- My STEP Signature Project was an internship with Copper Run Capital. Copper Run Capital is a boutique investment bank in Columbus, OH that provides buy and sell-side advisory services. My role included helping build target list and evaluate investment opportunities for their clients.
- During my experience, my understanding of myself and assumptions of the investment banking industry changed. The major transformation I underwent was understanding how to work in a corporate setting. I learned how to balance a variety of projects coming from different supervisors. I had to prioritize certain projects based on when they were needed by and their importance. In addition, I learned a lot of information and skills necessary in the industry. I also learned from a few employees that were in my shoes a few years ago on important things to take away from my time in college. They all stressed that the necessary skills and information could be taught on the job, so what was important was forming connections and building the necessary soft skills. The experience transformed me into a person that is able to effectively manage multiple tasks at once and navigate the investment banking industry.
- The best part of the internship was the size of the company. The company is small and only has roughly 10-12 employees. This was really valuable as it gave me insight to all of their roles and I was able to hear perspectives of newer employees up to the Partners. Interning in a small company was extremely valuable.
The company had two other interns. Both of the other interns started in May, while I started in August. When I arrived, they already knew how to perform their tasks and be successful. Asking for their guidance when needed was important in getting myself up to speed and understanding the office dynamics. Working together on different tasks made it a lot more efficient and stressed importance of team work skills.
The company had four analysts/associates. They were all essentially my direct supervisor. Whenever, their plate got full and needed help to complete some of their responsibilities they would reach out to me for help. Working on projects from different people, I had to learn each one’s different preferences and the correct way to do something for one person might not be the correct way for another. They also provided valuable career advice as they were in my shoes just a few years ago.
The company had five VP/Partners. I was able to interact with them on a near daily basis. Seeing how their role compared to the analysts and associates was beneficial. Also, it was rewarding to see how some of the work I did made their life easier. Also, just having normal daily interaction with them showed me that even senior level executives are “normal” people.
- This experience was valuable to me as it gave me a step in the door in my ideal career. Not only is it an important resume builder, but it also confirmed my belief that working as an investment banker would be something I would enjoy. I enjoyed the work I was doing on and was impactful on businesses and people. I loved my internship and hopefully it will lead to a full-time position in the industry.
My role with Ohio Student Association was multi-faceted. It was titled the Cincinnati Regional coordinator. My main job description was to run the student portion of the get out the vote campaign for issue 1, while also trying to build long term commitment to community organizing. Another aspect of my job was to leverage my technical skills in computer science to build a functioning website that would better serve the needs of the organization and make it easier to connect to students.
My understanding of my limitations and capabilities shifted in this position. Whereas I walked into the position nervous about my ability to run the Cincinnati campus campaign by myself, I walked away from the experience having learned a lot about my strengths as a leader and my ability to pull people together around a cause. I also learned a lot about the best ways to build a new community on a campus. My perception of what working for a non-profit would be like also shifted. I used to see it as bureaucratic positions with drudge work that killed your passion for helping people, or at the very least burned you out.
In large part because of how small my non-profit was, I think that good leadership played a strong role in my perception of the organization and my changing perception of what working for a non-profit might look like. Because there were few employees stationed in Cincinnati, my ideas were formative to the plans made. My boss also gave me access to the decision making process, making me feel like my thoughts and considerations really mattered. In turn, I felt a lot of responsibility to the organization and to the cause, as if the decisions I made would impact how the campaign in Cincinnati played out.
I also had a lot of autonomy in how I scheduled my day and how I worked. This gave me insight into how burnout tends to be a combination of work pressure and personal habits. At the beginning of my internship, because of the thin separation between personal life and work life at this job, I felt like I was in a constant state of being on the clock. Much of my work flowed throughout my day, along with meetings being scheduled at any time of the day. Although I enjoyed the work, it was really difficult for me to make time for myself and take care of my personal needs. I knew that in a position like this for the long-term I would need to start practicing setting personal boundaries. I worked to start scheduling the time that I spent working and the time that I spent not working, and though I still felt unintentional pressure from my boss to keep working past those boundaries, I began the process of learning the most efficient way to work and still give myself time off.
Another thing that stuck out to me about the experience was about how different non-profits that we worked with had their own systems. Ohio Student Association, with its own funding sources and small ladder of command made it easier for me to interact with my boss and boss’s boss. At times, the person who ran the organization would come to see the work I was doing and we would get to talk about the future of the organization. At one point he and I had a conversation where we got to discuss what future employment with OSA might look like and a vision of the future of the organization. Other organizations with bloated structures and less personal interactions didn’t seem to have the same personal level of mentorship and as a result lacked in the personalized development opportunities.
This was a really important experience for me because it gave me an opportunity that I wouldn’t otherwise have to experience a field that is relatively separate from the world that computer science majors generally enter. Before we enter college, and sometimes throughout, we are fed a narrow definition of what success is and what job stability is, and the fear of failure makes it difficult to take opportunities that are off the beaten path. OSA and its incredible culture allowed me to see a non-profit opportunity that could combine my relevant skills with my passion for community organizing, and that’s an experience I will always be grateful for.
For my STEP Signature Project, I interned at Marathon Petroleum Corporation (MPC) as a Co-op Developer in the IT Marketing Applications group. Here, I was able to establish professional relationships with many great mentors and develop my coding skill-set.
Coming out of an internship I had over the summer near home, I was looking forward to realizing the differences between a non-profit and a corporation. For the first few weeks of my co-op at MPC, I was able to learn industry standards that, after reflection, I could easily integrate into my educational career. These standards will be something that I will continually uphold in my classes. It was different to see the computer science topics implemented in the work environment and these topics were better understood after realizing how important they were in the career-space.
During the co-op, there were a multiple of activities that MPC hosted for the other co-ops to enrich our experiences there. It was great to work with other co-ops and understand their work assignments. Interacting with other co-ops, I was able to learn about MPC more and the other Business processes that MPC possess. From my experience, the MPC work environment was very inclusive and I felt comfortable confiding with my supervisor and mentor with anything work-related that was on my mind. With these social and professional events with other co-ops, I was able to better communicate with other students my age in a professional manner. I believe this will contribute to better relations with students at OSU in my classes.
A key aspect of my experience was the routine of my day. During my co-op, I was able to learn how to create good habits like waking up early and plan out my day. Since I was following a routine, I was able to accomplish a tremendous amount of work during my term. This routine freed up my nights and allowed me to read more books and write in my personal journal more often. Here, I was able to reflect on my days and relax my mental capabilities as I was able to realize my days when I was able to go to sleep. I have been continuing these great habits here at OSU where I hope to adjust quickly to the academic sphere and find success.
This co-op was also a great opportunity for me experience an exuberant amount of individualism and independence. As I was able to follow my routine I set up for myself, it was essential that I learned how provide and care for myself. This included learning how to cook more food options and restocking on house-hold essentials. Although this may sound a bit trivial, I was able to take on a lot more responsibility and this responsibility made me appreciate my life and the privileges I have more!
This previous co-op was a great and beneficial change for me as I was able to develop my professional mannerisms and career. From the beginning of my freshman year, I sought an education at The Ohio State University to improve my and my family’s life. Throughout this journey, I have struggled, dealt with mental health, and faced many difficult obstacles. All these events led and guided me through this experience and being able to take a break from campus and develop professional skills allowed me to truly reflect on my life, gain greater independence, and enrich and motive me to further reach my future goals and aspirations.
For my STEP project, I represented OSU as a John Glenn Fellow in DC through the Washington Academic Internship Program (WAIP) through the John Glenn College of Public Affairs. I interned at the US Department of Education in the Office of Innovation and Improvement working on the Magnet Schools Assistance Program (MSAP), a grant that works towards the desegregation of schools.
My second day in DC we wrote letters to our future self about what we hoped to get out of the program. I can happily say I gained everything I had in that letter and so much more. To begin, my confidence grew significantly through this program. As a young professional, I did not feel confident in my ability to interact with professionals or my ability to network. This program reinforced that I am capable of this and gave me the skills needed to interact with those who are well into their career.
This program also changed the way I viewed my future career. I thought I had to be on a direct path, but through this program I gained the perspective that this does not have to be the case. I feel confident in my ability to move to DC with or without a job and navigate myself into a successful career. Finally, it made me more passionate about my views and my goals for the future. I have a clear vision of what I want in the future and this program gave me the confidence to go after that with everything I have.
One of the main reasons I grew so much throughout my time in DC was the programming that we had while we were there. Through different sessions on networking, public speaking, and mindfulness, I was able to develop a set of skills that allowed for me to gain the confidence to seek opportunities and better myself. Another impactful experience was meeting people who worked for Senator Glenn. It changed my perspective in a way that I was not expecting. It made me proud to be a John Glenn Fellow and it made me love my university that much more.
My interactions with people in DC through networking is one of the main reasons for my growth. While I was in DC, I would email people who I had no connection to and ask to get coffee with them to get coffee to learn about their career path. I was overwhelmed at how many strangers were willing to meet with me. They helped guide me throughout my time in DC and helped further my network by connecting me with others. This gave me insights into what I kind of career I want in the future and what kind of career I do not want to have.
My supervisor at the Department of Education was the most impactful aspect of my time in DC. She was absolutely incredible and taught me so much about education in general. She gave me the confidence to speak my mind when I met with Secretary of Education, Betsy Devos. She also sought out opportunities that she felt would further my career and my development as a young professional. She went above and beyond what is expected of a supervisor. I am so grateful to have had the privilege to work with her.
This program mattered to me career wise because I now have a strong network of people within the city I want to live in that I did not have before. These are people that I will keep in contact with until I graduate and will hopefully aide me in the future when I am starting my career. This program also gave me the excitement to pay it forward when I am established in my career. I cannot wait to help future students and especially OSU students.
This program also helped me academically because I now have real life experiences that I can apply to the classroom. It has given me a different perspective and allows me to look at my education differently. I find myself often looking at my classes and how I will apply this in the future rather than just looking to learn the information for an exam. I want to absorb as much as this information now, so that I can use what I have learned in the future. It gives me the revitalization of wanting to turn my passion into policy.
My STEP Signature Project was an internship. This internship took place from May-December of 2018 at Parker Hannifin Tube Fittings Division where I was a design engineer. I produced many 3-D models and drawings, developed and tested products, and refurbished a hydraulic machine.
Throughout my project, I grew a lot both as an engineer and a young professional. Over the seven months, I was able to grasp what it was truly like to work as an engineer in an office and laboratory, definitely developing my view of what a job entails past my previous assumptions. I also got a taste of what it was like to develop a product in a professional environment. Different from a school atmosphere, you may have more freedom in coming up with the solution, but it takes longer to develop and there are a lot more hoops to jump though. Last, the employee relationships were also different than expected, and I was presently surprised by what an office atmosphere looks and feels like.
Going into the experience, I didn’t exactly know what it would be like to be assigned tasks as an engineer or an intern. I somewhat assumed I would be given a task and then I would sit down at my desk and complete it, ready to move on to the next one. However, I had heard that a lot of people gain the experience of working on multiple projects at their co-ops; so I was ready for that to happen also, although I didn’t exactly know what that would look like. My first experience came at the morning stand-up meeting held each day, where everyone went around and said what they would be working on for the day. That’s when I first got a taste of what everyone else was working on. As the days went by, I was able to hear what projects people were working on, the progress they had made, and how they spent their time working on different tasks. Another pivotal time was when I was assigned my first task, then shortly after, another person came up and asked me to start another project. As both were to be on my plate at the same time, I finally had to face the task of working on two projects at once. I had to learn how to split time and learned that not everything can be done right away. Sometimes you must wait for people to email you back, answer questions, or finish their duties before you can continue working on a project. Multiple speed bumps can occur.
Next, one of the projects I was assigned was to create a tool that would install a round ring with small three-dimensional features on it onto a surface. I was given a couple guidelines, but other than that, I could go about solving the problem any way that was necessary. Pleasantly surprised, having such few restrictions was a slight shock to me but a nice change from the typical guidelines and rules produced at school when it comes to coming up with a solution. After coming up with an idea, I was able to prototype it within days because it was prototyped in-house on a 3-D printer. Next came the longer process of improving it. I was able to give the original design some simple tests, edit it, and create new ones. After some time, a final product was developed. Next, the final product had to undergo extensive testing. Luckily, the necessary tests could be done in-house. After passing this functional testing, the product was then sent to the plants. The plants could then begin field testing the product. Ideally, a mass-volume production location would also have to be found to produce the product commercially. What seemed like a simple project took several months and is still in the process of being field tested. Because of the professionality, the process took longer than it would have as an academic project. The solution found was able to be simple and highly effective, saving production costs. If there were more guidelines, the cost-effective solution might not have been found.
Lastly, I learned a lot about the office environment. It wasn’t exactly what I expected, but I soon became familiar with the division’s atmosphere of the “Fortune 250” company. The first things that stood out to me were the relationships between coworkers. The mysterious question of whether the professional engineering world, at least at this company, was really uptight or more relaxed and free-flowing was answered. It was a healthy mix, but definitely a good environment for co-ops. The show “The Office” sure started to become funnier and more relatable. The other thing that I found intriguing was the role of the engineering manager and how different engineers had different roles, despite having the same major. As my cubicle was placed in front of the engineering manager’s office, I was able to learn a lot about what she does. She was also very helpful and offered many learning experiences, such as sitting in on phone interviews, to the other co-op and myself. I also learned a lot about the roles and differences between design engineers, application engineers, test engineers, material scientists, and regional product sales (engineers by degree). It was impressive how all their roles fit together to get the job done.
In all, the STEP project will help me very much in my professional life. Work experience is crucial to landing a job after college and it has really helped develop me as an engineer. The projects I worked on and others I got to discuss with coworkers intrigued me and always got my wheels turning. As I move toward graduation, I know that the daily work and problems of an engineer are ones I want to tackle for a profession. I also found I really enjoyed using 3D-modeling and seeing what I was working on compared to the businessmen, I.T., and sales. Getting to learn the roles of application engineers and the engineering manager also opened my mind to new interests and career paths that I can pursue as I advance in my career.
I was the Continuous Improvement Co-op at Silfex located in Eaton, Ohio. I used the simulation software Arena to accurately model a bottleneck in the plant and develop solutions to increase production. To work for Silfex I had to live in Oxford, OH and that was what I used the STEP grant for.
One of the major things that I learned about myself was my resilience to be able to continue working past massive setbacks. When I started working on this model in the early fall, I felt like it should be not too difficult to complete once I had learned the software. I was picking up where a previous intern had left off on this specific model. Looking at it, I thought that it shouldn’t be too hard to finish since about 2/3 of it was done. It wasn’t until I had built the model completely that I realized that there were a ton of mistakes that couldn’t have been found until it was actually completed. It then took me a whole month to debug the model and get it to accurately model the actual process.
During this month, I spent many hours just watching the simulation run, trying to visually find the error. That was the only way to debug the errors I was finding, and it was torture. I would often come home from a day of work frustrated with the lack of progress that was happening. One day in particular, I stayed late and worked a 10 hour day where I only focused on my model and did nothing else. At the end of the day I had found one tiny fix to a small problem. I was fed up and almost defeated but the sun still rose the next day and I still went back into work and made some amazing progress. I was able to find my major mistakes and get on the track towards true success. It felt amazing that I was able to achieve such success after such a demoralizing day. It showed me the power that I have if I continue on and keep working hard.
The first person who lead to this recognition of ability and transformation was my boss, Jeff Kovacs. We had a weekly meeting set up where we would go over what I have done, what I’m stuck on, and expectations on where I should go next with the model. These sessions were very helpful with keeping me on track and setting me up well to complete the project to the best of my abilities. He also didn’t mind answering my questions or walking through difficulties with me even when we didn’t have a meeting set. This availability really allowed for me to do well but it also made me become more selective in my questions because, although he was usually willing to answer even my most simple questions, I realized it wasn’t fair for me to waste his time asking 5 questions a day. I had to gather up the questions that I thought of and either save them for the meeting or during a free time of his. This is a skill that is important because in a real job I probably won’t have a boss as generous with his time or as close in proximity to me so I will have to ask necessary questions when the time arrives.
Another relationship that helped me with my co-op was with two of my fellow co-ops. Anson and John were Chemical Engineering co-ops working on complex coding tasks for most of the semester so they also spent a lot of time at their desks too. When one of us would get stuck, we’d ask one another to come by and look at what is going on. Usually this process was just the helper listening while the person who was stuck would just explain what is going on. Usually the person who was stuck would then realize their mistake and then work through the problem. This system helped me work out many minor blocks and lead to many major breakthroughs. I now believe that this sort of collaboration can be very helpful in many aspects of work and life. Just saying something out loud to someone makes you explain it in a logical way that I think leads to breakthroughs.
The last thing that lead to my new-found resilience was my meetings that I had with my boss’s boss and the plant manager. I had 2 meetings with these people to explain the findings of my model and give recommendations on improvements. For my first meeting, I prepared a PowerPoint with a lot of in-depth data to show them that I knew what I was talking about. About midway through the meeting, I realized that I had way too much information in my presentation. This was more misleading than it was helpful. The presentation still went fine but it didn’t go as well as it could have. For my second presentation, I realized that a shorter presentation with more backup knowledge in my head would be more effective. This next presentation was much shorter and much clearer and gave time for questions and great conversation to happen. Being able to adapt my presentation style to my audience after my first attempt wasn’t a complete success is another example of the resilience and flexibility that I learned.
The first thing that this resilience does is confirm that my skills translate to work life, not only school. There have been times where I was resilient in school and was able to come out on top but I didn’t know if work would be different. School is a lot of memorizing and if you just study the 80 terms you need to memorize for a test enough you will eventually learn them. My project at Silfex was the opposite. There were millions, maybe even billions, of possible variable combinations that could have led to the correct solution, so I had to logically work my way there. It was a chance for me to see that I had the ability to adapt to a work situation and succeed. It gives me a lot of confidence going forward that I can deal with what is thrown at me.
My STEP signature project was a 7 month Project Engineering Co-op for DuPont at Circleville. The main functions of this project were to help execute capital projects throughout the plant site. Beyond my main duties, I was a part of numerous trainings and outside work functions to better understand my job and the people working with me.
There were a few assumptions of myself that changed throughout this project. The most glaring was my ability to take on and execute multiple tasks at the same time. This skill of multitasking had a high learning curve, where it took many months to cultivate the skill. However, by the end of the co-op, I was successfully able to carry out multiple tasks in a short period of time. Another skill I was about to improve on was my ability to network and interact with people in a professional environment.
The main event/ activity that helped me with my ability to take on multiple tasks was the day to day functions of the job. I first achieved this through observing other Project Engineers in how they carried out their projects. After a brief orientation, I was given the ability to take on smaller projects. This was a good step up, where I was able to hone in my skills, as well as learn more about all the intricate parts of the business. Finally, I was given more projects that was more up to speed to other project engineers.
As for my ability to interact in a professional environment, there were a few events that helped my improve my skills. First, I found the outside of work events to be very helpful. They are a great place to meet other co workers in an informal environment, where it is easier to learn more about them. I also found the multi day trainings to be a great place to meet people, as we had people from other parts of the site and other sites learn and cooperate in training activities.
I’d also like to add I had a lot of the fun I had during my co-op. Though a fair amount of it was work, I found that I had a great relationship with both my mentors and my other co-op. They made it enjoyable to go into work everyday, and I believe moving forward that finding a solid team of people in the workplace can really make a difference in your overall well being.
This co-op was essential to changing both my views, attitude, and skills in the professional world. I found that even just sitting and listening in meetings and interactions was important in my development. But the biggest change was doing real work, and the different expectations of work from school. I found a lot of my tasks to be a bit more ambiguous than in school, and I spent more time figuring out what needed to get addressed before I could move on into chipping away at the problem. This co-op also gave me tremendous insights into my interests. After a few months I decided that my interests were more geared to the ISE major than the Mechanical major, so I’m planning on switching from ME to ISE. Finally, I view this co-op as a great stepping stone that I can build off of towards my professional career.
Name: Andrew Gilmour
Type of Project: Internship
In the Fall of 2018, I completed my Step Signature Project through an internship with Speedway LLC. I lived off campus in Columbus and commuted to Enon, Ohio every day. During my time at Speedway, I worked in their civil engineering department along with their construction, mechanical and design departments. In order to gain more knowledge and experience, I worked alongside an experienced engineer who served as my mentor. He helped me develop important skills to become a better engineer.
Prior to my internship with Speedway LLC., I believed the best method to solving a problem or completing a project was by figuring it out on my own. I was too stubborn and independent to want to ask for help. I would often just sit at my desk trying to figure things out instead of just asking one of my co-workers for assistance. It took a short amount of time to realize that to be successful in the engineering field, you must do the opposite. Willingness to ask for help, communicating, and working as a team can be the difference between a good engineer and a great one.
Although I did want to figure things out on my own, I found myself spending too much time on tasks that could have been made simple by asking a question. This was a hard habit for me to break, but as I became closer with my co-workers, I felt more comfortable asking for help. This internship taught me how crucial team work is in the workplace, it took multiple peoples help to get projects finished in the time frames that were given to us. In order to stay on top of what needed done we had to efficiently communicate with one another. Without the cooperation between departments and engineers, it would take an absurd amount of time to accomplish the things we did.
The first week I was at my internship with Speedway LLC., I struggled a lot. I sat next to other interns and my mentors’ desk was far away from mine. Their processes and corporate culture were different to me. My mentor, Adam, spent some time showing me some of my daily tasks and what he wanted me to do. There was much information to take in, and I felt overwhelmed. When he would ask me to do one of these tasks, I would panic due to the fear of failure. In the midst of my panic I would get confused and not remember what I was supposed to do. After wasting much time trying to figure out what I was supposed to be doing, I would send Adam something and it would be far from what he wanted. He called me over and would go over the process again and show me what he wanted. He told me not to be afraid to ask questions and that even if he just showed me something, he would be willing to go over it again. The pressure of doing everything perfect on my first try had been taken off me and I began to feel more comfortable there. Adam would have a lot of work for me every day and I soon became familiar with what he needed from me and we constantly communicated all day. I started to feel confident in my work and could see that I was becoming a contributor to the teamwork. My mentor, Adam, told me constantly that he valued my help.
After a few weeks with Speedway, I began getting to know the other interns well. They worked for a different engineering team, but we had quite a few similar tasks. Another intern from Ohio State named Tanner, was in the Civil Engineering department. Tanner and I would often be given projects to work on together from our supervisor. Sometimes these would be very large projects and with only a few days to complete it. I learned to trust in Tanner and understand that working as a team was the only way for us to accomplish our tasks. I was glad that Speedway put me in a program where I was able to utilize coworkers and develop my team working skills. Tanner and I even became good friends and hang out and study together back at school.
Over the course of my internship, I was given the opportunity to go to Chicago with my supervisor and another coworker. We were going to visit consultants and look at Speedway sites that were in construction. It helped me gain a new perspective on how engineers work together. I was unaware of the amount of working parts that went into the development of a Speedway. Our engineers have so many projects all over the country that they would send design work out to consultants and our engineers would have to take that and work with the construction department in implementing the designs. Understanding how all these pieces work together took time, but after experiencing it, I have a great appreciation for the teamwork and work ethic of my coworkers. I am grateful to have gotten to experience this large-scale teamwork first hand and develop a respect and appreciation for it.
Learning to work with others and understanding the importance of communication is crucial to engineering. The skills I learned during my internship will not only help me in my academics, but also in the real world when I begin working a full-time job. I am glad that I got to experience how engineers work together and be a part of those processes. My time at Speedway molded me into a practical engineer and gave me the skills and tools to fully develop myself and become the best engineer possible. I enjoyed my time so much at Speedway that I could see myself returning there and working full-time or work in a similar environment. STEP funding is the reason that I was able to take this internship and is why I learned the importance of teamwork and communication. This has been an enormous step in my transformation into a professional engineer.
Name: Zach Davis
Type of Project: Co-op
1) Please provide a brief description of your STEP Signature Project.
For my step project I did two rotations of a co-op at ANSYS Inc., a software company based out of Canonsburg, PA. During my time at ANSYS I worked on two different teams working on a variety of products and software, putting to practice the computer science knowledge I have gained throughout my education so far.
2) What about your understanding of yourself, your assumptions, or your view of the world changed/transformed while completing your STEP Signature Project?
The goals and expectations I have for myself are two of the major things that changed during my STEP project. Since high school I have always had the loose plan in my head that I would pursue a computer science/programming career. However before this I have never had the chance to experience what it is truly like to have a career in this field. I enjoy working with computers and programming various things, but I have always had some small doubt in the back of my mind, wondering if this is truly what I would want to be doing for the majority of my life. My time at ANSYS as a software developer allowed me to obtain concrete experience and make better career decisions about my future.
3) What events, interactions, relationships, or activities during your STEP Signature Project led to the change/transformation that you discussed in #2, and how did those affect you?
The majority of events that modified my beliefs were just the day-to-day tasks that I worked on, and how they differed from the work I have done in the past. I experienced what it was like to work on larger scale projects as opposed to smaller homework assignments that I would work on for my college classes. Working as a part of a larger team was a new experience for me as well. The majority of the members were based in France, so I had to learn to account and plan for this difference. However I always had multiple other coworkers I could contact and use as a resource if I had a question or ran into trouble. A part of this environment is present as a college student, having various professors and students as resources, however the environment felt different.
Working in an office environment such as one at ANSYS is another aspect that changed my beliefs and gave me more insight into my future career. I felt a lot more comfortable using coworkers and teammates as resources when I ran into issues. And along with that I learned the value of networking and maintaining work relationships. Having a 40-hour work week was another new experience that differed greatly from being a student. It felt great to be able to go home after a day of work, and then simply be done. I wouldn’t really have to worry much about work, as I could do that when I got back in the next morning. As a student I am never done, even when I get home. In fact the majority of your work, and stress that comes along with that work, takes place while at home. All your assignments and studying are done outside of class. I know that typically salaried employees still have responsibilities outside of the 8-hour workday, but this was not what I experienced as an hourly co-op.
A valuable relationship I had from my co-op was with my second-rotation manager. I was on a smaller team, based in France. My manager had his desk adjacent to mine, and was the only team member that was at the same office location as me. As a result he was usually my go-to person when I had a question. The developers located in France would be done for the day around noon my time, so often they were not an option until the following day. Along with being available to answer questions daily, we also had weekly meetings. One main purpose of these meetings were just to give updates about the projects that I was working on. However we often discussed various aspects of professional development and careers, with topics similar to what I have wrote about in this reflection. I gained a lot of valuable knowledge and direction from these meetings, helping me think about what specialization within computer science I want to focus on, and the decision to get more internship/co-op experience at a different company before I graduate.
4) Why is this change/transformation significant or valuable for your life?
Pretty soon I will be graduating from college, and hopefully starting my career shortly afterwards. I will need to decide on which field within computer science I want to work in, and what company I will start my career with. This is a big decision that will greatly affect my adult life, and I want to make sure I do not make any mistakes. As discussed before, I did not have any concrete experience on what it is like to work with computer science. However, after my first software development co-op I now have a baseline for what to expect in the future. I now know for sure that I enjoy programming professionally, now the choice is what specialization I want to go into. And after this upcoming summer’s internship, I will have a second point of reference to further refine my preferences and goals. All of these factors will set me up for success after I graduate.
- Please provide a brief description of your STEP Signature Project.
I completed an internship in the actuarial department of Motorists Insurance during the fall of 2018 while being a full-time student at OSU. I mainly assisted with annual rate filings and some overhauling of current excel sheets to make them more efficient. I am a senior at OSU planning to enter the actuarial field.
- What about your understanding of yourself, your assumptions, or your view of the world changed/transformed while completing your STEP Signature Project?
I took on this project for a variety of reasons. First, I could work part-time while going to school full-time, which is something I had never done before. I learned from this how hard it really is to work for 15 hours/week while studying. I once used to wish I had a part-time job during the school year to have extra cash on me but after this internship, I learned I valued my free time much more than some extra cash. I will greatly enjoy this last semester due to not working.
Second, am I interested in the P&C (car and home insurance) area. I knew for sure that I wanted to become an actuary but didn’t know which field (Life/health/P&C) that I wanted to go into. From this internship, I realized that P&C wasn’t as interesting as I first thought it was.
Lastly, I learned how it is like to work for a small company. My summer internship at Erie Insurance was at a mid-sized company but Motorists Insurance was much smaller and I wanted to experience that. At first, I thought I would like working at a smaller company because of the variety of tasks that I would do. However, throughout my time there, I realized that I missed the larger group of people I had at a larger company. Therefore, this internship really helped me decide to accept a full-time position at a large health insurer, Cigna.
- 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?
So first, my view on part-time work during the school year. Before this, I always envied those who got a part-time job in their field of interest that paid a lot more than a regular campus job. And the first few weeks were fine since classes didn’t have any exams. However, once exams started rolling by, it was incredibly hard to work, go to class and study all while commuting from home. There were some nights I got very little sleep and specifically, I had a hard time studying with friends or attending review sessions because of the hours I worked. Therefore, I am happy to end this part-time job so I can relax in my last semester before school ends.
Second, the P&C field. This past summer, I interned at Erie in their predictive modeling department (which really isn’t a traditional actuarial position) and liked it a lot. However, I knew if I ever got hired full-time somewhere, it would be more in a traditional actuarial position so this internship in a traditional role would help me decide is P&C was for me. Some things I didn’t expect going in was how much excel was used. At Erie, I primarily used SAS and Python. And I wasn’t a big fan of Excel given how slow it is to do anything with large datasets. Second, there was a lot of repetition. When I helped with the year-end rates, I was doing the same process for every state and line of business, which got boring real quick. Therefore, I decided that a traditional actuarial role in the P&C wasn’t for me.
Lastly, I was deciding if I wanted to work at a big or small company. Erie gave me the experience of a mid-sized company and I was looking forward to my experience at Motorists. Initially going in, I thought I would enjoy working in a smaller company due to the larger variety of tasks. This was mostly true and I did get a broad view of pricing in general. I also liked how I had a closer connection with my boss and my boss’s boss.
However, there were a few drawbacks at a smaller company. First, smaller cafeteria. Second, not many people my age to talk with. Third, and most importantly, Motorists was incredibly behind on adapting the latest data techniques to help price their insurance. This was evident to see coming from Erie Insurance. This is a large reason why I went with a larger employer. To be able to use better more recent data analysis techniques.
- Why is this change/transformation significant or valuable for your life?
This is incredibly valuable because it helped me decide which job offer to take. I actually got two job offers. One from a mid-size P&C department and one from a very large health insurer. From this internship experience, I realized that traditional P&C was not a good fit for me so decided to go with the large health insurer. Since once you choose a discipline (health, life or P&C) there is basically no switching, this internship has had a huge impact on my future career track for potentially the rest of my working life. So although the internship was different than I had anticipated, it provided to be an incredibly valuable experience.