My STEP signature project was an internship with the Ohio Supercomputer Center, located here in Columbus, OH. I served as a research software intern, collaborating with an Earth Sciences research group to develop high resolution terrain mapping software. I profiled and optimized code in a high performance computing environment, and installed and debugged software for different supercomputer clusters hosted by the OSC.
I learned so much in this internship. I learned many new skills that will help me as a computer scientist, including familiarity with many tools I am likely to use in my future career. I also learned many transferrable skills, and improved as a worker and as a person, developing independence in the workplace and a work ethic to get the job done.
This opportunity considerably benefitted my professional skillset and gave me a deeper understanding of working in a computer science-related field. I learned a lot about working in a UNIX/LINUX environment, maintaining git repositories, and debugging software with applications such as Totalview, all of which will likely be necessary in future positions. Additionally, since I was assigned to a team of developers, it gave me experience with collaboration in the workplace, and with combining a group’s efforts to reach a goal that would be impossible to reach on one’s own. This teamworking skill is very important in the field of computer science, and I am glad to have this experience.
I also learned how to work more independently as a result of this position. Many times, when I was assigned a task, I was not given step-by-step instructions to follow to complete it. When trying to solve a problem, I had to investigate it on my own and devise my own solution. If I could not find a solution, there were those I could consult for help (fellow coworkers or my boss), but, increasingly as my internship continued, this was not an issue. Being able to work independently in problem-solving is a crucial skill to have in computer science. Technologies we utilize change so fast that we have to adapt quickly to new situations, and use new tools to solve problems. The skills I learned at this internship will greatly benefit my future ability to do so.
Another way in which this internship was transformational for me was the change it made in my work ethic. I have to be honest: sitting at a computer doing desk work for 8 hours a day isn’t always thrilling. There were times when the hours seemed to drag on, the work was unsatisfying and slow. But that is true of any position, no matter how rewarding it may be. Holding this position gave me the responsibility to push through the occasional monotony of the work and still give exemplary performance. This is a skill that will benefit me in the future, not just in my career, but also in life. Being able to work through tough situations will mean I will not hesitate to work for what I know is best for me.
My experience with the Ohio Supercomputer Center was a magnificent one. I have learned many things that will benefit my future career, but also many things that have transformed me into a better person. I now know I will be able to succeed as a computer scientist and as a person as I continue to grow and mature, and STEP had a considerable role in helping push me in the right direction.