My STEP signature project this past summer was an internship with the United States Department of Justice in Columbus, Ohio. Over the course of ten weeks I had the opportunity to work alongside many analysts, experts, and law enforcement officials on a variety of projects in order to serve the city of Columbus. My main activities included conducting research, gathering data, planning projects, creating reports, and assisting my mentors through short and long-term goals.
During my internship, I learned to work with a variety of people who were very different than me. I was one of three interns assigned to my unit and each of us had different majors, backgrounds, and career interests. Between the three of us there was a healthy competitiveness within the workplace in regards to the opportunities that were offered and the different projects we wanted to work on. While each of us specialized in something unique, many projects required us to learn to work together and use one another’s skills and backgrounds in order to accomplish our tasks. This balance of healthy competition and productive collaboration was a unique dynamic that I had not experienced before. I certainly had to learn to adapt to the work environment in order to be successful.
Through my work, I discovered more of my interests and the type of work that I am good at. I was able to use my science background in several projects as well as enhance my skills in conducting research and data gathering. My internship this summer also affirmed my interests in the field of public health and a future career in public service. I was able to seize a variety of opportunities related to these areas of interests, which enabled me to learn more about my self and what I want to do in my future. Additionally, I was able to speak to many experts in countless fields who offered different perspectives and greater insight within the cross roads of law enforcement, science, and public health.
A specific internship opportunity that affirmed my career interests and enabled my transformation this summer was a conference work trip in New Orleans, Louisiana. This two-day trip consisted of a radiological awareness workshop and isotope crossroads simulation. While this opportunity was not originally offered to interns, I went above and beyond to express my interest in the program offered and requested to attend the workshop. After conveying how the program would benefit me, I was ecstatic to learn that my office approved my request and I was able to use my STEP funds to cover much of the costs.
The conference invited law enforcement officials, emergency response teams, and public health experts from across the country to attend the training. Here, I had the opportunity to directly see how public health, science, and law enforcement intersect with each other in order to serve the American people, specifically in disaster prevention and public safety. During the radiological awareness workshop, I learned how public health agencies work with law enforcement to identify radiological incidents and keep people safe. The isotope crossroads simulation allowed collaboration between government, stakeholders, and health officials in response to a case simulation.
At the conference I was able to meet with an official from the Center for Disease Control who was a knowledgeable expert in her field. We spoke about graduate schools as well as career fields in public health and she was able to give me some great guidance and support. I also had a chance to network among people within the military and law enforcement who gave me great life advice. This opportunity was significant to me because it allowed me to experience a greater perspective of the field I wish to work in. It was an amazing networking opportunity where I met professionals who shared with me their knowledge in both science and law enforcement. This conference workshop was the highlight of my STEP project and has made a meaningful impact on me.