Frito-Lay Internchip

This summer I was a Future Sales Leader with Frito-Lay North America, working out of the Distribution Center here in Columbus, OH. The internship involved learning about the business from the ground up, so I was able to work on the frontline merchandising, as well as directly with customers. My key project was SnacksToYou where I would go to small accounts and inform them about the program then sign them up for it.

Originally, I thought companies shipped their product to stores and that the store employees were the ones who stocked the shelves. It came as a bit of a surprise to me that Frito-Lay undergoes Direct-Store-Distribution where they employ retail sales representatives who deliver products to stores and merchandise these on the shelves. Frito-Lay even have their own unique shelves to make their product optimally merchandised and stand out from the competition. I got to go on three route rides with the retail sales representatives, driving in the truck with them, delivering and merchandising product.

Building upon this, it was very eye-opening to see everything that goes on behind the scenes to determine when and how chips are put on the shelves. I attended the weekly value in planning sessions where incoming shipments were discussed and how they would be distributed among the District Sales Leaders. These would be planned weeks in advance, especially for holiday weekends to ensure that there wasn’t excess inventory when the products arrived to the distribution center.

Route rides really changed my view on how Frito-Lay services its customers. I had to get up really early in the morning to get to the distribution center and meet the retail sales representatives. My first route ride was a small format one which are mostly gas station and convenience stores. We went to nine of these and, as it was first time, it was very intriguing to see how everything worked. My second route ride was large format, and we went to about four Kroger stores. The trips were mostly deliveries where another full-time employee called a merchandiser would merchandise the product that the retail sales representative delivered. The one store that we did merchandise coincidentally happened to be the Kroger which my family shops at; this was a cool experience.

My last route ride was a small account one, which are independently one convenience stores with low weekly sales volumes. This ride was different than the rest in that the representative had bulk product in his truck as opposed to pre-packed orders. Orders for small and large format routes are packed and staged in the truck each day for the retail sales representative by the warehouse workers. The small account retail sales representative would go into the store to see what product they needed, then go back to his truck to pick the product and bring it in to merchandise.

The project I was given also impacted my view on how the business works. My project was SnacksToYou and it is a program which Frito-Lay uses to service some small accounts. With SnacksToYou, customers would order their own product and merchandise it themselves after it is delivered via UPS. This is different from the Direct-Store-Delivery system with the retail sales representative. These stores cost Frito-Lay money to visit because they do not sell enough weekly. I visited over 130 stores to inform them about this program and get them signed up for it as it was not cost-effective for Frito-Lay to have them on routes. A lot of these interactions were very challenging as the store owners did not want the responsibility of ordering and merchandising so it was my job to let them know the benefits of SnacksToYou and how it would help in the long run. Removing these low sale stores not only cut the costs from visiting them, but it also allows the retail sales representative to be able to make more visits to higher performing stores instead, further increasing sales. I’m glad that my work this summer had a positive and profitable impact on a global company.

Understanding the inner workings of a Fortune 50 organization is valuable and helps be continue towards my future career goals. I want to work in marketing so in order to convince consumers to purchase my product or service, I must understand how they think. Being on the frontline with Frito-Lay exposed me to interactions with customers, and my sales experience with my project enhanced this as well. My interpersonal skills were developed and I was able to think critically to convince customers that SnackToYou would benefit them.

I was fortunate enough to receive a full time offer from Frito-Lay to be a District Sales Leader here in Columbus. I really appreciate the opportunity that STEP gave me to be able to cover expenses this summer so I could really focus on succeeding in my internship. I’m also grateful for the assistance and mentorship of Dr. Eastridge. I look forward to sharing my experience with other students who may be interested in this type of internship.

Internship Presentation | Google Photos Album

Actuarial Internship

During the summer of 2017, I worked as an Actuarial Intern for Nationwide Financial here in Columbus. Working on the Asset/Liability Management Team, I received hands on experience of actuarial work and had to a chance to thoroughly apply many of the concepts and theories learned throughout my academic career at Ohio State.

The practical application of actuarial concepts diverges from the academic theories, since in academic courses, heavy assumptions are made regarding economic conditions, risk appetite, capital requirements and availability, and problems are presented on much smaller scales. This experience really showed me the differences between theory and practice, particularly how to assess, analyze, and manage aggregate business needs rather than individual needs. I also developed leadership and public speaking skills through leading projects, meetings, and presentations.

Primarily, I led a large investment project to determine the structure of a portfolio that best balanced investment earnings and risk appetite for a particular line of business. Individual policies have to be treated differently than business products as a whole, and aggregation allows for different investment opportunities. Running sensitivities on our assumptions provides a wholistic view of the investment to ensure that our decisions aren’t too dependent certain assumptions. This broadened my understanding of actuarial work and showed the breadth of business decisions that need to be made based on models.

Another project that I had the opportunity to work on related to credit risk, a concept that is mentioned often in actuarial courses and exams. However, the analysis or management of this risk is never discussed in academics as it related heavily to risk appetite, and this summer I learned about the many different issues in the actuarial workplace that still need to be solved, or improved, or added. I kept finding amazing projects and opportunities to work on, and that made me really excited about my career outlook in this field.

Lastly, I developed strong relationships with leaders at Nationwide and had the opportunity to learn about their work and their perspectives on many different issues across the company and the industry. This not only broadened my understanding, but also gave me insight into what leadership skills and abilities are needed to be a successful. In additional, leading projects, project meetings, and presenting project work and findings to multiple different groups over the course of the internship helped me develop both my leadership and my public speaking skills.

I believe this experience provided me with a better understanding of my career, while also developing my leadership and public speaking skills. I understand the actuarial work much better now than I did before this internship, since I had the opportunity to lead multiple projects in real world applications rather than academic theories. I also think I am a much stronger public speaker. All of these changes will make me a much stronger worker, which would provide me with endless professional and leadership opportunities. This is highly valuable since a strong career can lead to success in many different dimensions of wellness, such as financial, career, social, intellectual, and creative.

Grand Rapids Police Department Forensic Service Unit Internship

Bryce Griffiths


My step signature project was an internship with the Grand Rapids Police Department’s Forensic Service Unit. As an intern I mostly rode along with professional crime scene technicians and learned techniques and methods they use to find, document, and preserve evidence. I also helped collect evidence on real crime scenes including: bullet casings, projectiles, and fingerprints.

I think the biggest transformation was my understanding of what a CST does daily. I really had no idea what to expect from the internship because I had really no idea what CST’s did besides that it wasn’t the same as what they do on TV shows like CSI, and that was my favorite thing about the internship was finally learning straight from the source what CST’s do. My view of the world didn’t really change except in terms of crime and crime prevention: actually working crime scenes and with the men and women who investigate them gave me a unique perspective on crime and criminals

CST’s must document everything they find at a scene be it with pictures, notes or even hand drawn diagrams. In a few crime scenes I went to, we found bullet casings, and then, when you find a bullet casing, you must place evidence markers near it, photograph it from far away, photograph it up close, bag it, tag it, and then describe in your report what kind of casing it is as well as brand and where you found it. This all makes sense from a clerical perspective but it also means we can and did spend hours at a scene where only 3 shots were fired, because once you finish with the casings you have to repeat the process with the projectiles. I was not expecting this and it changed my perspective on what is pretty much the number one thing I want to get into.

Fingerprints are also the most useful piece of evidence we collected from scenes. We of course collected DNA samples however these were seldom used because of how expensive it is to run a DNA test. Real life evidence collection is nothing like TV because a majority of the crime scenes we were called to were breaking and entering (B&E) or vehicle larceny; there was not a homicide every week like on CSI or Bones. We would dust the area for prints but seldom found more than one or two usable prints; in fact, most crimes we were called to most likely went unsolved despite the fact that we had 2 of the best latent print examiners in Michigan working in the forensics unit. It is a little disheartening knowing that you won’t solve every case, but I feel like this is actually vital knowledge to have before getting into the field.

Gun related crime scenes were the next most common I would go to; however, the only scene I went to where another person was shot was one where a man accidentally shot himself; it was mostly people shooting at houses. There were only 2 homicides while I was in Grand Rapids, a city of 200,000, during the summer, when crime rates are generally higher. I learned that violent crime in large cities is actually way less than it is made out to be. It’s mostly petty (though still felonious) things like smashing car windows or breaking into homes and businesses. One case stands out in particular that really changed my perception of crime: a B&E of a construction site where the thief used a forklift to break open a large tool box only to steal a hammer and some screwdrivers. It’s impossible to know why they did this, however it shows crime is much less violent and exciting than it is portrayed on TV and probably for good reason: someone stealing a hammer and some screwdrivers would not make for a particularly exciting TV show.

It might be easier to ask how this is was not an important experience for me, because this is the job I want when I leave school. Getting exposed to the people and work in the field you are interested in is important for any one. I learned valuable skills that will assist me when I get a job in the field of forensics; also, I cultivated relationships with important individuals in the field, particularly in Grand Rapids. This is important because it is incredibly valuable to have contacts in the field you are interested in. These are people I can contact in the future, and people who can help point me in a direction that would help me fulfill my career goals.


Holding about 20g of Cocaine in baggies that we processed for fingerprints


Using Reflective Ultra Violet Light Imaging System (RUVIS) to view fingerprints on a CD without the use of fingerprint powder.


Placing evidence markers in a parking lot.

Broadway Video Internship

I was a post-production intern for Broadway Video for my STEP Signature Project. This was honestly the opportunity of a lifetime, and I wouldn’t have been able to do it, if it wasn’t for the STEP program. For two months I served as an intern for a crew of people that have their hands in productions affiliated with NBC, CBS, ABC, Netflix, and so much more.
During my time, I had basic intern duties. I brought people’s lunches to their suites, I answered phones, and I delivered things across New York City. On days where there wasn’t too much going on, I was given the opportunity to sit in with some of our editors and watch them work their magic.
The biggest thing this internship did for me was develop a network. My LinkedIn practically doubled in connections when I was done. I’m Facebook friends with a lot of these really cool editors, colorists, and sound-mixers, and I didn’t have that 3 months ago. Thanks to this opportunity, I now have contacts in the city to help me find a position after college, if needed.
My favorite part was learning what working in post-production is actually like. I saw editors in action. I learned different techniques used in the software. I even got to put my input into some of the choices made for things that actually aired on TV (I mean they were only ads, but still!) This was great because I was nervous that I wouldn’t fit in in post. I’ve always thought of myself as a pre-production and development type, but I found that post is a lot of fun. It opened a few doors in my mind on what my possibilities are. This is even going as far as me applying to offices for post-grad, that I honestly wouldn’t have considered myself able to do. I found confidence in an area that was unknown.
Getting several opportunities for one-on-one connection with the staff allowed me to develop deep relationships with the professionals around me. You’d be shocked how eager people are to help teach someone something new. Most of the time, I’d just walk up to somebody and be like “Do you have a minute for me to sit in and watch you work?” and they’d be thrilled.
I always kept a positive attitude when walking into the office. I could have been having the worst day, but the second I walked in it was just kind of like “Wow, I’m really here,” and the day would be better. Constantly reminding myself of how great an opportunity like this was, made the opportunity better. It went from “yeah I’m sorting some tapes today,” to “Oh my gosh I’m holding the original audio recordings of Carrie Fisher’s episode of SNL!” That did happen, by the way. Not everybody gets to do something like that, and remembering that made me eager to learn more. I got complements on my ideas and led mini projects to keep the office running. One time my fellow intern and I posed for pictures in the audio booths to show clients what it would feel like to work in the studio. Every week had fun perks like that. It was work, but not the kind that made you feel like you were working.
So that was the upside of this experience. I can’t lie, there was a down, and to me that was what changed the most for me. I learned that living in a city like New York is hard. My job was fun and I loved my new roommates, but the place wasn’t for me. I struggled with finances. Food and travel is ridiculously expensive and I was an unpaid intern. I found out that the city can be really lonely when you can’t afford to go out every night. People think I’m crazy now when I tell them, but being there just convinced me that I’d rather be here in Columbus. So yeah, Broadway Video itself really reaffirmed that I was in the right field, but living in New York showed me that I just picked the wrong location.
This summer was so vital for me. I have connections that I never thought I’d have. One other small thing it did, was show me what it’s like living in a city that I’d romanticized my entire life. I now know that I would love to spend a chapter of my life in New York, I’m not in much of a rush to get there. What I’d like to do moving forward is apply the skills I’ve learned so far to the Columbus scene. Thankfully, I now have BV on my resume, so it should get some eyes looking my way. Every interview I’ve had has brought up so many questions about my experience, and they are impressed. Not that I’m connected to people in The Big Apple, but that I want people like that here. I want to be a part of the growth of Columbus production. I’d like to grow it to the point where students are writing blog posts like I am right now. Oh! Did I forget to mention that I met Jerry Seinfeld? That was pretty cool too.

Internship with the Washington Academic Internship Program

For my STEP Signature Project I spent a summer in Washington, D.C. with the Washington Academic Internship Program. Through this program I was able to intern at the Government Accountability Office, network all around DC, finish my senior cap stone paper for my Public Policy major and learn more about future careers in DC. The program required that I work about 32 hours a week, do Friday study tours, and take two classes, one which was writing the 20 page senior cap stone paper about a policy topic of our choosing.

Because of this semester, I quickly realized how many wonderful opportunities exist in our government and, despite the current political sphere, the magnitude of hard work and dedication that goes into the public sector. This was eye opening as I witnessed analysts hustling to make feasible and well researched policy alternatives and suggestions for current issues. This is not to mention the personal growth I was able to achieve through this program. Being from Columbus, Ohio and then staying here for university, I am only truly familiar with the Midwest style of work. Going to DC which is a hodgepodge of people all over who affect the masses was a bit of a culture shock. For one, everything is much faster. You walk fast, you talk fast, and you better think fast too. I was surrounded by some of the brightest minds I have ever had the pleasure of working with and the change of pace was a bit intimidating. I was able, however, to quickly adapt to this new pace which was refreshing to see I was able to work in such a new environment. I think this will be helpful in a future career as I learn to adapt and work with individuals of varying expertise, interest, and maybe even culture. The second is how much I am able to handle all at once. This summer was exhausting – writing a giant paper, taking a class, working almost full time, and trying to explore a city all at once required a lot of time management and prioritization. Planning ahead was not a strength I had coming into this program but I realized it was essential. I even began to coin a new life phrase for myself that use daily: be the best past me for the best future me. To my mother’s delight, this also included making my bed in the morning.

As a part of the WAIP and DC experience, there was one word that was probably said more than any other: networking. There were many discussions on the essentials of networking and how many, if not nearly all, of the people we talked to were in their current positions because of networking. This aspect was crucial and transformative as I was able to hear from a variety of different people’s experiences of their career journeys. Prior to this experience, I may have believed that people entered a job and stayed with it. However, networking drew a different picture. This new landscape included many pitfalls, direction changes, further professional development and, you guessed it, networking. One woman I was able to talk to, and would now consider a mentor, discussed how she came into an internship position that was usually only offered to law students after just finishing her undergraduate career at Ohio State. This lead to her then becoming the Under Secretary of the Global Agriculture in the Obama administration by the age of 22. She addressed the importance of persistence and even offered me comforting words and advice about my “life narrative”.

This change is significant in my life because it continues to open the doors and allow me to discover more about myself. I was able to learn that I was more adaptable than I may have thought before but that I would also be a bit more futuristic in my planning. I learned the importance of diligence as well as being skeptical such as with the general perception of federal government workers. Because of these changes, I am able to recognize the importance of mentors that have helped me reach this point in my undergraduate career. I have begun to reconnect with those I had prior to or already at Ohio State and staying in touch with those back in DC. Further, I feel I am a better student. I am more organized and feel energized again about my future career. I see myself melding my strengths and interests in public policy and pharmacy to work as an advocate on behalf of pharmacy professionals and patients. Because of this program, I have a more clear view of a future career and the steps I need to take to get there.

Overall, this was an incredibly rewarding experience. I am not sure where I would be without it.

Nationwide Internship

Name: Jessica Roth

Type of Project: internship


My project was an internship with Nationwide insurance. I was an underwriting intern and I looked at 250 policies and found a 70% error rate. I also created a program in python, java, and VBA to assist in automated underwriting. I was able to analyze 4000 policies in under 2 hours which is unheard of for that department. I was also able to visit 28 business units and gain a holistic view of commercial insurance and how all of the departments interact with each other. I also served on the NICE committee and set up events for 300 interns in Columbus. I participated in a hackathon where we wrote code for an Alexa enabled meeting device


I really realized where my skill sets lie. I am really good at crunching numbers, but I am actually really good at seeing problems and offer solutions to companies. I think that after my internship I have a better idea of what my strengths and weaknesses are, and that I would like to go into business consulting. I realized that there was a lot of corruption within the organization and that they were using very bad data and wasting millions of dollars. They do not use enough technology because everyone in older generations is not as comfortable with it. What I did in 1 week would have taken my department 2-3 years to implement. Everything is very slow moving, and they do not have people that understand insurance and also technology. This really saddened me because they really didn’t want me to do any of the programming work because “it wasn’t my job!” but I had the skill set that was needed and it would really be a good thing for the company.


My internship was a roller coaster, every hour of my day I had some meeting. We visited 28 business units, this is even more than the CEO of nationwide has ever seen. I learned so much about the business and how it works at a basic level and a complex level. I asked questions, which seems like most people don’t. I got the bug eye look and comments, ”who are you and why are you asking that question?” as well as “because that’s the way we’ve always done it.” My supervisors were very impressed with all of my work, and at times I know I pushed a little too hard to implement more effective measures of business.

I also learned something very important about people. I was forced to work with another intern that was disrespectful and rude to me and other coworkers. He never did any work the entire summer and was sleeping during a time when the only thing we had to do was sit there and listen. I was appalled that someone like that would receive an internship at a fortune 100 company. Even after all of that and the managers knowing that he was lazy and did nothing he received a full time offer from the company. The lesson I learned here was that in corporate America as long as you know people and shake a lot of hands the quality and value of your work mean nothing. People, even in management roles, have slipped through on low quality work. It saddens me to think that hard work means a lot less to people in big businesses.


I now know that it isn’t just about me solving problems and doing really high quality work. If I want to get a job an advance, I need to network myself with people that can help me get there. Franklin, my supervisor, says, “your network is your net worth, and that’s why you visited 28 business units”. Life is a series of twists and turns and sometimes a lot of moving pieces have to happen for what you want to happen. For instance, to get a job that department has to be hiring, you have to be qualified, and you have to have someone that is willing to allocate on your behalf. Business is a rough world and you aren’t going to get along with everyone, some people are going to be lazy, but you can make something out of every situation, even if it is only a lesson.

Internship at the Wine and Spirits Wholesalers of America

This summer I worked as the government affairs intern at the Wine and Spirits Wholesalers of America (WSWA). WSWA is a trade association which represents over 300 wine and spirits wholesale companies before Congress, state governments, and the federal agencies.  WSWA advocates on behalf of American family owned businesses, working to make sure that the tax code treats such businesses fairly and that the regulatory system that has worked well for 80 years post-prohibition stays intact.  At this internship I assisted the government affairs team by supporting them in their work lobbying Members of Congress.  My duties included watching Congressional hearings related to WSWA priority issues, tracking legislation moving through Congress that affects WSWA member companies and their interests, as well as helping to administer WSWA’s political action committee and supporting WSWA’s political events by preparing tasting notes, sending wine to the right locations and other tasks.  In addition, s a part of the Glenn College’s Washington Academic Internship Program I also attended numerous policy salons where OSU alumni and friends of the university would come and share their experiences and study tours where I got to see inside very cool D.C. locations such as the Department of Transportation, Lockheed Martin’s office, and the State Department’s Bureau of Diplomatic Security

During my internship I learned a great deal and grew tremendously as a professional and a person. Going into my time in Washington, D.C. I did not know very much about the political process outside of the more formal, “textbook” process that you read about or see on the news. Being in the thick of it for a full summer of legislative action was truly incredible and made me understand why any action in government is inherently difficult.  At WSWA we worked to advance the interests of wine and spirits distributors throughout the country, and so I got to see firsthand how lobbyists work to advocate for their priorities with legislators.  Lobbying gets a bad name but in truth it mostly involves simple hard work more than any back-room dealings or shady maneuvering.  Lobbyists pound the pavement, getting meetings with staff on their priority committees, reading through legislation, attending hearings, and tracking legislation on key issues.  All of this challenged my assumptions about the field of lobbying and gave me great perspective and new knowledge.  In addition, I became a much better professional during my signature project.  The staff at WSWA were incredibly helpful and welcoming and from their example I became a harder worker and a better office worker, always finishing my tasks and helping out wherever possible.  Between my personal growth and the experience and knowledge I gained, my signature project was a real success.

The biggest factor in my growth and transformation this summer during my signature project were the people who took me under their wing to mentor me. I had the good fortune to be able to learn from an incredible boss at my internship, one of WSWA’s federal lobbyist named Ali who previously worked for Rep. Pat Tiberi and actually graduated from Ohio State University. She was so willing to teach me anything I needed to know about a particular task, or an issue area that I hadn’t encountered before, or even the lobbying profession in general, and this helped me grow so much in my knowledge and skills.  In addition to greatly aiding my growth as a professional, Ali always thought to bring me to activities outside of work which helped me grow as a networker and allowed me to experience the world of D.C. in its entirety, not just through the narrow lens of my internship.  Between her help at my internship and her willingness to go above and beyond to make my experience fulfilling outside of work, I very much was transformed by the help of Ali.

In addition, I had another mentor in D.C. who helped make my experience so transformational.  Through WAIP I was introduced to Jesse Walls who became my alumni mentor during my time in D.C.  Jesse works for the National Republican Congressional Committee, and he was incredibly helpful in showing me more of the political world while I was in D.C.  I got to know many people on Capitol Hill through Jesse and with his help I have discovered how great an opportunity it is to work in a Congressional office, which has heavily influenced my professional and career decisions going forward.  He also helped make my D.C. experience unforgettable by allowing me to go on a Capitol Dome tour with Rep. Steve Stivers, his boss at the NRCC, which was a truly a signature moment of the my STEP project.  So my experience was made to be transformational with the help of two great mentors who showed me the ways of D.C.

My transformational experience in D.C. will have a lasting impact on my life to come. Being in D.C. this summer has made me want to go back permanently after graduation, hopefully to work on Capitol Hill. I have learned so much about how great a career in Washington can be and that in itself has incredible value to my life to come.  But I also think that the skills and knowledge I gained from my time there will be valuable for years to come as I enter the professional world and I am required to exhibit these traits to gain employment and progress in my career.  So my transformational experience has given me the tools to succeed as I go forward in my professional journey and I think that is an incredibly valuable takeaway.

North Central Mental Health Services

STEP Reflection

Name: Josh Goldstein

Type of Project: Internship


Throughout my STEP Signature Project, I lived in Columbus, OH for the summer of 2017 while working at North Central Mental Health Services. I served as a Residential Care Worker, working in a group home and assisting mental health clients with their daily routines.

By working at NCMHS, I confirmed that I will be pursuing a career in mental health. My time studying Psychology at Ohio State led me to believe that this was the case, but working in the field has solidified my decision. Gaining hands-on experience at a mental health agency helped me realize how fulfilling helping people in need can be. While the work can be frustrating from time to time, the personal rewards make any temporary difficulties well worthwhile.

My time at NCMHS also reaffirmed my belief that people in need of assistance deserve access to the resources that allow them to reach their full potential. Specifically referring to the clients that I have worked with, having a mental illness did not prevent them from acquiring new skills and working towards gaining their independence. My clients required various levels of assistance with different tasks, but they all made progress towards effectively managing their mental condition and living a sustainably healthy lifestyle. I believe that, as a society, we need to continue to improve access to resources for those that are not yet capable of independently reaching their potential. Doing this will not only improve the lives of those in need of assistance, but also benefit society as these individuals become equipped to contribute to their communities.

One of the key aspects of my STEP Signature Project was the relationships that I built with my clients. After working in a group home with 11 clients, I had many opportunities to get to know each of them. It was very enjoyable to learn about who they all are and the things that they hope to accomplish at NCMHS. I found it very rewarding to see the progress that my clients made while I was working with them. Many of them became more proficient and independent in completing their chores, preparing food, and communicating effectively. Some of the clients expressed their gratitude for my help, and their thanks remains to be one of the highlights of my time at NCMHS. Most importantly, working with my clients instilled in me the belief that anyone can progress towards a goal, despite whatever obstacles they confront. Even with their mental illnesses, all of my clients worked towards accomplishing their goals. Watching this process unfold was pivotal in the strengthening of my belief that those who need assistance deserve access to the resources that allow them to reach their full potential.

Another aspect of my project was the relationships that I formed with my coworkers. Since the group home is double-staffed 24 hours a day, I had many opportunities to meet and work with new people. Some of my coworkers have been working in mental health for multiple decades, so their guidance was very valuable. Throughout my training, my coworkers provided me with the necessary information to maintain the group home and effectively interact with the clients. When questions came up throughout the summer, my coworkers were willing to help me sort things out. Having such a vast support network at NCMHS reaffirmed my belief that strong teamwork is necessary in any successful organization. Even though our relationships were very professional, I feel as though I made many friends while working at NCMHS. The time that I spent working with each of my coworkers was both enjoyable and informative.

The skills that I gained while working at NCMHS were also a key aspect of my STEP Signature Project. For example, I learned how to pass and log clients’ medication. This skill will be beneficial in a wide variety of healthcare-related settings. I also learned how to complete many forms of documentation. While working at a mental health agency, it is important to record many pieces of information while on the job. The activities that clients take part in, when clients leave the facility, the chores that clients and staff complete, and much more must be recorded. As a result of learning how to complete this documentation, I feel as though my organization skills improved tremendously. My communication skills also greatly improved throughout my time at NCMHS. After working with coworkers and clients who all have different communication styles, I have learned to understand others and express myself in various ways. I believe that these skills will be transferable to many work settings, and will serve me throughout the rest of my career.

This transformation is valuable for my life because it further motivates me to pursue my goal of becoming a Mental Health Counselor. While the work that I was doing this summer was very different than counseling, I believe that my experience working with mental health clients was very educational and will be applicable to my future work. The organization and communication skills that I improved while working at NCMHS will make me a much better counselor as well. As I apply to Counseling Masters Programs this fall, I can be very confident that I am making an educated career decision based on my passions and values. My time at NCMHS has also motivated me to apply what I have learned to my studies, and further pursue academic excellence throughout the rest of my Undergraduate education. This will be possible since I have hands-on experience to relate to the material that I will cover in my Psychology courses. I am excited to work towards my goal of becoming a Mental Health Counselor, and I look forward to seeing the ways that everything I learned at NCMHS helps me achieve that goal.

Disney College Program

I was a participant in the Disney College Program for my STEP Signature Project.  Through this, I worked at Walt Disney World for about six months.  I was placed as a Quick Service Food and Beverage Cast Member at Captain Cook’s in Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort.  Some of my duties included taking guests’ orders, cleaning up after guests, and preparing and serving food.  Through my experience, I learned some of the standards of one of the largest companies in the world.

This program helped me grow as an individual.  One of the greatest things about this experience is that I was able to meet others from all over the world.  Some of my best friends in the program were from Spain, France, Puerto Rico, Canada, Mexico, and many other places.  I have never left the country and personally didn’t have many interactions with people from different countries.  This experience allowed me to learn about many different cultures and practices of all over the world.  Also, since Walt Disney World is such a large and well known place, it attracted guests from all over the world.  This allowed me to expand my knowledge of people from different places.

I have a few personal experiences that stand out in my mind about this program.  The first interaction that stands out is meeting Florence.  She was one of the International College Program participants.  She started working at my location around April 2017.  One of the most interesting things I found out about her is that she was from Paris, France.  I had never met anyone from France before or learned about the culture.  I immediately started to ask her questions and learn the similarities and differences between our upbringings.  For the most part we seemed to have similar childhoods.  We grew up in a household where our parents both worked.  We started school around five years old.  We both were on our school’s swim team.  But, when we started talking about secondary schooling, our opportunities seemed to differ.  Florence was told which school to go to from a younger age due to her track in school.  This track was determined by her academic potential.  This was very different to me because choosing which school to go to was one of the biggest milestones I have had to face in my life so far.  Florence didn’t have a choice as her secondary school was linked to her high school.  I thought this was very interesting because in the United States individuals have the opportunity to go to many schools if they meet the qualifications.  Florence taught me so much about France that I had never known before and she has encouraged me to take a trip there someday.

This is Florence and me on her last day of work.

Another experience that sticks out in my mind is working with Theomene.  Working at Disney gave me the opportunity to not only be introduced to people of different cultures, but also of different ages.  Theomene was one of our stewardesses at Captain Cook’s.  Now, I usually worked the night shift, starting work around 3 or 4 in the afternoon and leaving as late as 1:30 in the morning.  This allowed me to get to know many of the other people who worked in the evenings.  For my first couple of weeks I just observed Theomene.  When our restaurant closed around 11, I watched all of the cast members load all of the dishes onto carts for Theomene to wash.  She would clean them thoroughly, load them onto the machine, and unload them to be put away.  As I observed, I saw no one interacting with her.  I didn’t see anyone tell her thank you, or even just tell her hello.  I told myself that I was going to change that.  So, I started talking with Theomene.  At first, I just introduced myself and told her my name.  She smiled at me and said hello.  Then, every time I would bring her a dirty dish I would make sure to say hello and ask her a question.  I quickly learned about her family.  Theomene was 68 years old.  She emigrated from Haiti to try to get a better life for her family.  I asked her why she was working at the age of 68 and she told me that she had to in order to pay for her daughter’s school.  When she told me this I had to hold back my tears.  This poor woman works so hard every night making minimum wage because she loves her daughter so much and just wants her to be able to get through school.  This experience opened up my eyes.  It made me want to be able to help these people as much as I could.  I am still trying to figure out what I could do in the future to help these people.  When it came time for my program to end, I told Theomene that I was going back to Ohio to finish up school.  She looked up at me and said, “Kayla, you have been one of my only friends here.  You are the only one who is nice to me and talks to me.  I will really miss you.”  I gave Theomene a big hug and started to cry.  I will never forget this woman.  She has truly touched my life forever.

This is Theomene and me on my last day of work.

The final person who greatly impacted me was Jacob. He was one of my coordinators at Captain Cook’s.  His job was to make sure all of his cast members were doing well and that everything was running smoothly.  One of my main reasons for going on the college program is that I didn’t know what I wanted to do as a career.  I did know, however, that one of my dreams was to work at Walt Disney World.  Jacob was a participant of the Disney College Program a few years earlier, and he had slowly worked his way up and received a few promotions.  Jacob gave me advice on how I could advance in my future opportunities with Disney.  During my program, Jacob was going through the process of becoming a leader or manager within the company.  He told me the different things he had to do as far as applying and interviewing for a position.  One of the biggest tips of advice he gave me is to develop a network of people who will let you know if there is a position opening in certain departments.  A few weeks before my program ended, Jacob received news that he was going to become a leader in Quick Service Food and Beverage somewhere in Walt Disney World.  Jacob gave me so many pieces of valuable information that I now have if I ever decide to return to the company.


This is Jacob and me on my last day of work.

This change has been extremely significant in my life.  It gave me an opportunity to meet people from so many different walks of life that I might not have ever met otherwise.  Florence taught me so many things about France.  We developed a lasting friendship.  If I had not done this program, I would’ve never met her.  Theomene opened my eyes up to a different culture.  She showed me what it means to work hard and to truly love others.  I have grown personally through both of these as I believe I will be able to live my life as a better individual.  Jacob was able to help me with my professional goals and future plans.  He showed me different opportunities and ways I could progress through The Walt Disney Company.  This program has opened many doors that were once closed.  It has provided me with tools that I can use in the future.  I am forever grateful for this opportunity and I am changed because of it.

Washington Academic Internship Program (WAIP)

This summer I was lucky enough to participate in the Washington Academic Internship Program (WAIP) through the John Glenn College of Public Affairs. I interned for The Ohio State University Federal Relations Office, under the direction of the head lobbyists for the University. I was given the opportunity to help prepare notes and summaries of relevant congressional events, compile crucial contact lists and daily notes, and even attend meetings with congressional staff.

WAIP was particularly beneficial for my growth individually as well as my understanding of how our government functions. First, I was able to take significant strides in developing the skills and mentality it takes to succeed professionally. I must admit that, while I always considered myself a good student I would also tend to procrastinate and stay up until very unhealthy hours. As I was always able to complete my work and maintain a high level of success this was not an issue. Participating in this internship program however let me to completely rethink this idea. Staying up past 1 am when you had to go work a 9-5 job takes a toll on your mental state. Moreover, since there is a 20 page policy paper academic component, procrastination is not a real option. I had to redefine how I completed much of my work and make sure that everything was done on time and that therefore I could more easily enjoy my days.
In addition, I gained a greater understanding of just how the government works and why it seems to be so frustrating. I must admit, I was someone who would readily criticize the government and its congressional officials for how little work they do, often complaining that this Washington elites did not truly care about me. I cannot stress enough just how wrong I was, especially about the representatives we have here in Ohio. Actually, having the opportunity to listen to projects that many congressional officials were working on that the media often didn’t have time to cover gave me a far greater understanding of just how hard so many people are working every day to try and make a difference. This isn’t to say the problems I mentioned earlier don’t exist, but it is hard not recognize the work that goes in when you see very intelligent Alumnae and peers working long hours for people they believe in.

I could write entire essays on the events that helped to shape this growth, but for the purposes of this blog I will focus on the policy salons and study tours we participated in, the balancing of personal wellness, work, and class, and interactions with the Federal Relations Staff, Stan, Bill, and Jessica. The policy salons and study tours we participated in were essentially opportunities we were given to work with former Ohio State Alums and see various areas of DC. We had former Buckeyes discuss topics ranging from public speaking to the purposes of the Department of State, and were able to meet incredible people such as Holocaust Survivor Bob Behr and Secretary of Defense John Mattis. These kinds of meetings really helped with the enhanced understanding of just how hard so many smart and incredible people work to give us the governance we have. Meeting public officials and seeing how genuinely interested they are in teaching young students was pleasantly surprising. In addition, everyone was extremely passionate about their field, whether that was working in the Archives, Department of Transportation, or Diplomatic Security office. Seeing the kind of passion so many people, many of them program mentors, was encouraging and helped me realize the importance of finding something I care deeply about.
In addition, I sharpened my skills regarding ensuring work is completed efficiently and in a timely manner. WAIP was certainly not easy, and one of the hardest aspects was balancing my internship with class and my policy analysis essay. I had to really make sure I utilized my free time when I had it, as the free time in DC was significantly less than my free time in Columbus. I wasn’t quite used to that, but was able to adapt fairly quickly. In many ways this has already carried over to this semester, I’ve noticed a willingness to start my days earlier and stay ahead of my assignments.
I would also be remised if I did not discuss the importance that those who worked in the Federal Relations Office played in my growth. My boss Stan helped teach me how he manages to be successful and it was incredible help him prepare and watch him interact in meetings. My other boss Bill was always willing to explain what was going on and walk me through situations that I maybe found difficult. Jessica taught me the importance of maintaining an organized structure and knowing my schedule. Together, I found myself slowly but surely learning how to interact successfully in the real world. In many ways, this was my first “real” job, at least in the traditional sense, and reflecting back its incredible just how much I didn’t know. Overall the combination of these experiences has helped me grow in ways I never expected.

Finally, I’d like to take a minute and explain just why this development has been so important for me. I have been very cognizant of the fact that I will need to apply and get a job very soon, college won’t last forever. Without this experience, I can honestly say that I wouldn’t be nearly as prepared to have success. I now know what to expect and I have the confidence that I will be able to handle the rigors of the workforce. Personally, I have found my habits to be changing. I’ve taken more initiative to get my work done first, placed a greater emphasis on making sure I get my sleep, and have started my days earlier. It’s strange but also exciting, and in so many ways its thanks to the combination of WAIP and STEP.

By. Brandon Hofacker