have meaningful conversations with native speakers. Doing this program for my STEP Signature Project was truly a once in a lifetime experience. This program was one of the highlights of my college career and I definitely recommend it to anyone who is considering interning abroad.

My Experience in the Washington Academic Internship Program (WAIP)

Mycheala Holley

Washington Academic Internship  Program Fall 2017

  1. The Washington Academic Internship Program(WAIP) is an opportunity offered through the John Glenn College of Public Affairs at OSU which allows students of any major the opportunity to study and intern in Washington D.C. for an entire semester. Throughout my participation in the program I worked as a Judicial and Legal Education intern in the Federal Judicial Center Education Division.  In this program I was able to earn academic credit for my internship, a research seminar that required me to develop a 20-25 page policy paper, and a course on policy-making and public service which I attended once per week. 
  2. I have grown in various ways due to my participation in WAIP. For example, I now better understand the structure and function of the different levels and branches of government and I have a stronger sense of the career that I would like to pursue for my future. My participation in WAIP had been the first time that I had ever been to Washington D.C.. Therefore, I have learned a lot regarding my personal preferences in living spaces and transportation as well as professionally regarding the type of work environment that I work best in and the types of work that I enjoy being apart of.
  3. Since I was 8 years old I have always planned to become a criminal prosecutor. I have always had a passion for helping others and finding justice for those who have been victimized. After participating in WAIP, I have discovered that I have a much stronger interest and passion for helping others in a wide range of areas. I am grateful to have had the opportunity to participate in such an incredible program that has inspired me to pursue a career in public service.

The advice that I was able to receive from the numerous OSU alumni who currently live in  D.C. was one of the key factors that influenced me to be open to different career paths and opportunities. Having the opportunity to meet with OSU alumni and to speak with them about their experiences at OSU, as participants in WAIP, as interns in D.C., or how they achieved their current positions in Washington D.C. was extremely eye opening for me. I gained a lot of valuable  information regarding job searching, networking, professional etiquette, government, and various other skills that I would not have been able to obtain in any other internship program. By participating in WAIP I was able to see first-hand how supportive OSU alumni, specifically alumni of the John Glenn College of Public Affairs, truly are. The genuine care and support that they all displayed for the academic and professional success of my entire cohort was incredible. I especially appreciate how supportive all of the WAIP program staff and coordinators were.

In addition to staff and alumni support, one of the most significant experiences of my participation in WAIP was the opportunity to meet Senator Sherrod Brown. Having the opportunity to meet Senator Brown and to speak with him was an experience that validated for me the genuine, caring, and dedicated leader that he is. In fact, this experience was one of the key factors that inspired me to pursue a career in public service. It was amazing to me that Senator Brown took time from his undoubtedly demanding schedule to speak to his constituents not because he had to but because he was genuinely interested in our lives and what we had to say. This was truly an amazing experience with an inspirational and admirable leader that I will always be grateful for.

4. The Washington Academic Internship Program was extremely valuable to my academic and professional development because it not only helped me to discover an interest in career fields that I had not previously considered but I also learned a lot regarding public policy and government operations throughout my participation in the program. WAIP has had an impact on my life that I had not and possibly could not have anticipated prior to my participation. In addition to changing my career path, this experience has influenced the classes that I have chosen to registered for, the student organizations that I have inquired about, as well as the internship/job opportunities that I now seek. I have grown immensely personally, professionally and academically due to WAIP and I plan to continue to build onto that growth moving forward.

My Internship at the Legal Aid Society of Columbus

For my STEP Signature Project I interned at the Legal Aid Society of Columbus. I assisted the firm in handling client processing client information and other administrative tasks. Specifically, I worked with the bankruptcy team helping process clients for probono bankruptcy referral. This involved contacting clients and helping them gather the documents that are required to declare bankruptcy. This process would take anywhere from a week to a month, depending upon a client’s situation. I was extremely rewarding and engaging work. It showed me a completely new vantage of the Columbus community, particularly the portion of the community that lives in poverty.

I find that most people in their lives rarely leave their economic bubbles. Sure, some people volunteer their time here and abroad but these are more often than not more sightseeing trips than anything else. This is not to say that mission trips and brief volunteer efforts aren’t beneficial. They can often impact the communities and people that are their focus greatly. However, they rarely give their participants an insight into what it is like to live in true poverty. In fact, even it seems to give people the impression that they must travel to find poverty in the world. This is simply not true. Poverty exists in every part of the world. My internship at the Legal Aid Society of Columbus proved this to me. I spent every day of the summer working with people who live in the same neighborhoods as OSU students, yet can barely make ends meet. This opened my eyes to the intense struggle of those who live in poverty in my own community and has inspired me to devote the rest of my life fighting this poverty.

In addition to showing me the poverty that exists in the Columbus community my internship also showed me one of its biggest causes, predatory lending. Some will argue that predatory lending doesn’t exist, or at least those that do it aren’t really doing anything wrong. However, this is because people don’t understand the situation of the people who take out these loans. They are desperate for money and often don’t have the education and resources available to understand the nature of the loans they are taking out. They walk into a loan office and suddenly they are talked into loans with interest rates that aren’t criminal but should be. These loans keep people in poverty for life, I cannot remember how many clients came through Legal Aid during my time there that had suffered from predatory lending. People were spending often over half their incomes paying off loans that were designed to keep them in debt for life.

Everything I learned about predatory lending I learned firsthand from the clients I worked with. In fact, most of what I learned at Legal Aid I learned from interacting with clients. No client was exactly the same as the other, each had their own set of problems and concerns. As a result, each client challenged me in a new way. For some I would have to look up Ohio housing law. For others, I would have to look into traffic code. This variation in the problems of the clients challenged me and helped me to better understand both the legal system and the challenges faced by those who are not on the good side of it.

The clients at Legal Aid also taught me the challenges faced by those in poverty in our community. They didn’t come to Legal Aid for frivolous reasons. They came because their wages were being garnished to the point that they would starve. Or they came because their landlords hadn’t done repairs in years and they could barely live in their apartments anymore. The severe nature of my client’s problems showed me how different it is to live life from paycheck to paycheck. The slightest inconvenience can push you over the edge. This showed me how important institutions like Legal Aid are that help people who are struggling though poverty.

The staff of Legal Aid also helped to show me how serious poverty is. They showed me this though their dedication to their work and Legal Aid as an institution. One incident in particular showed me how difficult the lives of our clients are and how dedicated the staff of Legal Aid are. There was quite a bit of flooding earlier this week at Legal Aid. The basement carpets were flooded in places and one of the bathrooms was unusable. Yet, despite this the attorneys of Legal Aid sloshed on through and kept working. Their dedication inspired me and showed me the gravity of the world we were doing. How could attorney’s stop for rain when their clients barely have homes to stay out of the rain?

The attorneys and clients at Legal Aid have shown me a great many things about the world and myself. Firstly, it has shown me that there is a huge amount of suffering in the world and I would like to help address it. Secondly, it showed me that in order to be satisfied with my work I need to be able to form personal connections with people. I need to be able to meet the people my work is affecting. Thus, I have begun to look into specializing in a legal field that will allow me to work directly with people, in particular those who are struggling with poverty. This is a huge revelation for me, as I have been struggling with thinking of potential career paths for myself. I credit my internship at the LASC through the STEP program entirely for this revelation.