Project Management at Kroger Co

My STEP Signature Project was a summer internship as a Project Manager at the Kroger Co., the second-largest generael retailer in the US. I specialized in minor capital construction projects (under $10M in costs), which included departmental remodels, value engineered store remodels, and miscellaneous equipment updates, rollouts, and replacements. I managed a total of 8 projects within a budget of $500,000 to $800,000 from the planning, estimating, and construction phases of development.

I’m not sure if my entire world was shattered and re-orientated during my stint at Kroger, but I have a new appreciation for a variety of systems, processes, and concepts.

At the surface, my internship was a crash course on the construction process. My knowledge of codes and zoning regulations, MEP (mechanical, electrical, plumbing) terminology and best practices, construction costs and scheduling nightmares, and of professional responsibilities and communications has greatly expanded. I’m not afraid to declare that I *know* how a building is constructed. As an aspiring architect this knowledge allows me to design quickly/efficiently so that my concepts can be translated into my construction techniques, structures, materials, etc.

I have also developed a curiosity regarding the change in consumer behavioral patterns, and how these changes affect the built environment of the grocery store as well as the culture of management/employees that work in these establishments. It’s generally agreed upon that first to master home grocery delivery will, for lack of a better term, win – which meant that Amazon’s purchase of Whole Food caused a stir. The existing delivery infrastructure will set Amazon apart from its newly acquired traditional grocer competition. However, stores that are a part of the Kroger enterprise have a unique advantage –  they provide space for a public forum. Unlike our superior urban planning ancestors, Americans never quite got the hang of creating public spaces for communication, intermingling, for social behaviors to function. Kroger receives the smallest profit margin for goods sold in deli/bakery departments, yet I spent all summer working on remodeling and expanding these departments. The emphasis is on encouraging the consumer to spend longer periods of time in the store, to sit and eat, to people watch and mingle, and hopefully, spend more money. The transition from grocery store to market with ready made foods and fresh goods and public forum will continue, and ideally, be equally profitable and equitable to the more insular home delivery.

Arguably, throughout this process I’ve learned one of the most important lessons –  the value of relationships. Not the false pretenses we make in the name of networking, but the genuine exchange of ideas, cultures, and knowledge. When you ask someone how they feel/how they’re doing, you should value their response. You should not speak to someone just to gain an opportunity to speak about you, but to listen and learn from them.

I was lucky to participate in an event where I was able to have lunch with Rodney McMullen, the current CEO of Kroger. I generally remember him as kind, but I was struck when he took the time to speak with us architects and engineers to ask about the future of energy efficiency and sustainability best practices. He paused to ask us what we thought, despite our professional inexperience. He may not remember us, but small, genuine interactions such as this one are something we can all learn. We’ve all heard the subtle threat that “it’s all about who you know,” but it’s up to you as an individual to curate, develop, and value relationships. Your abstract, soft skills will set your apart from your counterparts, especially when you’ve reached the top of your technical field.

My new found knowledge of construction, curiosity of the effects of technology and social functions as they exist within a grocery store, and my firm belief in the values of genuine relationships have provided me with a base level of technical skills, research interest, and methodology for social fulfillment. The latter two items are not ones that I entered my internship searching for, nor ones I expected to learn. I am grateful for the opportunity I received with this company, and highly recommend other students interested in developing management skills or their construction knowledge to engage with Kroger Co.

-Alex Oetzel


Left to Right: Alex Oetzel, Rodney McMullen, Kristin Campbell

National Museum of Natural History Internship

My STEP project was an internship at the Smithsonian Institute’s National Museum of Natural History (NMNH).  I worked on an independent project about digital interactives in museums with the Office of Exhibits.

By completing my STEP project, I learned more about the behind-the-scenes work that goes into museums and the possible careers I could get with my major and experience.  I was previously interested in museum work, but didn’t know of all the positions that were available in the field. After completing my internship, I’ve changed my understanding of my interests and my possible career paths. I was also exposed to people with many different backgrounds and cultures. This didn’t necessarily change my world view, but excited me about the possibilities of meeting new people and traveling with work.

I have never considered the idea of working in the exhibits portion of a museum.  Meeting the exhibits department helped me realize that there is a huge diversity of skills in the department.  I met graphic designers, sculptures, researchers, programmers, educators and more.  It was eye opening to see all the planning and work that goes into creating the exhibits, and I would now consider it as a career path.

The main aspect of my internship that led to a transformation was not my internship project, but the many people I met.  My advisor, Junko, encouraged me to not only complete my project, but to meet and talk to as many people as I could during my time there.  I was able to sign up for intern tours and workshops, where I could experience more of the museum.  I met or took a tour with each of the major departments in the museum, which helped me better understand what aspects of natural history I was attracted to.

I was lucky enough to get a private tour with the Collections Manager of Fishes, Lisa Palmer.  She explained to me the day-to-day work that she does to manage her collection.  I explained to her that I often like more broad topics than specific research questions, and she suggested learning more about Collection Management, since curation often includes independent research.  She offered to have me as an intern anytime in the future, which encouraged me to volunteer with the OSU Museum of Biological Diversity, where I helped catalogue fish collected from the EPA.

My favorite department in NMNH was entomology, which piqued my interest in a bug pinning workshop.  There, I learned the basics of insect pinning and pointing and ultimately led me to a lab assistant job, here at OSU’s entomology department.  I was grateful for the experience at the museum, because it’s not a skill I would’ve been exposed to anywhere else.  Although I am not an entomology major, the lab considered me for the position because I had experience with the entomology department at the natural history Smithsonian.  I still work at this lab and am considering the possibilities of a full-time job in this field.

This project was extremely valuable to me in shaping my academic and professional goals.  I made sure to ask everyone I met what their academic background was and how they got to their position.  This helped me understand what types of degrees and experience I would need if I wanted to continue following a career path in a museum setting.  The internship led me to volunteer and get connected with OSU’s Museum of Biological Diversity and get a job as a research assistant in an Entomology lab.  This will hopefully prepare me for a career in a natural history museum.

On a more personal level, I found that although I enjoy the Smithsonian Institute, I don’t want to live in Washington D.C. This will help me plan for future living arrangements and narrow which museums I would like to work at. I also learned that I really enjoyed the environment of a museum.  It was great to meet people who were so passionate about their career.  Although each researcher had a very specific topic they were experts on, everyone was interested and excited about each other’s work. I am interested in all aspects of natural history and love the idea of being in an environment where I can constantly learn from others.



Defense Finance and Accounting Internship: Columbus, OH

For my STEP signature project, I decided to do an internship at the Defense Finance and Accounting Service to continue my professional development and hone my skills in a workplace setting. I believed it would clarify what I want to do in the future. I always wanted to work for the government and try out public service, so this was the perfect opportunity.

The internship did not disappoint; over the course of my 12 weeks, I worked on 3 projects for my department and collaborated with other interns and full-time coworkers from around my floor. I was challenged to work autonomously with little direction, which was frustrating at times but also rewarding. Normally, I am the type of person to shy away from ambiguous and lofty projects, but I had no choice in the matter. My supervisor had devised and divided a lengthy project for us interns that took about a month and a half to complete. While I have done group work and presentations in the classroom setting, I have never tackled such a time consuming endeavor. I was challenged to manage my time well day to day. Although my supervisor made sure we were equipped with contacts, we were entirely responsible for creating our own deadlines, collaborating, and reporting back with updates. Me, not being the most timely or organized person, had to apply self-discipline to get all of my tasks done—amidst all of our departmental work, we also had internship meetings and projects on top of our other responsibilities.

Another huge part of the internship was collaborating and working with other students as well as employees to achieve my goals. I gained prior experience with collaborating through my student organizations and on–campus. This differed in that I was not familiar with they types of accounting the technicians or the analysts did. In fact, I have little working knowledge around accounting that I felt lost at times. This was a big challenge to overcome because I usually feel confident in my knowledge and use it to apply to what I do. Without it I had to learn to be resourceful and learn as I do. I much prefer to see the big picture and then understand my role, but that was not the case. I had to learn each individual piece and then create a picture of the larger process because others did not know either.

The iControl project that other interns and myself worked on was given to us by our supervisor, Asia. While Asia was enthusiastic and supportive during the project, she allowed us free reign. She described the project as an analysis of processes used by the department, and we were to simplify, consolidate, and eliminate processes where we saw fit. We were also supposed to create a deployment plan to implement the changes and help rectify the communication gap among the department constituent groups. To start, we began by reaching out to staff related to our processes. We individually took on about six to seven, and came back to share with the group. Some employees were eager to speak with us about what they did, while others took much prodding to get any response. Unfortunately, all types of work involve engaging and disengaging folks. What was difficult was trying to understand each process from just a twenty to thirty minute meeting. Seasoned employees would whip through the process quickly with little to no explanation. Often they did not even understand how the department functioned as a whole and how they contributed to the bigger picture.

This was challenging for me because I was not used to interacting with people who did not have the answer. I could only learn as much as I could from the staff, and ask questions, but often no one knew the full and complete details. In school, your goal is often to find an answer, one that exists and is known. In this case, there is a problem that is known—disengagement from work and DFAS’s mission—but there is not a solution to changing the culture around the office, nor can you force people to understand. After getting a sense of the complicated processes and nature of the department, I initiated a meeting with the five of the interns to debrief. We focused on each process and what could be done to simplify them, but too tackle such a large issue with communication we had to consider things longer. We determined that the disenchantment was from many places: lack of consistent training and resources, reluctance or inability to transition to newer and more intuitive systems, or lack of purpose and drive. All these factors contributed to individuals’ frustration or apathy to work. Without a culture that nurtures the person, you cannot promote creativity, collaboration, and well-being.

We thought of ways to improve each of these pitfalls. To help, we uploaded documents into a never-used-before repository so everyone had free access to their job aids: documents that outline the duties and step-by-step process. We also created unique summary documents to simply and ease everyone’s understanding of their job. This way, employees may find it easier to connect their job back to the bigger mission of serving our country’s military. The process outlines provided guidance to navigating the otherwise complicated and antiquated systems, some from the 80s. While these resources would be a great help to those looking for more information, we could do nothing to inspire the apathetic ones. Even with more resources some people would just not care. This was hard to see, because short of hiring all new employees, changing something as entrenched as “workplace culture” is impossible. This really gives credence to companies that have good workplace cultures that encourage and motivate their employees. Having a purpose and drive to accomplish something is essential to any firm’s success in meeting their goals.

I also had another project where I pulled reports from an Oracle based database to find useful information for others to use. While it seemed easy—find all relevant information, and filter based on needs—it was not that simple. The system was finicky at best, and would often result in an error. This was probably the most infuriating part of my internship because no one knew how to navigate this system. No one knew what kind of information was inside the database or how the information was put into it. Though there was someone assigned the title “Subject Matter Expert,” the truth was everyone was faking it until they made it. With little to no help from anyone, we interns were left to our own devices of trial and error. I personally do not enjoy trial and error. I like having a methodical approach to solving a problem. But at the end of the day, there is not always a straightforward solution. Often a solution only arises from a steady mix of different approaches, and eventually one emerges. With time and much effort, my report worked. When I delivered the product to the other employees, they were ecstatic that there was a solution to solve their complicated workload. It was rewarding to see that I made an impact on those around me, whether the impact was big or small. Sometimes projects will be more complicated than any one person can explain, and it takes collaborative effort to clarify and realize results.

I had a third project that was finding customer information from other organizations under the Department of Defense. We coalesced our research into a PowerPoint for training purposes for other new employees. Being so busy, there were days I would have a full schedule from the morning to the afternoon, and then days where I had no meetings. With the cyclic flow of work and appointments, I had to look into the future to see when I would need to work on iControl or Oracle while leaving time to work on my internship project. To do this, I kept track of a checklist for the day, and managed my calendar via Outlook Calendar. It was my first time using this application, but it proved helpful and easy to use. I can take away that ease of use and apply it to the busy schedule I have here at school and in my future career. I also used checklists to prioritize my day and to be productive during my time there.

Outside of just the work, I also made close ties with other interns. I did not particularly think I would meet lasting relationships, but I met really great people. These individuals challenged me to get out of my comfort zone, and to converse in new and thoughtful ways. At my time at OSU, I have engaged with many diversity initiatives and programs. Going from Ohio State to DFAS, the number of people of color I saw day to day dramatically decreased. Many of the other interns had limited experience with issues, and I helped provide a new perspective and new information to the conversation. I embrace diversity and try to foster it wherever I am, so I did just that. I challenged the status quo, spoke to colleagues about issues, and did not shy from difficult conversations. Surprisingly I engaged with many people I would consider friends, whose thoughtfulness I can appreciate.

This internship has helped me develop professionally and socially in a number of ways. It has provided me with the practice of professional networking. Through talking with my supervisor, coworkers, and other interns, I have gained many useful relationships. I learned how to have workplace conversations that vary in the breadth of topic. Working for DFAS, I realized how much workplace culture matters. As I said before, the culture drives motivations, which drives results. To have a successful team, you have to create a place where everyone can contribute. Becoming more organized will help me in whatever I choose to do, both in my immediate future as well as my long-term future. With these newfound skills, I will be more productive and aware of the priorities. Generally, my exposure to public service shows me the necessity of such an establishment. Although stereotypes of government are out there, I truly believe the government offers a unique position to help others. Although there are absolutely inefficiencies—I saw many— the government benefits the people in the long run. After this internship I have clarified my goals. I now know that I must have a job where I feel like what I do matters. I want to see the impact of the work I do, and meet the folks I am contributing to. I believe the public service will help me accomplish these goals. I know I would like to pursue more education, possibly in public policy and later a PhD. I am still not sure how much longer I will be in school, but I will make sure my time is utilized maximally for the most positive impact.

Cargill Cocoa & Chocolate Internship: Milwaukee, WI

Nick and Tom after our chocolate innovation presentation!

This summer I interned at Cargill Cocoa and Chocolate in Milwaukee, WI in the Research and Development Department. I had the opportunity to select my own project and I chose to redesign the Research and Development Lab at the plant in Milwaukee. Albeit this major project, I also had the opportunity to learn the science behind chocolate production, conduct my own sensory panels, attend numerous chocolate focused trainings, assist with chocolate innovations for Cargill customers, and much more!

The most important outcome of my internship this summer was that I can now confidently say that I love my undergraduate degree, Food Engineering. Coming into Ohio State, I debated whether I wanted to major in Food Engineering, Food Science, or Chemical Engineering. I selected Food Engineering because I thought it would encompass my passion for cooking and love for the sciences. This internship aroused and manifested those passions beyond my expectations. On a daily basis, I had the opportunity to get creative with chocolate—I helped my fellow R&D coworkers create unique chocolate products for Cargill’s customers. In addition, I went on several tours of the entire chocolate plant and saw how massive feats of engineering within chocolate production equipment have transformed primitive artisanal chocolate production of the early 1800s into a large-scale production system of the 21st century that can meet the demands of customers across the globe. Food engineers cannot enhance the production system with engineering technology and models if they do not have an intimate understanding of the food science behind the product line they are working with. I now know that in my future career I will learn food science on the job which will allow me to use my engineering knowledge to enhance the efficiency and technology of the larger production system.

Another takeaway of my internship this summer was that I learned building strong relationships with the people you work with can transform your work experience. In general, I always try to be an outgoing and sociable person, no matter what the situation may be; this summer those character qualities enhanced my work experience beyond anything I could have ever imagined. I worked with four chocolate lab technicians (Hannah, Melissa, Nick, and Armando), two technical service team members (Tom and Fatemah), and, of course, my boss (Wyatt). I built amazing relationships with these people and took the time to learn about their lives inside and outside of work. Hannah and Melissa are relatively new to Cargill as they are recent college graduates and they gave me great advice about my future as I seek to finish my college education. We also had great fun in the lab, usually taking turns being DJs with our lab music speaker, so we could whistle and dance while we worked. Nick has had more experience, serving as a senior food scientist at a large ingredient company before coming to Cargill. He taught me the difference between astringency and bitterness during a taste test, while also sharing his advice about my plans for graduate school. Armando is an amazing chocolatier and he has such passion for his work. We frequently talked about life while making chocolate and I learned that he is a Christian just like me. Armando taught me how to be a Christian light in the workplace in a subtle way that can change the lives of people around you. My boss, Wyatt, was definitely not the type of boss I expected to have, nor was I too excited about learning I was to share a cubicle with him at the office. We built a great relationship and I learned all about his family; he even asked me to cat/house sit for him three times over the course of the summer!

Furthermore, I also learned that you should not hold preconceived notions of a city until you actually live or visit there. As a Kentucky proud southerner, I was somewhat wary of living in Milwaukee a city that is farther north than I have ever lived. Surprisingly, Milwaukee was beautiful in the summer (but the winter might be another story). I took the opportunity to explore every “nook and cranny” of the city. I attended a Brewer’s Baseball game at Miller Park. Miller Park is an interesting baseball stadium because it has a retractable roof. In fact, during the game I attended, the roof was put across the stadium in preparation for a coming storm. Milwaukee is located directly on Lake Michigan which brings so much activity to the lakefront, including beach volleyball, kite festivals, ethnic festivals, sunrise yoga, and much more! During the summer, Milwaukee has multiple festivals every weekend and my favorite festival was Strawberry Fest where I enjoyed numerous chocolate covered strawberries. Finally, Milwaukee loves art and this love speaks volumes through its spectacular art museum. The museum is modeled after an airplane and its “wings” rise and fall twice a day. As a result of my experiences in Milwaukee, I have learned to not hold assumptions against a city until I have explored all it has to offer.

I cannot begin to quantify how valuable my internship with Cargill Cocoa and Chocolate has been to my life. This was my first internship in a major food production facility and I was quite nervous at the beginning because I was questioning whether food engineering was the right career path for me; this internship conquered my nerves and showed me that food engineering is where I belong! In addition, recently I have noticed how some of my friends and family have been unhappy in their career situation; this observation has caused me to question whether I can find a job after graduation that incites a deep passion within me. This internship provided an answer to this question: you can find a job or career path that motivates you and makes you happy. I am glad to have experienced that happiness because I know it will help me as I continue to plan my future.

Ohio History Connection

At my internship at the Ohio History Connection, I worked in the Human Resources and Volunteer office. One of my main duties was to seek out donations for Volunteer Week so that my boss, the manager of the Volunteer office, had something nice to give the volunteers each day of that week. My other major activity was to find entertainment and food options for the end of the year Volunteer Appreciation Banquet. I looked up social events so the volunteers had options to do something outside of their volunteering jobs. I also did some filing off the computer and data entry on the computer.

Before doing my internship I didn’t have any first hand experience working in the Human Resources field. I assumed that I would enjoy working in any office job. My thought process was that I would be content in any office position because I enjoy stability and low stress environments. This internship was an office job and low stress; there were no competitive employees, in fact I just shared one room with my supervisor. However, while completing my STEP Project, I learned a lot about myself and what I need in a career. I now know that I need to be around other people while I’m at a job. My internship was 10 – 3 and I had work to do everyday but I found myself getting antsy.

One key interaction and relationship that I encountered in my internship led to this realization. I only had one other person in the room – my supervisor – to talk to and bounce ideas off of. I found myself comparing it to the job I have at the Union, where I work with other students. I had this job over the summer as well. We get a great amount of work done but we do it while talking and feeding off each other’s energy. I never thought of myself as someone who needed many people around me but I now realize that I do need people around me to keep me going during the work day. The only time that I got to see other people during my internship was during lunch breaks. I didn’t get to really build a relationship with anyone other than my supervisor because we were only in her office for a majority of the day. This is important because now I know another requirement of my future career.

During my internship I had the opportunity to experience a whole new work environment. I experienced a commute that was about 10 to 15 minutes by car, which I have never had to do before to get to a job. Before my internship in college, I had only worked and volunteered on campus, which is only maximum a 10 or 15 minute walk. My previous internship was only a 10 minute bus ride away. The car commute was very different and not something that I thought would be a hassle. With the Ohio State Fair and other things blocking the roadway to my internship, I had to find ways to get around it. I’ve learned that the commute is something that I have to take into consideration.

STEP also helped me with rent. This summer was the first summer that I stayed in Columbus and additionally, the first summer that I stayed with my 5 roommates not during the school year. This was another aspect of my life that was really altered. Firstly, I came to the realization that Columbus is somewhere that I could see myself living long term. Secondly, I realized that as long as I pick the right people to live with, I am perfectly fine, and ever prefer living with roommates. This was something that really surprised me.

Some of the activities that led to this transformation was all the events that happened in Columbus over the summer. I have always enjoyed the events that happen at Ohio State on campus during the school year and make an effort to go. But the events in Columbus made me realize that I can have that experience in a city as well and I don’t have to stop going to events when I graduate. In this way, I realized that a city can have just as much to offer. This development is valuable because now I know what kind of place I would like to live in. Before this summer I thought I would be happy living in a suburb even if it wasn’t close to a city. Now I know I need to live in a place, possibly still a suburb, that that has cultural activities and fun events to attend, at least while I’m in my 20s.

On the roommate side of things, I have always seen myself as an introvert and I was initially concerned that I would be overwhelmed by the amount of people living with me. I wasn’t overwhelmed during the school year but I was worried because during the summer we didn’t have classes and clubs to go to. However, I found myself really loving living with my roommates during the summer as well. Even though we all had different schedules, we found time to talk with each other in the evenings. I realized that roommates are an experience that I wouldn’t want to go without. Now I think I actually would prefer living with a friend as a roommate rather than alone, because I would like someone to come home to and talk with in the evenings. This was really significant in my personal life and future plans because now I know what kind of living plans I prefer. Before I thought I would like to live alone.


Nationwide Insurance 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.

LexisNexis Hong Kong Internship

My STEP signature project was an internship with a company called LexisNexis in Hong Kong, China. LexisNexis is a company that works as a legal research platform and content provider. I worked side by side with the Head of Strategy for the Greater China Region for the summer. Of course, this also gave me the opportunity to explore Hong Kong and meet many incredible people along the way.

Dragon’s Back Trail overlooking Shek O Beach

Before leaving to Hong Kong I had heard over and over from family and friends to be prepared for a difficult adjustment period overseas, especially since this would be my first time ever leaving North America. I had been preparing myself for a great deal of culture shocks in many aspects of life, from food and living style, to simple social interactions with the locals. It was apparent to me that there would be certain difficulties that would come with immersing myself in a foreign culture, but, I was up to the challenge. However, much to my own surprise, the adjustment was virtually painless. I had felt right at home almost from the moment of leaving the airport. Much of this, I am sure, I owe to the wonderful advisors that were our points of contact while in Hong Kong, who did a fantastic job of explaining to us what to expect and how to best mesh with the native population. Part of it is also likely owed to the general ambiance and beauty of Hong Kong, with incredible sights to see everywhere you turn your head, from skyscrapers whose hectic light shows filled the sky every night, to the mysterious fog-laden mountains that overlooked the cities, it was difficult not to be enamored by all aspects of this new setting I had found myself in. Paradoxically enough however, what makes Hong Kong truly special is something that every city in the world has: its people. The Hong Kongers are undoubtedly what made the transition to living in the city so smooth. There is an intense and infectious sense of pride in their city that you get when talking with the people in Hong Kong. I was shocked to find how welcomed I felt in the city, as well as by how many locals were excited to hear about my experiences and share their own. Because of the kindness and generosity I experienced from the people there, the previous worries I had had about being able to fit in with the culture in Hong Kong were wiped away in an instant. This helped me learn a lot about what it is like to have to adjust to a place that is completely foreign to me, and at the same time realize that no matter where I am in the world, the people I meet can make it seem like home.

The very first person I met in Hong Kong was one of our in country contacts Mengxi. As you can probably imagine, after touching down from the 16 hour plane ride I was a little exhausted. Although the fatigue quickly gave way to the excitement of finally arriving in Hong Kong as well as the anticipation of the days and weeks to come, there was still a great deal of nervousness I felt. Thankfully, Mengxi was perfectly prepared to provide all of the relief me and the other OSU students who met with us at the rally location needed. As we traveled in the airport shuttle to the hotel we would be living in for the next two months we got the perfect introduction to the strange new city we found ourselves in. My eyes were glued to the windows taking in all of the incredible sights to see while Mengxi answered many of the pressing questions that were on our minds and gave us a great deal of information that would prove to be very useful to us. But more than anything, what I felt Mengxi was able to provide for us on that inaugural ride into the city was a sense of comfort that had been missing in the prelude to the trip. For many months I had been bombarded with questions, from myself and others, about how I would handle certain a hypothetical, or how various things in the city worked. For so long there were many question marks for me about this trip that created a sort of black cloud of uncertainty that marred much of it for me, and this ride into the city was the first of many beams of sunlight to shine through it.

The most frequent re occurrence for me in my time in Hong Kong was the work that I was doing. Five days a week, 8:30 AM to 5:30 PM I would find myself sitting in the same chair in the same office in a building in Wan Chai. While this may sound bleak to some, for me it represented a soothing consistency in what was otherwise an absolute whirlwind of activity. Certainly it helped that I was able to do important and fulfilling work with wonderful people. Specifically my boss Marina Kwok made me feel extremely comfortable in what was an entirely foreign situation for me (this was my first time working in a large corporate environment). She and all of the other members of the office made me feel at home in their work environment, which I am extremely grateful for. The work I was able to do while working there was not only relevant to my goals for my career, but also was very fulfilling in the sense that I was not just given busy work to keep me occupied, but instead was given important tasks, and could actually see the impact that my work was making in the company.

The work crew

However, the most critical group of people I met while in Hong Kong, and the ones who I spent the most time with, were my fellow Americans from universities all around the USA. They were all fantastic people (even the Michigan kids) and I had an incredible time sharing this great experience with all of them. Their presence there was so helpful, as we were all able to relate own individual experiences with each other and not feel so out of place in this strange new land. They were some great partners to go on adventures with, both in the city and outside of it, and although I was only able to be with them for a short amount of time, I made many great friendships.

Fellow GAV interns

Now that the experience is in the past and I am able to look at it in retrospect, it is awesome to me how much I had learned and how much I have as a result of this experience. I can already tell it will be one of my fondest memories for a long time to come. The biggest takeaway I believe I gained from this trip, especially considering the uncertainty going into that I was feeling, was simply that no matter where you go in the world people really aren’t all that different. There will always be ample opportunity for you to make friends and grow as a person no matter where you find yourself, and with that in mind there is no reason to fear anything that comes ahead. I feel this attitude will help me greatly in the years to come as the onset of career quickly approaches and many unknown challenges and opportunities lie ahead.

JP Morgan Chase Internship

Danielle Chickerella


I interned at JP Morgan Chase this summer in the audit department. I engaged in client meetings, documented testing, participated in weekly trainings and line of business overviews, and presented a case study to the general auditor as a final project.

Personally, I learned that you can be trained to do anything. You don’t need to be a 4.0 student and be at the top of your class to be good at a real life job. It is all about how you can communicate with others, pay attention to detail, and get your work done efficiently. Classes definitely help you become more prepared, however the real world looks more at your personality and motivation to do work well. Regarding my view of the world, I realized what a normal 40 hour work week is life and how hard people work and care about their jobs. People are way more approachable and personable in the business world than most think in college. Because in fact, we are all humans.

I worked closely with an assigned coach and she became my mentor for the summer. She showed me how to do almost everything and gave me her work as a good example for me to go off of. She showed me what I hope to become after I graduate college. I also became very close to the other interns in my department, which was helpful to talk to people my own age about the job. We traveled to New York City twice together for training and presentations, which brought us closer and allowed us to experience a new, busy culture.

My team welcomed me with open arms and I felt like I had been a part of the team for years. My manager gave me career advice in regard to continuous education and constant learning. Senior management spoke to us on a weekly basis and gave us advice about the business world and how to improve. It was cool to have management take time out of their day to talk to interns. They often said to do the work you are given now well, and you will be trusted, and can move anywhere you want in the future. We also engaged in community service, which was nice to give back to locals.

Presenting at the end of the internship allowed me to have more experience in public speaking and being confident in front of a crowd. It gave us a chance to describe what we had been learning and working on all summer. Going to after work activities allowed me to get to know people on a more personal level. Overall, the people who surrounded me helped me grow professionally.

This change is valuable to my life, because I now know how important it is to get to know the people you are working with. I learned more than just auditing skills, I learned how an office culture functions. I learned how different parts of a bank work together to help customers. I have gained so much business and culture knowledge that will help me in any job in the future, which is what I wanted to get out of this internship. It truly was a great summer!

Manhattan Sports Business Academy Internship

Name: Ryan Hines

Type of Project: Internship

The MSBA 2017 Staff

The Manhattan Sports Business Academy (MSBA) is an 8-week summer immersion program designed to identify, prepare, and connect the next generation of sports business leaders. The curriculum includes internship placement, mentorship collectives, a speaker series, office field trips, and professional development seminars. This summer I served as MSBA’s Digital & Media Intern, where I was primarily responsible for facilitating the technical setup and multimedia content capture at all MSBA events. I also assisted with digital marketing initiatives including graphic design, social media, and website management.

Although I wasn’t one of the official 25 Class of 2017 members, I still received one of the most transformative and life changing experiences I’ve ever had. Prior to this summer, I always felt that the sports industry was very surface level – that it was every man for himself and a dog eat dog world. I was nervous about entering a field where you have to know the right people to get in. I was beginning to question my desire to enter the sports industry. However, this summer changed all of that. I have never felt so comfortable with my decision to pursue a career in sports. MSBA does an incredible job of preparing and connecting you for the next step after college. Through this I have come to realize that, while it is a tough industry to crack into, there are countless people who are willing to help you and have a vested interest in your success. All you have to do is reach out and put in the effort to make connections and build relationships.

Beyond my internship, living in New York City for ten weeks was an invaluable experience. There is something about being a 21-year old kid tackling the largest city in the United States on your own that makes you grow as a person. I truly grew up and blossomed from a young man with a narrow view of the world into a young professional that recognizes and appreciates all the world has to offer.

I was fortunate enough to live with the program participants for the duration of the summer. It sounds overwhelming to live with 25 other students for an entire summer. However, it was exactly the opposite. One of the most valuable aspects of my internship was living with these 25 students from colleges around the country. They quickly became some of my closest friends and now I can honestly say they are my family. A family that understands me because we all have similar goals and passions. A family that pushes me to dream more, do more, and be more every single day. And most importantly, a family that I can lean on as we all venture through this industry together

Outside of my long work days and MSBA events, I also found time to network with people who are in positions that I hope to be in one day. I forged a relationship with Hunter Mandel from Taylor Strategy who I met on an office field trip. Hunter previously worked for Bleacher Report as a Senior Video Producer and created college football recruit commitment videos. I sat down with Rob Schlaepfer, head of Research and Insights for CBS, and learned about a potential career path that I didn’t even know existed before this summer. Lastly, I came across Michael Cappetta, a fellow a Buckeye, on LinkedIn who graduated in 2011 and is currently a producer at NBC. I reached out just praying for a response and it turned into a coffee chat, a tour of 30 Rock, and a relationship that I hope continues well beyond this summer. I can’t thank Hunter, Rob, and Michael enough for their time and the opportunity to sit down with them.

Me at Twitter’s headquarters in NYC.

Interning for MSBA was everything I wanted, but also everything I didn’t know that I needed. I formed life-long friendships with 25 extremely talented future sports business leaders that I know will extend far beyond this summer. I made connections with countless executives and professionals who can provide words of wisdom and guide me on my journey through the sport industry. I had the opportunity to visit the NFL, NBA, NBPA, Bleacher Report, The Players’ Tribune, and so many other amazing sports enterprises – all in one summer. I grew, developed, and learned more about myself this summer than I ever thought possible. I have never been more prepared and confident for a career in the sports industry than I am right now. MSBA has given me all the tools I need to succeed – now it is up to me to make it happen.

Abbott Nutrition Packaging Internship

Name: Ethan Warner

Type of Project: Internship

For my STEP Signature Project, I spent six months interning with Abbott Nutrition within a Packaging Engineering role. As a packaging engineer at Abbott Nutrition, I was primarily responsible for the installation, validation and start-up of a new packaging line across two different manufacturing sites within the United States. I also delivered process capability assessments and recommendations for package commercialization, as well as supported the planning and roll out of change management around new global standard operating procedures.

Coming from a chemical engineering background, I was fairly unfamiliar with the roles and responsibilities of a packaging engineer. For me, value alignment is paramount. I knew that as a company, Abbott Nutrition valued positively impacting people’s lives through improving their health and nutrition above all else – This is something that I aspire to do in my life as well. Although this internship did not relate directly to chemical engineering, I felt that it would challenge me to grow technically and professionally, and also allow me to positively contribute to Abbott’s mission of helping others live life to the fullest through good health.

Reflecting on my internship experience, my growth and development was really driven by five key takeaways:

  1. Be flexible, take initiative.
  2. Be technical, ask questions.
  3. Find sustainable solutions.
  4. Bring people along with you, Explain “why”.
  5. Take time for yourself.

These key learnings were primarily driven by the work I did on various projects during my time at Abbott Nutrition and my interactions with the people there. By applying these to my life both inside and outside of work, I have noticed a positive change in the way I approach problems, lead, and interact with others. Additionally, my experience in packaging as a whole introduced me to a new field that I am very interested in pursuing in the future.

Be Flexible, Take Initiative

New Abbott Recloseable Container produced in Altavista, VA and Casa Grande, AZ

A few days before my first day of work, my supervisor emailed me and asked if I would be interested/willing to travel to Arizona for a week to help with training for the main project I’d be working on. As it turned out, that week was my very first. On my first day of work I went through HR orientation, met the packaging team, and got on plane to fly to Arizona for the week. This was a nerve wracking experience – I had no background information on the project I was working on, didn’t know anyone I was working with, and was flying by myself for the first time. However, this turned out to be a phenomenal experience – I was able to get hands on with the product, packaging, and processes right away, and I was able to immediately contribute by facilitating training sessions for plant staff and operators by the end of the week.

Throughout the course of my internship, there were many times similar to this where I was asked to travel last minute or take on extra projects. I found that by being flexible and taking initiative to seek out such opportunities, I not only gained greater understanding, but also established rapport with my coworkers and was provided with opportunities I otherwise wouldn’t have had. This set me up for success throughout the course of my experience.

Be Technical, Ask Questions

Abbott aseptic bottle qualified through my project work.

As I mentioned previously, coming from a chemical engineering background I was very unfamiliar with packaging processes and technology, and was initially overwhelmed by the technical depth associated with it. It was critical for me to embrace that I did not have this technical depth, and instead turn to the engineers and operators who did. By building relationships with those around me and not being afraid to ask questions and seek out technical expertise, I was able to better understand the minutia of packaging and identify resources to help me overcome obstacles as I was working on my projects. This helped to reinforce for me the importance of looking into technical details and asking questions, as well as the importance of relationships.

Bring People Along With You, Explain “Why”

 One of the most unique projects I worked on throughout the course of my internship was in the rewriting of Abbott Nutrition’s global package qualification process standard operating procedure. This was a complex document that spanned across multiple functional areas. Upfront, my work consisted of identifying themes from project case study lessons learned to identify gaps within the current procedure. What I enjoyed most, however, was taking part in discussions revolving around the change management of rolling out a procedure of such large magnitude. Specifically, how to ensure that the change we were trying to make was sustainable, and that the change we were leading was in the right amount, and at the right time.

This helped me to realize the importance of creating standardized processes in developing sustainable solutions, and more importantly, explaining the “why” behind what you are doing to ensure people are brought along with you and buy into your vision. Only by doing these things can you ensure that change you are trying to lead is successful, sustainable, and long-term.

Take Time for Yourself

Something I struggled with during my six months at Abbott was setting aside time for myself. For me, this breaks down into three categories – taking time for my relationships and involvements, taking time for my own development, and taking time for my wellness. I am very results oriented, and I greatly value my relationships with those around me. At work, it would be easy for me to put aside my own learning and development to finish a project I was working on, and outside of work, I would often spend all my time connecting with the people important to me, rarely taking time for my own health and wellness. Learning how to balance these three areas was a huge takeaway for me, helping me to realize how much time I have, and how to prioritize and make time for the things most important to me.

Final Thoughts

Abbott Nutrition Packaging Conference

As I move into my final year at Ohio State, the key takeaways I learned from my time at Abbott Nutrition will be conducive to my success both academically and post-graduation. I have found myself applying the lessons I’ve learned not only in work situations, but also in my classes, my student organizations, and in my relationships. Additionally, I have found a field that I am interested in and challenged by, with a company whose values align with my own. As I move into the fall semester, I will be working part time with Abbott Nutrition, and I hope to pursue a full time position there post-graduation.