STEP Signature Project Reflection

Name: Neall Sarmey

Type of Project: Internship


For my STEP Signature Project, I took the opportunity to participate in a global internship that was arranged through the Fisher College of Business. During my internship, I was in Singapore interning with KPMG in their Southeast Asia headquarters working in their Management Consulting department. During my time in Singapore, I got the opportunity to fully immerse myself in Asian culture and to work for a Dutch multinational corporation in an Asia setting, which gave me a new perspective of Southeast Asian business and culture.


As a student interning in Singapore, I initially had a very difficult time adjusting to life in Singapore as a citizen and an employee. Many things about Singapore, including its very small size and feel of a non-Western country were very new to me. Although I am a native Indian and have visited other countries in the Asia continent such as India, I still found Singapore very different. I also struggled initially with confidence, as this was my first internship and, that too, with a Big 4 Auditing firm. However, as my time passed and I was fitting in at work, I was able to understand the approach that people in Singapore have in life: They put an emphasis on hard work and meaningful experience and opportunity. I saw a huge diversity in the office in terms of backgrounds, people from different work fields, etc. This gave me a better, well-rounded global view of what work was like and what business in a new country could feel like. In the United States, many people feel completely content with what they have and will act as if they have everything, but when I was in Singapore, people in KPMG in my department were always striving for the best, and were always dedicated to their work, well aware that they can accomplish more in life. Adjusting to life in Singapore was tough at first, but through various interactions at work and while roaming the country, I was able to slowly gel as a temporary resident.


Adjusting to the workplace in Singapore proved even more challenging in a variety of ways. First, I did not know what to expect as this was my first internship, so I was very anxious about my duties and what I would have to work on. Second, I was worried about whether I had enough background or whether I could learn fast enough as an intern in a limited 8 week frame. Finally, I am a Finance major and I was taking on roles in Management Consulting, so I was immersing myself in a field I had placed little emphasis on exploring in the past. However, one person who I met who really changed my perspective in my internship was my Performance Manager. As a student intern, I came in very timid and uneasy as I felt I had not learned much in school to prepare myself. However, one thing she taught me is that everything in work and life has two sides to it, one side is what you are capable of, and the other side is what you can learn. In other words, the second area, which is what you are trying to improve upon, is untapped potential. As a skeptic, I found this hard to believe, but as my internship went on, and I was assigned to 2 engagements, each relating to providing Financial Services and support for Insurance companies and Financial Institutions. I started to learn that every field in business might have something that I am capable of working on. Management Consulting was a field that I had little exposure of research completed on, but my internship gave me helpful insight into this field, and opened a door for many future opportunities.


While living in Singapore was a tough endeavor, it completely transformed my Worldview and understanding of the Globe. One thing that I noticed in the United States is that many people have certain comfort zones and a narrow-minded view of only the United States and nothing much. When I started interning in KPMG at Singapore, people have a completely different World view in that they have a huge willingness to learn and expand their World knowledge beyond Southeast Asia. I also met people in the company that were not even originally from Southeast Asia and were actually born in Europe, Australia, or the US but lived in Singapore for a long time working there. Thus, I felt glad choosing Singapore as a place to complete a global internship because I was able to expand my World view beyond the United States and get a taste of another region in Southeast Asia.


I also was able to learn a lot about myself in the workplace. When I first went to company orientation and met one of my supervisors, one thing she advised of me was to make the most out of my opportunity and use it learn more about myself. Those words sounded a bit obvious yet difficult because I was in a field that I had little exposure or knowledge about and thus, I was worried about expectations. However, when I was trying to get acquainted to the work I was doing, I often found myself completing work at a faster pace and beating the deadlines set by my supervisor. While the work I completed required little modifications as part of my client engagement projects, I often found myself bored since I had little work to do. Because of this, I often found myself seeking out others in the office and asking about extra work they needed completed or something that they wanted me to complete. Doing this, though, was a little difficult because in school, I was often used to being assigned work and always having something to work on even if I got nothing assigned in class. In the company though, I learned that I’d always have to seek out work as an intern if I finish assignments because I might sit around with very little work. While asking work, I was able to follow the words given to me by my supervisor and figure out my interests in my internship. One of my interests in consulting was regulations and controls, and I was able to explore this interest along with others in assignments I got or asked for. Overall, I learned a lot about the work environment in terms of the work pace and the company culture while in KPMG.


While KPMG always put a huge emphasis on performance, I was able to get involved in the social factor in work. The company had a recreation league with multiple sports that employees would use as a means of destressing and meeting other people. While in KPMG, I got involved in basketball, along with two other interns from Ohio State that were a part of my program. When I landed in Singapore, I did not know anybody, including the people also interning in KPMG. Through basketball, I was able to become good friends with the other interns from Ohio State while also meeting several other employees. Of course, I always kept a huge focus and emphasis on my performance and impressing my supervisor, but basketball was a great way for me to destress while also meet new people. Basketball there taught me that I should always try and seek out adventure while also making new friends when I am doing work. This is one lesson I hope to incorporate back in college so that I can complete my work but also destress and feel more confident and calm rather than being stressed.


Singapore itself as a country taught me a lot about maintaining an optimal combination of discipline and freedom in life. Singapore as a country is very strict, with penalties against littering, crossing streets without using a crosswalk, etc. In the US, there are many acts that we commit that are against the rules yet we do them since consequences are rarely handed out, but in Singapore, penalties and consequences are high for many small acts. Thus, I had to be careful and change myself completely. Another small act we practice in the US which we take for granted is chewing gum anywhere. In Singapore, chewing gum in public is illegal, which meant that I had to switch to mints instead. While these changes were not very difficult, they were a huge difference from life I lived in the United States, and this taught me a lot about keeping a discipline life and following order, which was something I was able to incorporate in work. Discipline is a very important idea that is required for success, and the high number of rules in Singapore taught me numerous lessons about discipline. Along with the rules, I also was able to realize the freedom I had. To get around Singapore, I bought a train card which allowed me to take trips all around Singapore. This then forced me to get outside of my comfort zone and explore the city to make the most use of my time in Singapore. I gained a new love of adventure and trying to be in motion rather than being stationary. This combination of freedom and discipline is one thing I seek to carry with me to Ohio State so that I can always be moving in terms of studying and achieving new things in life, yet understand my limit and the restraints to my freedom.


Overall, the changes I gained in Singapore are valuable to my life in a variety of ways. The main lesson I learned was about the way I complete and conduct work. I am a very pragmatic person who likes to look at the big picture in order to understand my assignments. When I was in my first engagement on IT and Financial Compliance with an insurance company, I would always find myself looking at the company’s style of business to understand what controls it should place on operations. This approach taught me a lot about making decisions and thus, lead to thoughtful and meaningful products that impressed my supervisor. Thus, my attention to the big picture is one valuable change for my life because it allows me to understand the context of all problems I face before I try to compile information or statistics. To me, details are useless without a solid understanding of the overall context.

Another change that is valuable in life from my internship is empathy and a willingness to help. While I was interning, I often found myself seeking out other assignments in order to occupy my time since I would often finish assignments way ahead of the deadlines I received. I started off very shy, but then had an enjoyable experience going out of my comfort zone to ask for more work. I was able to learn new skills in work, and I was able to connect with others when helping them with work that I could complete if I was bored. This willingness to seek out work taught me about empathy, which is an important skill as it allows me to connect with others in work and skill. In the end, my experience in Singapore was a complete life-changing experience that taught me a variety of lessons and completely transformed my World view, giving me the bravery and determination to conquer new challenges that wait ahead of my life.




STEP Reflection: Actuarial Internship

For my STEP Signature Project, I worked as an actuarial intern at Zurich Insurance in Schaumburg, IL. I worked alongside my mentor and other actuarial analysts to create new tools for analyzing data and to automate processes for the Reserving team within the Actuarial Department. At the end of my internship, I presented on a tool that I created that allows other actuaries to analyze data from a certain database more quickly and efficiently in Microsoft Excel.

Because of this internship, I was able to experience the professional corporate environment within a large insurance company.  My expectations for the level of teamwork were exceeded.  Throughout my internship, I also learned how to do things that looked foreign to me before. I realized that with a little guidance and a lot of questions, I can learn a lot about a new process or tool and be able to create something new – this is something I didn’t imagine doing before starting my internship.  I was also able to work on my public-speaking skills, which I’ve learned can always improve.

While working at Zurich, I got to experience how actuaries work together on big projects.  I witnessed teamwork and problem solving between all the actuaries in my department; teams even consisted of new-hires, senior analysts and chief actuaries all working together.  I liked seeing how involved the chief actuaries were with the young actuarial analysts because they provide a lot of guidance and good advice. I really enjoyed seeing all the teamwork that goes on because working as a team is something I am very familiar with and I think it makes a company’s work stronger and better.

When I got my first project I was a little nervous because I didn’t know much about the Reserving process that I was working on.  I had to ask a lot of questions about what the steps are and why we need to use it.  I learned that the more you know about a process or tool, the easier it is to see the end result that you’re trying to get to when you’re changing something.  Having an end goal in mind when creating something is crucial in making something that has a meaningful end result. Throughout this internship, I learned how to adapt to something completely new and to learn as much about it as possible in a short amount of time so that I can work to make it better.

At the end of my internship, every intern presented on something that they worked on during the summer.   For about 7-8 weeks I worked on a tool that I made from scratch.  While working on this tool, I learned a lot about the monthly tasks that the Reserving group is in charge of and how they handle these tasks.  I also learned technical skills, like writing code in Visual Basic Applications to automate repetitive processes. When it came to creating a PowerPoint and practicing my presentation, I learned even more about what my tool can do as I worked on my speech. I had a great experience with public speaking during my presentation in front of many actuaries within Zurich, and I learned how important preparation is for presentations and how valuable well-thought-out presentations can be.

This internship played a huge role in preparing me further for a future career as an actuary.  I now have valuable experience that I can take with me to a future internship or full-time job, and I believe that I will be more prepared and comfortable when starting a new job in the future.  The things I accomplished during my internship were an extension of what I’ve learned in school, as I used the knowledge I have gained in the classroom while working on different projects.  I learned a great deal about the insurance industry during my internship, which has better prepared me for the future and has further solidified my interest in actuarial science.

-Brittany Brandon

STEP Reflection: Zookeeper Internship

I completed a zookeeper internship at the Ft. Wayne Children’s Zoo for my STEP Signature Project. I was stationed in the Program Animal Building and my main duty was to provide husbandry for the mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, and invertebrates in our education collection. These animals, such as parrots, rats, snakes, and millipedes, were not on exhibit, but were used in animal demonstrations and programs to education all people about animals and conservation. I even had the opportunity to present these animals to the children who participated in the zoo’s Summer Safari Camp. This internship provided me with amazing experience in handling and caring for various species of animals and allowed me to educate children about the animals I enjoyed every day.


At the end of the spring semester, my confidence was depleted, due to an unhealthy relationship. After ending the relationship, it was difficult to regain my passion for animal sciences and I doubted my abilities to pursue my dream of becoming a veterinarian. I was excited to begin my internship and progress into a new chapter of my life, but I did not believe it would be so life changing. My coworkers were incredible and helped me learn the daily tasks and how to handle the animals. They quickly trusted me to work independently which greatly improved my self-confidence and made me truly happy to have the internship. When the zookeepers encouraged me to present during animal demonstrations, my confidence in my knowledge and speaking skills grew exponentially. We would also brainstorm together in order to develop solutions or create more efficient methods of caring for the animals. The four of us would also meet outside of work to enjoy dinner or watch movies together. My three coworkers became my close friends, and with their help, my passion for animals and my desire to become a veterinarian returned.


Before beginning this internship, I was feeling conflicted whether I would prefer a career in animal husbandry or I should strive to become a veterinarian. Although I thoroughly enjoyed my internship as a zookeeper, I decided to pursue the veterinary medicine profession. I believe this decision can be linked to a single animal I worked with during my internship, a ferret named Mara. Her sweet and playful disposition stole my heart and she became my favorite animal in the Program Animal Building. Unfortunately, near the end of my internship, Mara was admitted to the zoo vet hospital and it was discovered that she had low blood sugar, possibly due to a tumor. The vet staff is currently taking incredible care of her. I was heartbroken upon hearing this information. That was when I decided I wanted to do more than animal husbandry, I wanted to become part of the solution to heal sick animals. Whether I choose to work with companion, large, or exotic animals, it is now my desire to use my knowledge and improve the lives of animals.


This internship has had a great impact on me that will positively influence my future. I gained three incredible friends and I plan to stay in contact with them. I improved my communication skills which will allow me to become a better Teaching Assistant in the coming school year. More importantly, I have regained my confidence, which will drive me to excel in my classes and pursue a future in veterinary school.

-Julia Rose

STEP Reflection: P&G Internship

For my STEP Signature project I participated at a summer internship at Proctor and Gamble. I worked as an R&D engineer in the baby care division. My primary project included the integration of new fit technologies into currently developing diaper models.


While participating in this experience I had the opportunity to experience a real engineering work environment. I really enjoyed working in a team with experienced engineers to solve real world problems. Everyone at Proctor and Gamble was helpful and caring, and made me feel so at home. I was really able to appreciate the experience of being there, however I had issues with the work I was doing.



As I began my internship, all of the employees made huge efforts to make me feel welcome. These gestures ranged from inviting me to lunch to giving me their personal phone numbers if I needed anything while living in Cincinnati. I immediately felt cared for and taken care of. That is still one of the biggest selling points of this company for me.


No matter how much I loved the people that I worked with, I couldn’t connect with the work that I was doing. I spent each day prototyping designs and testing them, and I learned that I really liked working in laboratories. Collecting data that brought new information to the company was so exciting, but the end product was underwhelming. I realized that the only reason I cared about my work was because my name was being put on the results.


The work that I was doing didn’t feel meaningful. As a biomedical engineer, I had always imagined myself working on medical problems, such as the research I do at school in sports medicine. Though I tried really hard to produce the best work possible, it was really hard to connect to the work that I was doing. While I really enjoyed working in industry, it is really important for me to do work that I find interesting and stimulating.


Due to the quality of work that I produced, I was offered another internship with Proctor and Gamble. I’m still working on deciding whether or not to return. There are many pros and cons. Pros include the work environment, the dedication of the company to employees and the compensation for employees. The only con being that my work is not likely to connect to my area of study/interest.


This internship offered me valuable experience in the work force. I learned that I could achieve a great balance of research and business in industry. R&D is definitely a career path I would be interested in the future. I still believe that graduate school is my main priority after my undergraduate education, but I believe that this could be a great path for me to pursue after.

Preserving the History of The Department of Dance

This summer I completed a research internship at the Theatre Research Institute under the curator Nena Couch. At the beginning this internship, there was only a vague research topic: to research the women of The Ohio State University’s Department of Dance. However, after a few weeks this idea transformed into a project. I created an online, interactive archive to showcase the histories and legacies of these women.

During my time at The Ohio State University, I have rekindled my love for dance history. This has been found through the various dance history courses that I have taken in the Department of Dance. This summer, I have realized that I not only have a passion for dance history, but I have a passion for preserving dance history. I have conducted extensive research into the lives of the women who have come through the Department of Dance as students or faculty. With the information that I have learned, I have laid the groundwork for future research that I will conduct during my undergraduate studies. Many of the women that I researched, I had never heard of, yet they all have achieved or are achieving great things in the dance world. While I was conducting research, I also found that there is a lack of information for many of the women who have come through or been faculty at the Department of Dance. This impacted me greatly because the achievements of these women are or will be lost. I have realized that I desire to listen, research and learn about the lives of others, so that their accomplishments can be known by a larger audience.

Two of the sources that I read this summer greatly influenced my desire to preserve history. The first was The Development of the Department of Dance at the Ohio State by Jacqueline Alkire and the second was Ann Hutchinson Guest, Lucy Venable, and Odette Blum: Women Leaders Who Scored Dance as a 20th Century Art Form by Valarie Williams. These sources chronicled the achievements of the founding women of the Department of Dance at The Ohio State University. There was extensive primary and secondary research involved in each of the sources that I read. However, the use of interviews was the more compelling to me. I found it fascinating to read the words and depictions of events from these women. As I read these sources, I realized that I wanted to conduct my own interviews to help preserve the various generations of women who have passed through the Department of Dance. By gaining inspiration from these sources, it helped to fuel my desire to preserve dance history.

During this internship I worked under Nena Couch; however, Dr. Karen Eliot was my advisor from the Department of Dance. I sent her various reports throughout the summer and also met in person to discuss my project. Over the course of this summer, Dr. Eliot, who is a dance historian, has become a mentor. We would often discuss her own research and the methods she utilized to achieve her conclusions, as well as discussions on my own research and conclusions. She has helped to push me towards my goals while also offering advice on how to achieve my goals. She has also encouraged me to join one of the dance history organizations, Society of Dance History Scholars or Congress on Research in Dance. This will connect me with professionals who are working in a field that I would like to pursue. It will also allow me to attend and listen to research at the next conference, which will be held in Columbus next year. Dr. Eliot, has been and hopefully will continue to be a mentor that will help me on my path of preserving history.

A second guiding light this summer has been a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Dance, Benny Simon. I met with Benny to discuss filling out the paperwork for the Institutional Review Board (IRB). He had recently completed the forms for his own research that consisted of interviewing prominent dance figures. Simon was able to give me advice on completing the forms while also showing me his work, so that I had an example for what I should be writing on my own forms. Simon also gave me interview advice, such as what programs to use, transcript advice and even how to conduct the face-to-face interviews. Simon was able to help me on the practical side of preserving dance history. Without his aid, I would not have been able to complete as much work as I did this summer.

My passion for dance has extended past the physical nature of the activity this summer. I have learned this summer that dance can be not only physical, but intellectual as well. While I plan to dance professionally after I graduate from The Ohio State University, I will be able to continue working with dance after my performing career is over. By completing this research, I have started on a path that I may not pick up again for ten after I graduate. However, it gives me a long term goal to work towards. I cannot ignore my passion for preserving history, it is very important to me. As I continue to experience dance in new ways during my collegiate and professional career, I will continue to read and learn about dance history for my later career goals of being a dance historian.

To view the archive I created please click here. 

To view my E-Portfolio for the Department of Dance with additional information about my internship please click here and here. 


STEP Reflection: Buddy Up Tennis

My STEP Signature Project was to serve as an intern with Buddy Up Tennis for 10 weeks during the summer of 2016. Buddy Up Tennis is an organization that teaches children with Down Syndrome how to play tennis. As an intern, I performed a variety of tasks including composing a Buddy Up Tennis Lock-In event guide, serving as a coach during summer camp and developing a spreadsheet displaying the revenues and expenses for all 15 of the locations.

This experience has shown me that I can utilize my strengths in the most unlikely scenarios. Being able to work on projects that required more creativity taught me how to adapt to different situations and apply my strengths in places where the application might not be so obvious. I have also gained a great deal of self-confidence during my internship. Serving as a coach during the two weeks of summer camp was a unique situation. I have never been a coach before and having so much more responsibility gave me the opportunity to thrive. By the end of camp I was more confident in myself and my ability to work with the children. Lastly, being able to create budgets for all 15 of the locations showed me that there is always more to learn about an organization. I quickly realized that this philosophy applies to relationships and people as well.

The first task of my internship was to assemble a guide to putting on a Buddy Up Tennis Lock-In, which is a fundraising event held by the Columbus location each year. This task pushed me to think creatively and to be thorough. I needed to cover every single detail in order to make it easy for the other sites. This was challenging at times but it showed me that I can do things that may not be in my realm of expertise. It showed me that being thorough is a strength of mine. I also realized that the skills I use in my daily schoolwork, such as writing everything down and paying close attention to detail, are applicable for just about any task.

The two weeks of summer camp was an especially transformational experience for me. For the entirety of my time with Buddy Up, I have always been a Buddy. This means that I am paired with an individual athlete and guide them through the clinic that the coaches have prepared. However, during summer camp I was able to serve as a coach. Being put in this role forced me to be more confident in myself and my abilities. Having all of the athletes look to me for direction was a new feeling and it was quite intimidating at first. However, by the end of the two weeks I could tell that I had changed personally. I was not nervous or unsure of myself. Instead, I was prepared and confident that I could guide these athletes through a successful clinic. Having that opportunity to strengthen my weaknesses was invaluable and has changed me significantly.

Lastly, being able to create budgets for all 15 locations taught me a lot about the organization as a whole. Being involved with Buddy Up for so long, I thought that I had a good understanding of how it functioned. However, being able to see all of the finances and hear about how each site is funded taught me so much more than I could have ever imagined. After combing through all of this information, I realized that everything in life goes much deeper than the surface of what you see. Being able to develop a more well-rounded understanding of how this non-profit functions, I have a newfound appreciation for the organization as a whole. I am excited to continue volunteering with them and developing an even deeper understanding.

Going forward, I am excited to see how these transformations impact my life. I have a better idea of my strengths and weaknesses. This will serve me well in the future as I approach tasks that I may feel intimidated by. I also have much more confidence as a result of my experience as a coach and have already seen that impact my personal relationships.

I have a newfound appreciation for how deep organizations are. I have discovered that I am very interested in the way businesses operate and will definitely act on this interest in my future as an accounting major. All of these things will prove helpful and influential in my life. I am excited to see what my future holds inside and outside of Buddy Up.

Striking a pose!

Striking a pose!

Had a great time spending a day with the kids at COSI :)

Had a great time spending a day with the kids at COSI 🙂

Warming up for a great day at Summer Camp

Warming up for an action-packed day at Summer Camp

More blogs about my time as an intern with Buddy Up Tennis can be found at the link below:


For my STEP internship, I worked at the Naval Research Laboratory in Washington DC. I was part of the Naval Research Enterprise Internship Program (NREIP) administered by ASEE. At this internship, I assisted my mentor with his research by designing parts for experiments and analyzing data.

From discussions with my roommate, who also worked at the NRL, and working with my mentor, I realized that I will need to enjoy my future job and that I want a short commute. I also realized that many people will put up with very long commutes and bad hours, for the opportunity to have a job they love doing. Another important realization that I had was the understanding that I need to have fulfilling social life, and also find fulfillment in my work. This internship helped me realize that I could find both in a career as a researcher or research engineer.

My realization that I needed to find fulfilment in my work was fueled by two people, my roommate and my mentor. At the beginning of our internship, my roommate and I were discussing what we were doing at work and my roommate mentioned that he didn’t really enjoy what he was doing. After a bit of discussion, he revealed that he was fine with that because he believed that that one should find fulfillment at home and in one’s personal life rather than in their job. I didn’t realize that I disagreed with him until he said that. I believe that you need to have fulfilling work, and personal life, in order to be happy. When this discussion was over, I realized that in the future, I would need to search for a job that I enjoyed, and a living situation where I could have a fulfilling social life.

Interactions with my mentor and other interns also helped me realize what I want out of a job, and that I need to enjoy it. My mentor showed me that I should enjoy my career. I came to this realization when I saw how much he enjoyed his work. When I would work with him, usually in the lab, he was always bursting with energy and ideas to improve or test our project. I want my future career to be as fun as my mentor finds his career. Almost every day, a group of interns would meet each other for lunch. At lunch, we would talk about practically anything, and what we were doing at work would occasionally come up. I realized that most of the other interns had jobs where they consistently needed to solve problems, or that they were trying to study some sort of effect in order to understand it better. These conversations, combined with my experiences in the internship, made me realize that I want a career doing that type of work.

The internship program did not offer housing, so I had to find a place to live on my own. Since I didn’t know DC or the DC metropolitan area, I made a few mistakes when choosing a place to live. What I’ve learned from these mistakes will definitely influence where I want to live in the future. To begin, I had an awful commute. My morning commute was about an hour, and my afternoon commute was around 1.5 hours in stop-and-go traffic. This long commute meant that I had absolutely no time for hobbies, since all of my spare time was spent driving to-and-from work. In the future, I do not want to live far away from my job. I was also nowhere near the actual city of Washington, or any of its public transportation. Since I didn’t have a car, I ended up ran into some difficulty traveling into the city. When I’ve found a career, and if I live near a city, I’d like to live much closer than I did this summer and have access to public transportation.


This internship helped me end the summer with many more expectations and hopes for my future. It helped me realize that I’d like to be a government researcher, and it let me access experiences and people that that will be helpful in finding similar internships and career oppurtunities. The location of the house I lived in, along with the commute, gave me insight into what I want from where I live, and where my home should be in relation to my work.

Here’s a link to the blog that I wrote:

It doesn’t have much, but I tried to keep it updated on some of the things I did.

I’ve added some pictures to this post. These were the other interns that I spent time with. We’d get dinner on Fridays after work and usually visit museums on the weekend. IMG-1308920416 IMG1441691363 IMG1533953465