For my STEP Signature Project, I was a Corporate Management Intern in Research and Development for Kraft Heinz in Chicago, Illinois. My role consisted of developing external packaging for a 2018 Innovation Project. I worked on cross functional research and development teams to qualify and implement a new product line and helped my department to reach integral goals and maintain timelines.
The transformation that I experienced this summer included increased confidence in myself, both personally and professionally. I learned that even though I am quiet, strong bonds can be formed. I learned how to form relationships with people who have different backgrounds than me, both personally and professionally. Lastly, I learned that just because I am learning, does not mean that my work is subpar. This transformation will carry through my senior year, as well as my post-graduation endeavors.
I have lived in central Ohio my entire life, with a short stint in Minneapolis. Columbus is nicknamed The Biggest Small Town in America due to the values alongside a growing population. This summer, living in Chicago, was starkly different. My intern cohort consisted of intelligent, driven students from across the country, with a wide variety of majors and backgrounds. Their presence was integral in the personal development over the summer. I lived with 7 people and worked with 28 other interns. I learned more about myself while working and going around the city with these students than I have in any other 10-week period. I bettered my interactions in casual settings, continuously held conversations with people I didn’t know well, and made the most of exploring a new city. I became more social and independent with these peers. This led to many new relationships and a strong network of soon to be professionals, all of which I think will thrive and become exceptional engineers, scientists, marketers, and financiers.
I had no prior experience in packaging engineering, which is a lot more complex than one may think. It combines materials science, mechanical engineering, marketing and design. I am particularly interested in combining mechanical engineering with design, so this opportunity was a great introduction in to the paths I could take. Some of my coworkers became influential in my professional growth and learning. One coworker would ask about my happiness, what they can do to help my project, and we frequently would talk about our long-term goals. My coworkers frequently vocalized their confidence in my abilities. Thus, I became more confident in my work. This confidence will carry through this year during my senior project work. In addition, I will be more confident when looking at post-graduation opportunities. I know that I can work hard, learn quickly and add value in any role.
My project allowed me to work on an extremely cross functional team. I worked with marketing, the manufacturing plant, process engineers, and product engineers, in addition to several other departments. This was influential in understanding the viewpoints of other functions. My role was to take the two conflicting requests of marketing and the manufacturing plant, and direct the team to the best option for all parties and stakeholders. In the past, I have only worked with other engineers. This opportunity increased my professional development, because I learned how to communicate for the specific audience. Since my long-term goal is to work on cross functional teams, this is a critical skill to learn.
Increasing my confidence in my personal and professional skills is important with both my current endeavors and future goals. I am becoming more and more confident in my abilities to connect with people and strengthen my network of professionals. In addition, I have become more confident in my work. This confidence will reflect in the caliber of jobs and graduate schools I will apply to. Overall, this experience was incredible. I learned about a sector of business with which I was unfamiliar, as well as finance, marketing, sales, logistics, R&D. I met inventive and tenacious peers, and became a confident professional that will learn quickly and become a valuable employee.