My Experience at A-Brite Plating Company

For my STEP project I worked as a chemical engineering intern for a company called A-Brite Plating that is located in Cleveland, Ohio. The company plates metal onto plastics for numerous customers. A step-by-step process photo is shown below (note each new piece represents one more step in the process and the last three pieces are all different finishes). I created a process 101 presentation for the company while also keeping track of orders and inventory for their Honda 2020 CRV program.

I feel I have a more in-depth view and appreciation for manufacturing. I never realized how many different companies there are in the world but working at a place that chrome plates plastic put that in perspective. We, among other parts, chromed five parts for the Honda CRV, and knowing that we only do a portion of this car’s chrome nationwide made me think of how much goes into a single car. There are many more man hours that go into creating one vehicle than I knew of beforehand. Between us, steel workers, plastic injection companies, etc. I am surprised car prices are so low.

Working as an engineer for the first time, even at the lowest level, brought new light to my eyes as well. There will never be a shortage of problems to solve, especially in the manufacturing industry. If there is a slow day, you could be working on improving the process, but there are almost never any of those days.

I also realized that manufacturing is a tough business to work in. Working on a project that sent parts to Honda showed me that deadlines are set, and there is no partial credit for your late work. I found myself working longer than 8 hours a day a few times to meet a customers requirement.

I have also gained an appreciation for the people working on the floor at a manufacturing plant. Not all of them want to be where they are, in fact I hadn’t heard one person all summer say they loved their job. It is a tough thing to stomach that people are not doing something that they dreamed of doing. Lots of people are working for their families. It is something that I did not notice a lot growing up in a small farm town, and it is something that you do not normally see while attending school at such a large campus.

My interactions with the floor workers and with our janitor staff brought my second realization to fruition. I have gained a lot of respect for these day in and day out grinders. I learned that two of the men on first shift work a second job on the weekends. Both guys were noted as hard working and reliable by their manager. They were also very nice to me and were always willing to help me with a small project.

All in all, I now know that school is just a steppingstone. What I am going to see and learn once I have a full-time job will not exactly resemble my coursework. There is too much to cover in school to match the expansive manufacturing industry. Also, the personal relationships I develop on the job cannot be taught in school. Knowing this will reshape how I look at each job I apply for. I will be looking beyond what the title and description are because I know the more important aspects are not captured by these things. I will want to look into who I will be working with and attempt to figure out why I would want to spend hours of my time with them trying to fulfill a companies goals.

STEP reflection- Equitas Health

Over this past summer, I was an intern at the Equitas HIV/STI Hotline. This primarily consisted of answer phone calls, emails, and chats with questions about sexual health. However, I also participated in sending out condom packs, at-home HIV testing kits, making buttons, and generally assisting around the office.

Throughout the course of the project, my understanding of myself changed in that I feel more confident in explaining different, sometimes taboo, concepts to others. I had known that I was comfortable discussing intimate topics with my friends, but I didn’t know I was capable of doing it with strangers. This experience had made me more confident with myself in general and I feel able to speak up for different issues now that I’ve done this internship.

My view of the world changed in that I didn’t realize how many people needed accurate sex education. I knew that sex education in schools was majorly lacking, but I didn’t realize to what extent. Many people don’t know the basics in terms of STIs and incurable diseases. The lack of knowledge in the questions I was asked showed me how much work still needs to be done in terms of education.

I got questions ranging from “Can my cat give my chlamydia?” to “Can I get HIV from masturbating?” Questions like these reminded me of how uneducated many people are in terms of sexual education. I was excited throughout the duration of this internship to give people accurate information and to alleviate some of the stress around transmission. Many people were relieved to hear they were not at risk of HIV as they had previously thought based on incorrect information. I went home feeling accomplished every day that I assisted someone in need.

Another aspect of my STEP experience that helped transform me into a more confident person was the relationships I formed with the other interns and volunteers. These interactions helped me to be more confident in what I have to say and voicing my opinions on different topics. Everyone who volunteers there has a different personality, but were all there with the same goal which helps in forming bonds. I learned as much from the people I worked with as I did through different presentations and lectures.

A final aspect of my STEP project that helped in transforming my character and expanding my depth of experience was leading condom packing parties every other week. Every other Tuesday, a volunteer group comes into Equitas to help pack condoms as we send out about 1,000 orders a week. Before I started this internship, I hated leading things as I thought I wasn’t qualified and was too young for anyone to take me seriously. While I did have some complications with my confidence in the beginning, after a few weeks I became comfortable in my position and began to effectively lead. As the weeks went on, I could tell that many of the regulars started to have more respect for me and took what I said more seriously.

These changes are significant in many different aspects of my life. In terms of professional goals, I feel more able to pursue different opportunities as I’m better able to articulate myself. Instead of awkwardly talking to different managers and supervisors, I can now voice what I can bring to the company and how my skills will be useful to their operation. This may open doors that were previously unavailable to me.

Along with helping my professional goals, my STEP experience can help in my academic career as it very directly relates to my major. Being a public health major, the topics of HIV and STIs come up frequently. It’s beneficial to have a strong background knowledge of the subject and be able to contribute to class discussions in a meaningful way. This has already come into play on a few different occasions, but specifically when I was in a class and the topics of HIV and STIs were brought up. One of the students was asking the professor question s that they didn’t know the answer to, such as “Why don’t people get tested for herpes?”. The professor wasn’t sure of the answer, so I was able to say that it’s because of its high prevalence and lack of harm to anyone carrying the virus. Different opportunities such as this have made being a public health major even more meaningful.

 

My Summer In Chicago

Sam Buckley

STEP Reflection

 

  1. Please provide a brief description of your STEP Signature Project. Write two or three sentences describing the main activities your STEP Signature Project entailed.

My STEP signature project was an internship with Regions Financial Corporation in Chicago, Illinois.  I was a member of the Income Property Finance division, in which I would financially underwrite developers and investors for our RM’s and Associates to then craft construction and bridge loans.

  1. What about your understanding of yourself, your assumptions, or your view of the world changed/transformed while completing your STEP Signature Project? Write one or two paragraphs to describe the change or transformation that took place.

This project had arguably the biggest impact on me as both as a person and a professional in my time at Oho State for a multitude of reasons.  First, as a person, I have lived my entire in Columbus, Ohio, and the most amount of consecutive days I’ve spent away from the city was previously 14 days.  All of a sudden, I had to call the 3rdbiggest city in the country home for over 2 months, while also having to excel as a summer analyst with hopes of being hired fulltime after the internship. Although there were certain difficulties associated with moving to a big city, I found myself able to fully immerse myself in the idea of being a Chicagoan and getting to know my way around the city.  Being in a metropolis like Chicago, I also got very comfortable with interacting with people of all different backgrounds.  No matter the income level, race, sexual orientation or what have you, Chicago has it all covered.

  1. What events, interactions, relationships, or activities during your STEP Signature Project led to the change/transformation that you discussed in #2, and how did those affect you? Write three or four paragraphs describing the key aspects of your experiences completing your STEP Signature Project that led to this change/transformation.

Straight off the plane when I moved to Chicago in May, I was tasked with all of my belongings to the train stop, finding my exit stop, navigating the busy streets, and moving my stuff into a new apartment right across the street from the world famous Grant Park.  To say the least, that was an experience I’ve never come close to being a part of, aside from moving into college as a freshmen. From there, it was an never ending adventure of meeting new people, both in the work setting and outside of the office.

One of the first events that led to a significant transformation was my internship training for a week in Charlotte, North Carolina.  Less than a full week into my move to Chicago, I hopped on another plane and became fully immersed in learning about Regions.  I was thrown in with the other 11 Real Estate Interns from 7 different offices nationwide, and the following day met the 30 others from the rest of the corporate bank.  I was able to meet fellow college students from all walks of life, bonding over this new adventure and experience we were all going through.  It changed my perspective on different parts of the country, and gave me a new appreciation for what an internship program can do for someone. I came out of training with plenty of new connections, as well as friends for the rest of my career.

Another aspect of my STEP project that had a huge impact on me was simply working everyday in the Chicago office. For being a large bank, I was thankful to have a smaller group in Chicago of only 18 people, so I was able to create incredible relationships fairly easy, while also learning from professionals with years (sometimes decades) of experience.  We would have a team lunch every Friday in which we’d cross the river and I’d be able to pick the brains of each and every member of the team, while they got to know me better as well.  Although the technical side of the job was important to learn quickly, I truly believe the relationships I made in the office are something that I’ll treasure forever, and those same relationships come into play when making a decision later in the project.

  1. Why is this change/transformation significant or valuable for your life? Write one or two paragraphs discussing why this change or development matters and/or relates to your academic, personal, and/or professional goals and future plans.

This STEP project changed my life in more ways than I could’ve ever imagined.  Originally, I viewed my STEP project as a way to get out of Ohio for a summer and hopefully make some money working at a reputable company.  Now of course that all played out, but two days before I was scheduled to fly back home to Columbus, I received a call from my boss down at our corporate headquarters.  She said I showed a lot traits throughout the summer that they were very excited about, and offered me a full time job in the Strategy vertical of the department I was working in, something very rare for interns.  Due to my love of the city, and the incredible people at Regions, both in Chicago and across the country, it wasn’t a hard decision to accept.

Without STEP, the internship wouldn’t have been possible, and therefore I wouldn’t have been afforded this amazing opportunity.  Columbus will always be home, but thanks to STEP, I’ll be able to call myself a resident of Chicago for the foreseeable future, which has always been a dream of mine.

Washington Academic Internship Program Reflection

For my STEP Signature Project I participated in the Glenn College’s Washington Academic Internship Program. As part of this program I had the opportunity to live, work, and learn in Washington D.C. for 12 weeks over the summer. I interned for the federal relations firm Alignment Government Strategies which represents many central Ohio businesses and non-profits in DC. I completed my senior capstone policy research paper as part of 12 credit hours of Public Affairs classes. Additionally, we were able to live just a 5 minute walk from the Capitol Building, and took weekly tours to sites in the city such as the White House, Capitol Building, and State Department.

This opportunity helped me to truly grow as a professional. I was placed in a fast-paced and intense environment that forced me to learn and grow every day. I was presented with the opportunity to learn about new policy areas that have helped give me clarity as to what I would like to pursue in my future career. I was able to get a clear vision of what I would like my future to hold, and I feel fairly certain that I would like to end up back in DC at some point in my career. My most transformational experiences were interacting with career professionals in a working environment. I was able to learn from many great mentors who helped guide me through the craziness of Washington and give me advice to advance my career. I feel confident that following graduation I would like to work on a 2020 Democratic Presidential campaign and then attend law school soon after. I would like to leverage a winning campaign to gain a job in the Administration or on Capitol Hill for 1-3 years, but I would be more than happy to go to law school soon after a campaign ends.

Following my experience in Washington this summer, I feel like a true young professional. My experience was incredibly impactful and it translated into a year-long fellowship with the Columbus Partnership–a client of my firm this summer–which I am currently working this school year. I have seen my professional skills increase drastically and they are currently paying off in both my academic life and my current position with the Columbus Partnership. I am tremendously grateful to STEP and the Glenn College for making this incredible growing experience possible.

Embedded in the post are two photos of me in DC. The first is at an event my internship had at the White House Eisenhower Executive Office Building, and the second is outside of the United States Capitol Building following a meeting with an OSU alum this summer.

Northrop Grumman Internship Reflection

This summer, I interned for Northrop Grumman in Baltimore, Maryland. I worked in an antenna range and spent most of my time writing software supporting the automation of antenna ranges.

Coming into this internship I had virtually no interest in working for a defense contractor, but my time at Northrop Grumman changed that. I had always wanted to work in the automotive engineering field and never imagined that I would feel fulfilled working on military systems. I had dreamed of designing electric or hybrid powertrains; most other things sounded lackluster to me. Working on software development in an antenna range at Northrop Grumman was more challenging and enjoyable than I had expected by a wide margin. I also got to experience living in Baltimore for three months, which helped me decide where I want to live once I graduate.

I had always thought that I would take the highest paying job I was offered after my graduation, but living in Baltimore made me rethink this philosophy. While I thoroughly enjoyed working for Northrop Grumman, I really did not like living in Baltimore. After spending a summer on the east coast, I am fairly certain that I do not want to end up living and working anywhere along the Atlantic Ocean (at least north of Virginia). Now, I only plan on pursuing jobs either in Columbus or in a western state.

Working in an antenna range was my first exposure to working with radio-frequency systems. During my first week I was told that production would have an antenna for us to test within two weeks, which meant that I would get hands on experience working on antenna testing. Unfortunately, the antenna never came. Even though we never got an antenna to test during my time in the range, I still learned the ins and outs of how antenna test data is gathered. While waiting for an antenna to test, the senior engineer in the range had me help develop software to automate both the gathering and processing of antenna data.

My first few weeks were spent getting familiar with the automation project. I only worked with two other people in the range, a recent OSU graduate and a senior engineer; they both helped make my transition onto the project easy. The software was written in C# which I had never worked with before, but the senior engineer had written most of the libraries used in the project so getting help was always fast and easy. I was tasked with implementing a couple of different data processing tools and improving the functionality of one of the user interfaces. I thoroughly enjoyed working on software and I would like to keep working on software, whether in my career or just in my free time.

Living in Baltimore was the least enjoyable part of my summer. Baltimore is not a terrible city, but it is certainly not for me. I found the city planning to be frustrating, the local government to be inept, and the weather to be too wet. I did still have fun in Baltimore, but I realized that I do not want to move there after my graduation.

Coincidentally, I knew the OSU graduate that I worked with from his time in college, so he showed me around the city and invited me to activities that he and his friends participated in. I played volleyball almost every Saturday and Sunday with my coworker and new friends, as well as engaged in the occasional footgolf game or restaurant trip. Being able to experience what life is going to be like after graduation for a summer really helped ease some anxiety I felt about life after graduation.

Overall, the summer I spent in Baltimore was invaluable to me in both a personal and professional sense. I was able to experience a new city and rule out moving there after school, which saves me time, money, and stress since I now know that I would not enjoy taking a position in Baltimore. I also got to make many new friends through my internship whom I still talk to regularly. Actually working with software was an eye-opener for me, as I didn’t consider working in software at all coming into this summer but would now happily take a job related to software development. I also gained a fair amount of knowledge on antenna theory (which has already helped me in some of my classes this semester) and several good professional connections within Northrop Grumman. While I am not going to pursue a position at the Baltimore location of Northrop Grumman, I may try to work at the Beavercreek, Ohio or Denver, Colorado locations after graduation. Without STEP, I wouldn’t have been able to gain this unique set of experiences and relationships that are indispensable to my development both socially and professionally as I prepare for the workforce.

My Coworker John and I at a Polish Festival in downtown Baltimore (Northrop Grumman does not allow pictures to be taken on company property)

Step Post-Project Reflection

STEP Post-Project Reflection

Internship at The Calvetta Brothers Floor Show

Maria Neville

 

My STEP signature project was at the Calvetta Brothers Floor Show in Bedford, Ohio. I was hired as a marketing intern, and worked with the Floor Show’s marketing team, on building partnerships with the Cleveland APL, as well as Howard Hanna. I also helped with more day to day tasks such as meeting with contractors in order to repair their new warehouse, assisting on film days for commercials, and meeting with their advertising company in order to get projects done.

This was one of the first times where I was left with a great deal of responsibility, between handling big purchases and working with outside companies, I felt very responsible. I was in charge of finding the right contractor, or company to install and repair new windows, doors, and paint in the new warehouse, and in such a large warehouse, these were upwards of 50,000-100,000 dollar jobs. I also realized that the business world doesn’t have to be so scary—when working with other companies, I got to know people on a personal level that allowed for easy and stress free communication between myself and these other companies. I went in to this experience very nervous about what sort of situations I may be placed in, and by just trusting myself and my abilities, it allowed for the whole experience to be more enjoyable. Having confidence in your abilities makes going in to work every day a much more pleasant experience.

One of the events that occurred was the Floor Show purchased an old, run down warehouse that needed a lot of repairs in order to be functional. A task that I was assigned, that was really nerve racking for me at first, was to contact contractors, painters, janitors and so on to help fix up the warehouse. I would meet with multiple contractors a day sometimes, giving them tours of the warehouse, having them price out estimates for me, checking their review and making sure they’re reliable, and at the end of it all, I may have spent upwards of 200,000 dollars, between new paint all over. New windows, new garage doors and man doors, refinishing of the cement floors and parking lot, tearing down walls etc. Austin, my supervisor and owner of the Floor show, trusted me to make these decisions and to find the best deal and best guy for the job. I have never been trusted with so much financial responsibility and after seeing the results of the warehouse, and how happy Austin was with the job, I finally learned to trust my abilities when it comes to making important decisions.

Another event I took place in was establishing a partnership with many different Howard Hanna offices.  I reached out to the managers of these offices, and set up times and slots for Floor Show sales people to come and speak at these meetings, getting coffee and donuts for them to bring to these meetings, and in the end establishing a partnership, where we mention them for business, and they mention us, when the situation applies. This was something that was really important to Austin that he wanted me to do this summer, so when I finally saw it all work out and work out better than intended (originally we were just mentioning it to them at the meetings, but they reached out and asked if we’d be willing to partner up), and that he was very appreciate of me, It showed that I really could do a lot as long as I remained professional, and actually saw myself as an adult who is capable of working in the real world!

Another thing I was responsible for was creating a customer experience survey. The Calvetta’s value their reputation and quality of work very highly, which is why Austin gave me this task this summer. They always put emphasis on how they treat their customers, and tell their employees the level of respect they should give people when going in their homes, and they always drill in to everyone how important that is, but they realized they hadn’t actually been following up with customers, unless they had a reason to (complaint of some sort, price issues). So I created a survey that I sent to all customers in the past 2 years, and that was supposed to go to everyone 1 month after their project was completed. I got so many responses, some complaining or praising certain installers, some about certain sales people, some about the product in general. The results were very helpful and the response rate was also high, so with my results I put together a report of my survey, and Austin was so appreciative and shocked sometimes at the findings, and was able to use the info from my survey to make some really helpful changes at the Floor Show. This allowed me to really see my full ability and to feel useful. I was able to see the difference I made first hand at a company, and to see my work so appreciated was a great feeling.

My professional goals are to work in marketing and the business world. I would love to work for a big company, in a big city, doing hard, creative work. In order to do that, I can’t let my doubts in myself hold me back, or else I probably won’t be able to achieve my goals. This summer at my internship showed me my true potential, and gave me the confidence to trust my own work and to not nit-pick every little detail as much. I think I now have the confidence to push myself towards my professional goals, while also probably helping my personal and everyday life too. I feel like this comes with becoming a self-sufficient adult. You can’t be worried about everything and doubt everything in work and life, otherwise you won’t be able to accomplish anything.

Behind the scenes at a commercial!

Photo I took for a blog post

My Step Project: Internship at WOSU

My STEP project this summer entailed an internship at WOSU in Columbus, Ohio from May to August. I worked on daily production of the show, as well as producing content of my own for the show.

My understanding of myself changed greatly through the course of this experience. I have never really had to apply myself to do well when it came to school, I was always naturally smart and skated by easily. This lax approach to work changed immediately once I was the only person in charge of certain tasks at my internship. It was difficult for me to make that change and have people relying on me every day to get things done, especially when I felt I didn’t know exactly what was being asked of me. I am not a person of routine or consistency, but this internship challenged me to be what I am not on a daily basis.

While I am still unsure what kind of authoritative approach motivates me to do my best work, I do know that if I am in an environment I find enjoyable, I want to get my work done. However, I am unsure if independent work is the best fit for me. Additionally, my assumptions of how much I can take post-graduation have changed drastically. I know many people work several jobs to pay rent and get by, however, I found I need to have a good work-life balance in order to stay motivated and focused.

The experience that challenged my assumptions of how hard I can work myself was due to working at a bar till 4 a.m. several nights a week, as well as every weekend, and then going to my internship at 9 a.m. This burning-the-candle-at-both-ends proved to only hurt my performance at my internship. As for the kind of work environment I would like to work in, I found myself enjoying my job outside of my internship much more. News can be very stressful, with crazy deadlines that make everyone in the work place high strung. But what I found is that you either live for the stress or let it eat you alive. Many news production teams are understaffed, due to the changing media landscape that has caused news budgets to take a hit, which often leads to stressful situations that could be improved with more professional help. I like the stress of news but fear I would burn out in the industry quickly.

I appreciate how my bosses treated the internship as a learning experience and wanted the interns to get as much out of it as possible. We were pushed to pitch story ideas every week for the show and would have a discussion as to how to shape the story so it could work for the show or why that story wouldn’t work for the show. I really feel like I learned a lot about news and what it takes to run a show. In that sense, a collaborative and thoughtful work place sounds the most ideal for me. While I am self-motivated it is to a point, I still need that authoritative push to stay on track and get things done. It may be because I am new to the field and feel like my work isn’t as good or appreciated, therefore, I need that reassurance that my work makes a difference. Or it may be that I work better in groups and need that sense of teamwork to keep me on track. This is something I have made note of to look for in my future work.

I cannot say that my daily tasks and daily routine have made a lasting impact into who I am as a worker. I can say that those tasks made me realize I like learning how to do things and do them well for a company. However, I need to be challenged. Once I feel I’ve mastered a task, I need to move on to something else, otherwise I get bored and start to resent the work I have to get done. The daily tasks at my internship started to feel a bit like Groundhog Day, for lack of a better analogy. I am a bit concerned that there is no job out there that I would not get bored of, but I am also willing to admit that many internships aren’t exactly challenging work due to the limited time frame companies get to train you and that they aren’t always a true reflection of the work field.

The reporters that worked for WOSU were very helpful in giving insight into what the field is like. I got to talk with a reporter about her former experience working for TV news which I found very enlightening and useful. She explained it was a lot like the radio show in that it is high strung and taxing on the mind, body, and soul. I went into journalism because I am a naturally curious person and love talking to people, but I have found that it can be very lonely as you’re only talking to people that are new to you for a short amount of time until you’re forced to move on and do the next story. It feels impersonal, though it is a very personal line of work. News is in my blood and is very much a part of my identity, but it isn’t matching well with the rest of my identity. I am hoping that I can find a way to combine who I am with news in a better way so I don’t feel like my work is a never-ending broken thread of brief, forgotten connections.

This change is significant because it has challenged everything I thought I knew I liked and wanted in this field. Going forward academically, I will try to see my work as a challenge, which won’t be difficult when it comes to my capstone project. I will try to connect with as many people as possible before I graduate to see what kind of path options are available for me in journalism and outside of journalism. I feel that I have something to add to a company and that I can excel well wherever, but it won’t be long lasting unless I feel it is the right fit for me and the company. I want to make sure I don’t settle for just any job because of the societal pressure to graduate and have one. I don’t want to be jobless but I also don’t want to burn bridges at a job I don’t enjoy because I thought I should take the job to have one. I don’t have a concrete plan right now but the only way to create a plan is to do research and find out what is out there so I can become inspired and have a goal of what I want to do once I graduate. This isn’t the best timing to realize I don’t like the majority of what I know major has to offer me, but I am always in the pursuit of happiness and am sure that whatever I end up doing I will be or will make sure I am happy.

 

Here’s a picture of my fellow intern, Joe Matts, at the Ohio State Fair where we did a live broadcast of our show for the public.

My Step Signature Project: Internship with Amazon Web Services

 My STEP Signature Project was a 12-week long internship with Amazon Web Services based at the Amazon headquarters in Seattle, Washington. During this tenure, I was a Product Marketing Manager intern and was tasked with managing the overall execution of two digital marketing campaigns. This included defining the channel strategy recommendations, key performance metrics, and corresponding with both product marketing managers and external agencies to ensure the campaign was on track to launch by the set date.

This internship served as a trial run for what is to come post-graduation. This was the first time I was in a new city, living with a roommate, and going to work every day from 8-5. In 12 weeks, I began to shift from this college-student with little experience operating in the real world, to a fully-functioning adult. I developed an internship budget spreadsheet in Excel to help manage my finances during the summer and also make sure I was on track to hitting my savings goals. This required me to allot a certain amount of money to food each week and entertainment/ fun activities. I also developed a strict morning routine to maximize my time each week.

Professionally, my project this summer stretched me helped me unleash all of my potential. As an intern, I was given so much responsibility and was in charge of million-dollar campaigns, and although I doubted myself at times, I was able to rise to the occasion and successfully complete my projects and deliver results.

My roommate for the summer was a great support system for me. We leaned on each other for work and play and held each other accountable. She was aware that I was trying to meet a certain saving goal, and always warned me of my goals when we were eating out to make sure that I was making smart decisions. We also explored the city together. We both are from Ohio and have never spent time in the Pacific Northwest–having her by my side made it easier to venture out in the city and make friends.

My manager played a pivotal role in my professional development over the summer. I learned that impostor syndrome is a real feeling, and while I was trying to get ahead of the learning curve, I often felt like I didn’t belong at Amazon–just because I felt like I wasn’t smart enough. We had weekly 1:1s to discuss my progress, challenges, and thoughts about my experience thus far. Not only was my manager trying to make sure I was able to deliver results, but he took the time to make sure I was networking within the organization and also outside and onto the retail side. He cared about my development and not just about my main project deliverables.

My mentor for the summer was a Sr. Digital Marketing Manager on the Artificial Intelligence team. We met weekly for an hour to discuss my internship experience thus far. She was someone I could be vulnerable with and also my go-to resource for any obstacles that I need help overcoming with my project. When I expressed to her that I wasn’t super confident in the beginning, she reassured me and gave me tips on how to overcome this fear and make sure I excel in my internship. 

This project was pivotal to my overall personal and professional development. I never had a major internship at a large company, and so I needed to learn how to navigate myself in a professional setting and also prove to myself that I am a natural-born marketer and can do anything I put my mind to. This Step Signature Project allowed me to transform into the person I’ve always imagined myself to be.

STEP Summer Experience – iGEM Competition

This STEP Signature Project was a research internship with the iGEM Foundation, where I conducted research with a team with the end goal of presenting at the iGEM Conference in Boston. Our research primarily focused on the creation of a novel microbe that could colonize corn plants while also presenting the ability to fix nitrogen, which would confer greater growth benefits. In addition, we characterized previous iGEM biological parts and presented novel data regarding these systems.

While completing the STEP Signature Project, I grew to understand what assuming command in a research setting involved. In my previous research experiences, I was supervised and directed by an advisor, generally a Post-doc or PhD. While there were advisors in this lab setting, much of my decision-making and experimentation was independently learned and conducted. In these situations, the amount of information you can retain and utilize increases drastically because you are responsible for knowing so much more. I was able to direct a team of undergraduates who didn’t possess the same expertise in certain fields, and together we worked efficiently throughout the cloning processes. In addition, I learned organization and book-keeping practices, and the importance of those. I used Benchling, Google Drive, and other softwares to easily and effectively access and log information. This was done in a manner that allowed ease of reading several weeks after being written down.

I began viewing the world and the scientific community as a whole as much smaller than I had previously realized. Throughout the competition season, we interacted with labs across the Midwest, and got in contact with labs and scientists in Europe and around the world. Emailing them and requesting strains or reagents really demonstrated how collaborative science can be, and how fruitful developing these partnerships can be for the advancement of science. In addition, my assumptions of the amount of work being done in renewables and fertilizer changed. I previously assumed that there was mass stagnation with regards to changing the fertilizer problem and its contribution to algal blooms, but observing companies like Pivot Bio and 3Bar Biologics really encouraged me to change my views and understand that science is a slow but steady process.

Several experiences contributed to these sets of changes. To start off, reaching out to 3Bar Biologics and discussing the way their company was handling the problem of excess nitrogen and phosphates was a truly eye-opening sight for us. Often, in the research lab setting, scientists are so concerned with the execution of their experiments and the immediate successes that they lose sight of the application of their discoveries. This is expected, given that the field is so concerned with publishing papers and establishing reputation. However, on our trip to 3Bar, we saw the integration of science and industry. Several scientists were working in a large greenhouse-like space, and the shelves were lined with thin bags of liquid media topped with a button mechanism. The chief scientist explained that organisms that contributed nutrients were stored in the button, and at the push of a button would be dispensed into the liquid medium. Upon hitting the medium, these microbes devour the media and divide. Farmers would then apply these bags to their fertilizer while going around their fields, and easily administer these beneficial microbes. By using the bag and the lining, along with the innovative button design, 3Bar had found a way to eliminate many of the costs required when considering microbial growth while also keeping it simple for the farmer. 3Bar also helped us network and find more partnerships, which has been quite helpful throughout this process. Overall, this interaction convinced me of the real-life merit of this work, and the possibility of a jump from science in the lab to industry application.

In addition to this experience, another pivotal experience was centered around the plan formulation for the cloning steps. The nitrogenase protein is the enzyme that allows for nitrogen to be fixed from the air and turned into a bioavailable form. In order to give another bacteria this protein, we would need to clone the genes for this protein into that bacteria. This was rather difficult due to the size of the insert. In order to bypass this, we needed to consider a number of possibilities for incorporating the genes into the bacteria. We settled on using PCR, or polymerase chain reaction, to amplify segments of the chromosomal DNA of R. palustris, and take those nitrogenase gene segments and stitch them together using Gibson Assembly. After doing this, we would clone the product into E. coli and mate into our final organism, Pseudomonas protegens Pf-5. The planning for this procedure took quite a bit of brainstorming and fiddling, but ultimately we were able to independently devise these methods in order to achieve the end goal. This problem-solving and processing was critical in tackling the problem and understanding the way independent scientists function and work in the field.

Finally, the interactions with other labs during this brain-storming process helped teach me about the interconnectedness of the scientific community. One of the methods we attempted to use to clone our construct into our recipient strain involved a replicative transposon mcchanism that is quite finnicky but extraordinarily simple. This method would involve procuring the plasmid for the transfer from a French scientist, Frederique van Gijsegem. Ultimately, while we were able to reach out, shipping and customs prevented this from being sent properly. In addition, we reached out to Newcastle’s iGEM team to attempt to procure some of their strains, and also interacted with teams and groups from Spain. These collaborations helped formulate our plans and our methodologies. Even within the United States, professors at University of Wisconsin-Madison and other schools were critical in helping us decide what recipient strains we could and couldn’t use, and what our limitations were. While this experience helped me recognize how widespread and helpful the community is, it also reinforced the difficulty in standardizing science and communicating across disciplines.

This change is significant for my life because I plan on pursuing scientific research even as a medical professional. The idea of working independently, formulating a hypothesis and devising experiments is something that can be applied to any discipline, including medicine itself. In addition, the organizational skills and tools that I gathered can prove vital in aspects of my personal organization, along with my work later on in the scientific field. Learning to present at a conference, keep adequate logs, deal with team members, and work across disciplines is a skillset I can apply anywhere I go. Personally, I learned that I was capable of devising and planning, while also leading a team and demonstrating those abilities when times got stressful. I also learned how to keep myself and others accountable, and to stay resilient even when our methods seemed to fail.

In the future, my work in scientific research hopes to be on infectious disease, or Alzheimer’s Disease. In both of these situations, an understanding of microbiological techniques and assays could be critically important. While priming me more generally for research and internship experiences, this summer work has also set me up to pursue research and study in the fields that I have the most interest in going into. Hopefully, I will be able to guide the future iGEM teams at Ohio State, and add on mentorship and guidance to the vital pieces of knowledge I have garnered throughout this experience.

Safelite Autoglass

1. Please provide a brief description of your STEP Signature Project. Write two or three
sentences describing the main activities your STEP Signature Project entailed.

 

For my STEP project, I did a summer internship. I worked at Safelite Autoglass, and I managed our social media, such as Facebook, instagram and twitter. I also worked with digital marketing like ads, Hulu commercials, and Search engine Marketing.

2. What about your understanding of yourself, your assumptions, or your view of the
world changed/transformed while completing your STEP Signature Project? Write one or
two paragraphs to describe the change or transformation that took place.

 

Before starting this project, I was nervous. I had never worked in a big office before and it was nerve racking at first. However, over the course of the internship I gained a new sense of confidence. I learned so much about marketing, and now I have more faith in my skills. I also feel more well equipped to start the job search. I know I am smart and capable, and a lot of that came from interning.

 

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? Write three or four paragraphs describing the key aspects of your experiences
completing your STEP Signature Project that led to this change/transformation.

 

I got an amazing chance to work with one of the smartest groups of people this summer. Everyone at Safelite welcomed me with open arms. I was invited to happy hours, work dinners and even events. About halfway through the experience, our whole department went to Kings Island and volunteered with A Kid Again, a group that gives sick kids the chance to have a normal, fun day. This was a huge team building exercise, and was honestly so much fun. I was so grateful to be invited along.

I also did a few weeks of onboarding, which is when you get to meet with people from all different places in the company. I met with Analysts, product owners, copy writers and even the VP of Digital. Getting to talk to these people, both about work experiences and their lives really opened me up to new experiences.

Finally, I got the chance to work with another intern at Safelite. She also goes to OSU and we really bonded through the whole experience. It was really great to have another college student with me every step of the way. Her and I have continued our friendship, and may even live together next year.

 

 

4. Why is this change/transformation significant or valuable for your life? Write one or
two paragraphs discussing why this change or development matters and/or relates to your
academic, personal, and/or professional goals and future plans.

 

This change was very important to me. First of all, I learned a lot academically. The past few weeks in classes, I have felt ahead of the curve for one of the first times in my college career. I know things we are just now learning because of this internship. I got the chance to learn a whole new language, the language of digital marketing. I also got to work closely with analysts, and have a better understanding of how companies monitor digital trends.

Beyond just learning, I felt a change in myself. I took everything that came my way in stride, and I feel more confident in my skills now. I know I can do what needs done, when it needs done. I am very grateful for this experience, especially since I want to go into digital marketing as a future career.