E15 Group Summer Internship

Name: Jake Walisiak

Type of Project: Summer Internship

My 2017 STEP signature project was in support of an internship that was extended from my previous summer experience. I obtained internship the spring internship career fair. My program was a 10-week long commitment that was in the heart of the city of Chicago. I worked as a data analytics intern working on a pricing project under a manager of analytics.

My summer internship was truly an invaluable experience. Not only did I receive professional, company-influential experience, but also a new understanding of myself in a professional sense. This new understanding has also allowed me to understand some new and important values that I look for in a company. The best part of this change in views is that they do not pertain to only personal gain. While working on a computer everyday number crunching and analyzing data, I began to think about my time commitment on a bigger scale. I understood that my work was highly valued and played a huge role in the success of the company, however, I wasn’t full satisfied with what was being accomplished. This lack of fulfillment drove my passion to strive to undertake more responsibilities.

In regards to more responsibilities, I am referring to the desire to want to make a difference in the world. Helping a corporate company only brings so much feeling of accomplishment. With this recognition I set out to find a way to get my company involved in the community. I made it my responsibility to draw up a scope document to allow for E15 to partake in volunteer work in the underdeveloped parts of Chicago. My goal was to provide workshops for underprivileged high school students and teach them what the field of data analytics is all about. Upon finishing the scope, I got one of my coworkers on board to help me and presented the plan to the CEO. Unfortunately, the summer ran short and the implication was not able to take place. However, the knowledge and experience I gained from this experience will carry forward throughout the remainder of my professional career.

Following my summer 2016 data analyst internship with The E15 Group, I was offered the opportunity to continue working remotely while on campus. This experience allowed me to improve my skills working amongst a team strictly through remote communication. The role was flexible and required 12-hour work weeks on my own time. This gave me a chance to learn how to effectively schedule meetings and practice taking minutes after conference calls. Upon completing a survey to replace a pre-existing audit process, I presented the final product to the regional president of a hospital chain through a phone conference.

This past summer I returned to The E15 Group where I worked my second summer with the support of STEP. Going into the summer I requested an increase in responsibility and was then tasked with leading a project. My first task was analyzing survey data from our DOPs and then creating a scope to address a problem with inconsistent pricing. The goal of the project’s scope was to determine a systematic approach on how to charge our clients for the fan-experience they looked to provide at their venues. This internship taught me to work in a fast paced environment, collaborate with a team, and prepare a presentation for the executive board.

After completing these two projects, I realized that combining the strength of the offices’ communication skills and technological skills, an extremely effective workshop could be valuable to many in the future. The level of immersion I experienced amongst my co-interns and project team confirmed that I flourish in a workplace with a balance between social collaboration and technical data mining. As I progressed through the brainstorming of how to get involve with the community, I learned that my motivation was self driven and it felt good to experience this. Another benefit of this was to witness the upbeat, excited responses from my coworkers and to see how quickly they were willing to help me accomplish this goal. I will continue to stay in touch with E15 to help carry out this mission.

Earlier this summer I went on a volunteer trip to Laos in southeast Asia. It was while on this trip that I began to gain such a strong appreciation for giving back to others. I value the feeling of accomplishment and commitment of an organization to helping others. It was while at my summer internship that I did not realize until late in the summer that something was missing. I slowly began to understand it was this same feeling of wanting to give back that I was looking for.

The overall impact that this transformation will have, and has had on me is immeasurable. I have learned how important it is to me to accomplish something much more than what is just required. I also have learned that I feel a strong passion to continue to volunteer and provide services to others in need of them or who would greatly appreciate my time and advice. Going forward, I am now fortunate to have the knowledge that I would like my career to support these interests. Without this internship, I will never know how long this type of realization may have taken to experience.

 

My Summer Internship

Name: Holly Rack

Type of Project: Internship

My STEP signature project allowed me to pay for housing and expenses for living in Columbus, Ohio as I completed my very first internship in the manufacturing industry. My position at Niagara Bottling, LLC was as an intern on the Manufacturing Technology team. With this role I was able to apply my knowledge as an operations management student to create a labor optimization report detailing four plants.

While completing my STEP project, I was able to come to two very important realizations about myself and the world around me. The first, and most positive transformation, was a personal affirmation that I have found the correct career path to pursue once I graduate. Beginning this summer, I was nervous being in a manufacturing center when I had little to no experience. I was working alongside engineering students that ridiculed my business background. As I moved forward in my internship experience, I gained confidence in my abilities and I improved a lot of my technical skills. Midway through my summer project, I took over as the Team Lead for a project I worked on with 4 other people, and I was able to ensure a successful project completion.

My internship experience also gave me a newfound insight on the field I will soon be stepping into; as a woman stepping into the realm of manufacturing, I will be facing much resistance and difficulties in the form of sexism. I was caught off guard many times with sexist comments or lowered expectations of my abilities, and I found myself constantly trying to ‘prove’ myself as an equal to gain some small form of respect for my abilities and experience.

Post internship, I have been able to take a mental inventory of all the experience I gained in manufacturing, and I have noticed how much I personally and professionally have grown. Taking over as a project lead with my four intern peers, I was able to assess the critical points of project management. Last week I was able to attend the Fisher career fair and talk about my experiences travelling to different plants and implementing best manufacturing practices, and it interested many potential employers.

In addition to adding skills to my resume, I also began to recognize how applicable my classes are to my future. My operations management core classes have been extremely fascinating because of how I can now relate them to the work I did over the summer. It has given me a sense of pride for my future and made me apply myself to classwork in ways I have never done before.

My internship also encouraged me to become a much more independent person. Because I had the opportunity to travel alone to different plants, I got experience renting cars, locking the hotel room doors, eating alone, and exploring different parts of America. It made me look to myself for happiness and let me do a lot of self- reflection on what I want for my future. I loved having the opportunity to travel, and after my experiences I would absolutely look for a job that allows travel.

Even the moments where I was exposed to sexism in the workplace pushed me to grow as an individual. I have found myself standing up for myself more often now and taking a more assertive role in demanding the respect I deserve. It has allowed me to be more aware of early signs, giving me a better look at potential companies I want to work for post-graduation.

Ultimately, my internship was hands down the most pivotal moment in my academic career. It not only confirmed my choice of major, but it also fostered my growth in a fast-paced, tough environment that I could not have experienced elsewhere.  Allowing me the chance to find my professional passion, I could not be more grateful for this experience. I am looking forward to researching future employers, interviewing, and accepting a job in the field I love.

Victoria’s Secret Merchandising Internship

Maggie Thomas

Internship

This summer I participated in an internship with LBrands in Reynoldsburg, Ohio. I worked as a Merchandising Intern for Victoria’s Secret Stores and was part of the Body by Victoria Bras team. Throughout my internship, I assisted the other merchants with various tasks including system updates and sample management.

Over the course of my internship I had the opportunity to get a behind the scenes look at the retail industry and develop skills that I will need to be successful in this field. By the end of the summer my passion for retail had grown tremendously and I was able to confirm that I would like to pursue a full-time career working with fashion retail. Before my internship, I was extremely naïve about the day to day activities of a merchant, but at its conclusion I was able to handle many daily tasks on my own and even input my opinion on current and future business.

While working all interns got the opportunity to speak with other full time employees and hear about their jobs and career paths. After meeting with my cross functional team and other merchants, I began to understand that working in retail requires constant teamwork and everyone looks to support each other. This was very appealing to me because I would like to work in an environment where employees want to support each other and help the company succeed as a whole instead of simply looking out for individual interests.

The Merchandising Interns were assigned a project to work on for the entirety of the summer and we even got the chance to collaborate with two other interns working in New York City. Throughout this process, we examined the retail landscape and looked for opportunities to improve our business. After working on the project for two months and developing our recommendations, we even had the opportunity to present our ideas to leadership. The intern project informed me even more about the retail industry and gave me a new appreciation for it.

Overall, simply being involved in the day to day tasks of a merchant was very educational and inspiring. As the summer progressed I saw product move from concept to physical samples and now it is nearly in stores. I also got to see how weekly business can quickly effect the assortment and how agile and resourceful merchants must truly be.

As I finish my senior year and my time at Ohio State comes to an end, I must now begin my professional career. Because of STEP and the opportunity I received this summer, I now can confidently say, I know the direction I would like to go. The retail industry is constantly changing and presenting new challenges and, in the near future, I hope to be involved in its evolution.

 

Ariel Corporation Co-op Experience

I adopted my STEP signature project to revolve around my mechanical engineering cooperative education, or co-op, experience with Ariel Corporation. Ariel Corporation, based in Mount Vernon, Ohio, is the world’s leading manufacturer of reciprocating natural gas compressors. During my nine-month co-op with Ariel, I worked in the maintenance and project and processes departments to develop internal facility documentation in order to maintain a working understanding of the layouts of all of Ariel’s facilities.

During my co-op experience, my expectations and plans for after graduation were able to more accurately develop. I had not previously had any engineering experience and was not quite sure what life could or would be like post-graduation. I often feel that the daily grind of working towards a degree can cause students to lose sight of their motivation while in college. I know I personally was losing sight of my educational and career goals among the piling homework and studying deadlines. However, first-hand exposure to my degree’s working environment was just what I need to see the big picture and to remember why I am pushing myself to graduate with an engineering degree. Not only did my co-op allow me to regain motivation, but it also provided me with a plethora of technical and personal skills that simply cannot be obtained in the classroom.

Co-oping with Ariel provided me exposure to a number of learning experiences that, in addition to my technical knowledge gained here at OSU, will help propel me after my graduation. These experiences at Ariel also helped me to reshape my expectations and preferences for my first job after graduation.

A significant amount of my professional growth can be attributed to the technical skills I acquired during my co-op. A majority of my work utilized AutoCAD software, a program I had little to no experience with at the beginning of my co-op. It was interesting and extremely gratifying to see how improved my skill set had become over nine months; I went from being lost in the process to aiding in the training of other incoming co-ops. Other technical skills gained included knowledge of the manufacturing process at Ariel and understanding of national utility and safety standards.

While a significant portion of my professional growth is visible through the technical skills I gained, I also strongly believe that growth can be seen through my “soft skills.” I was fortunate to have been assigned to a mentor who understood the importance to not only expose co-ops to a wide variety of technical experiences but also to introduce them to the norms of everyday workplace interactions. Despite the fact that I was one of the newest additions to the company and by far not the most experienced, my mentor pushed me and guided me on how to contact the necessary individuals for my projects. With his guidance, I gained confidence and learned how to successfully interact with my co-workers in a manner that would ensure that my projects would continue to move forward towards completion.

In addition to the professional growth, my lack of homework and therefore my increased time outside of work allowed for personal growth. During this time, I improved my budgeting skills and took the time to experiment and eventually find the best ways for myself to keep track of my finances. This allowed me to reassess how I’m spending my money and find ways I can make better decisions, in respect to dining out or impulse purchases, to save money. Another significant source of personal growth stemmed from the desire to fill the empty time outside of the work hours. During school, I had usually filled those hours with studying or hanging with friends. However, moving to a new town and beginning work with a new group of people, such as the other co-ops from across Ohio, allowed me to push myself to be more independent, make new acquaintances, explore new places, and chase after new experiences. These experiences varied from weekly lunches with the other co-ops at all the different diners in town, go-karting, long-distance cycling, trips to Kentucky and Florida, and even a road trip to go hiking in Montana.

My nine-month co-op experience with Ariel Corporation was not only crucial in providing me first-hand experience in the field that I am desiring to enter upon graduation, but it also allowed me to better understand my personal and professional aspirations. During this experience I gained professional skills that will prove invaluable in the future. Additionally, my personal growth during this time has further established the importance of  managing time efficiently to allow the balance I desire between working and chasing after new personal life experiences.

-Kaley Coss

Co-Alliance Agronomy Internship

After much deliberation and several re-evaluations of options, the STEP signature project that I settled upon was an internship experience. The role I attained for this past summer was with Co-Alliance, LLP. I was an agronomy intern and field scout at the New Holland, Ohio agronomy plant. Co-Alliance is a large, regional farmers’ cooperative involved in the agronomy, energy, grain and animal science industries. Here I scouted agronomic crop fields, documented and analyzed field trials of nutrition programs and crop variety trial plots, collected data and managed reports for a tissue sampling program, and took part in other roles as needed.

Field Scout Training

The project helped me understand myself more, in the sense that I learned some strengths and weaknesses of mine and became aware of ways I could grow. Over the course of the internship I realized I often feel lacking if I have to ask questions or for clarification on certain tasks or expectations, so I often do not ask for help or clarity. However, working under supervisors who cared about my understanding and my growth, I learned that asking questions helps not only gain understanding that, but really helps deepen relationships and create a good dynamic within the workplace. Another thing I  learned was that I have much more to learn in my field and that it is helpful to utilize as many resources as possible. I also became aware that I sometimes lack confidence because I do not have as much agricultural background as many of my colleagues. Another thing I understood better through my experience was my desire for learning from tutorials, hands-on experience and shadowing. I found this to be extremely important to my general learning.
One of the assumptions that fell apart during my experience is that agriculture has largely overcome natural and traditional challenges. Though we have advanced technology and continually-expanding strategies to increase agricultural efficiency, we are indeed still heavily dependent upon weather and conditions, and agricultural workers must understand how to deal with many unknowns. I also learned the weight and importance of relationships within the industry. The relationship between farmers and cooperatives is very important and it is a great dynamic.
The transformations and changed understandings I underwent were aided by specific events as well as ongoing relationships and atmospheres. The development of my comfort in asking questions came as an ongoing process, aided largely by both of my supervisors’ ability to answer and teach thoroughly, as well as their genuine willingness to do so. I was able to share office space with the “Ag specialist” for our plant and his explanations of products, farming practices, and even farm management were given with clarity and sincerity. This built confidence in me as well as more understanding.
An experience that helped me realize that a lack of background is not necessarily detrimental was a conversation with my supervisor, in which he encouraged me that this actually allows me to develop ideas and strategies based upon modern knowledge and research, unhindered by tradition and set opinions. Another time I was encouraged was by an agriculture specialist I met at a mixer Co-Alliance provided for the interns, where I was able to interact with current employees. This employee shared his personal experience and reminded me not to let others count me out or look down upon my background. The passion I have for the subject area can help urge me on to fill that void of experience. It may force me to reach out to more experienced people and develop mentoring relationships, but this can certainly be beneficial.
Another experience that helped shape my understanding of my own learning strategies was the opportunities to ride with my supervisors to appointments and other trips. I was able to sit-in on a customer appointment and see my manager’s rapport with the customer. The trust was gained through a straightforward, professional relationship and sincerity of interest in the customer’s well-being and success. Also, my first day on the job was defined by a ride-along with my manager where he showed me how to scout crops, look for concerning conditions and other general strategies. This and other similar trips helped me to realize that I really learn better by gaining experience than I do by listening to verbal instruction, even when the instruction is of high quality, such as was given at my work orientation.
The conditions present this summer with the wet and cold spring/planting season provided a unique opportunity for me to see that farmers do still struggle with the weather, and at high costs. Some fields had to be replanted two or three times this year due to flooding and cold temperatures, and in times such as these, when crop prices are low, farmers must be very strategic as to how to spend their money. I learned not to assume that expensive equipment and large farms always equate to ease of work or assured, continued success. Farming is risky, as it has always been.
                The changes in my understanding and approach to professional relationships that took place this summer will be valuable going forward. I feel that the desire to form relationships with people in the industry, whether in a company I work for or otherwise, will be very valuable in helping me build a professional network and support system from whom I can learn and exchange knowledge and experience. The willingness to ask questions gained through good teachers this summer will help me gain more understanding in future work environments and help create good work relationship dynamics.
Also, understanding the importance of farmers managing their resources well can help push me to be as knowledgeable as I can in order to help them best, and make good decisions based upon all the information available. I think the weather dependency of agriculture also helps me to be more flexible in general, and be able to change strategies and make informed decisions, having an open mind.
Overall this experience was very beneficial in helping me understand general agriculture, the relationship dynamics between entities in the industry, and how to best benefit companies I commit to. I look forward to continuing to develop meaningful relationships that help reinforce efficiency and quality of performance in the workplace.

-Boden Fisher

 

 

J.P. Morgan Chase Internship

For my STEP signature project, I had the pleasure of having an internship at JP Morgan Chase as a Summer Technical Analyst. During my 10 weeks as an intern I worked on various projects and presentations that helped me develop my technical skills as an Electrical and Computer Engineer as well as my professional presentation skills. Additionally, the internship allowed me to learn what kind of traits I value in a workplace and city.

I had two main goals when I was an intern at JPMorgan Chase. My first goal was to build my technical knowledge by completing projects that challenged me and benefited the firm. My second goal for my internship was to better understand myself and what type of work, place, and firm I would like to be employed at after graduation. It was through my project at work, the environment I worked at, and even a trip to Chicago that I was able to better myself as an engineer and better understand what I wanted for myself after graduation. Through all my experiences I grew my confidence in my technical skills by overcoming challenging projects, learned that I had the skills necessary to follow my interest in other industries, specifically consulting, and learned what kind of work environment and location I would be happy to work in.

At The Ohio State University I learned a lot about different software languages, however at work I learned I would be working primarily with databases, something I had never had any experience with before. I was worried about how much I would be able to contribute to my main project, especially since I was assigned to work on my project alone. At first I wasn’t sure what to do in order to learn more. Searching up information on google was difficult as I often would stumble upon answers that required the reader to already have some intermediate knowledge of databases to understand. Furthermore, my options were limited in whom to ask for help in understanding the topic since many full time employees were busy working on their own projects. After a couple of unsuccessful attempts of finding good resources to teach me what I needed to know, I stumbled upon an online video instructing tool offered by a third party that was provided to employees  for free by JPMorgan. I found success by watching the video series on databases and was able to complete my project because of the information I learned in the series.

That said, the videos also taught me important lessons that allowed me to grow as a person and as a professional. I learned that because all software languages follow a similar set of fundamentals, I am able to pick up new languages and concepts with ease because I have learned a wide base of software languages at Ohio State. This in turn boosted my confidence in my technical ability as I now feel as though I have the necessary technical knowledge to get started on any software task. Having this confidence in my technical ability also allows me to branch out in my career. One of the ideas I have been considering for over a year has been joining a consulting company. Joining a consulting company is interesting to me as it would expose me to new places through frequent travel and I would learn a wider range of technical knowledge by being a consultant on different projects. One of the things stopping me from pursuing a consulting job has been my confidence in the amount of technical knowledge I had. I thought that if I wasn’t an expert, how could I work on multiple consulting projects. My internship at JPMorgan Chase showed me I have all the necessary skills to get started on any software project and I have the ability to learn new skills in a short period of time.

A question that has been haunting me since I began to think about graduation is where I want to be after graduation. I have grown very comfortable at Ohio State and I have a difficult time seeing what type of environment I would feel comfortable at after Ohio State. Work is where we spend most of our day so the type of people I work with, the city I live in, and the workplace environment around me are all just as important as the type of work I would be doing. I learned at JPMorgan that I enjoyed working in an environment that included people of other professions that were not engineering. I feel that having people of other professions brings out different personalities and makes the workplace more enjoyable. Additionally, I have a great interest in leaving my home town of Columbus to experience working a different city. And while I worked in the Columbus branch of JPMorgan Chase, I had a desire to work in a different branch in order to be in a different city. I specifically had an interest in working in the Chicago branch. In order to learn more, I asked people around the Columbus office if they could connect me with someone who worked in the Chicago office who could answer my questions about the type of work available in Chicago and the culture of the workplace and city there. I was connected to a couple of great people who generously gave me their time and patiently answered my questions. My enthusiasm grew after talking with them and I decided to take a weekend trip to visit Chicago and see if I could imagine myself living there. Through that trip I learned that while there were many things I enjoyed about Chicago, I missed the slower pace and Midwestern culture Columbus has more than I thought I would. The trip was very important to me as it shifted my focus from living in larger cities to living in smaller cities such as Pittsburgh, Washington DC, and Columbus.

I am grateful to have my internship as my STEP signature project. The growth I underwent in my confidence in my technical skills has made me feel like more of an asset to companies. Additionally, it has opened me up to exploring different industries and opportunities that I was hesitant to pursue before, such as consulting. Furthermore, it fleshed out what type workplace environment and city I would be happy to be in after graduation. Any goal I have in life can be tried back to my one objective, how can I make myself happier. Having an internship at JPMorgan Chase as my STEP signature project gave me a window to look at how my professional and personal life will change after graduation and what I can do to make myself better off after graduation.

-Zachariah Alkhayri

Summer Internship: Owens Corning

My STEP Signature Project was an internship with Owens Corning at a Roofing and Asphalt manufacturing plant. At the plant I focused on optimizing shingle manufacturing and decreasing product line variation.

During internship, I was exposed to working in a manufacturing plant for the first time. This was a new experience for me and allowed me to gain a better understanding of how products are made and the challenges manufactures face. When I first arrived, I felt a little overwhelmed learning all the different portions of the line, but after a little while I became more comfortable. I quickly learned that interacting with the operators directly was the best way to learn. Each operator had a wealth of knowledge and was more willing to share when asked. This internship helped me realize that the best way to get things done in a plant environment is to make close relationships with the operators and to include the operators in any major process decisions.

The experience helped teach me how to interact in a manufacturing facility and how to stay safe in a plant. Working at the plant also helped shift my world view from a theoretical stand point to a production stand point. I learned how to take knowledge I had from school and apply it to industry. Through the internship, I was able to gain a better understand of the necessity of designing things specifically for a production environment. When creating products or implementing new products it is necessary to understand the limitations of the manufacturing facility and the raw material variance. In a plant, you will never be able to get down to laboratory grade specifications and therefore have to design a more robust process and product.

During my internship, I was able to be on the plant floor for hours at a time. Being the plant floor allowed to build direct relationships with the operators and production leaders. This exposure led to many close interactions with operators where I learned the ins and out of the shingle manufacturing process. Each time I spoke with someone they would open up more and continue to share with me. Although I came in knowing very little about shingle manufacturing, I was able to gain a good understanding of the overall shingle production process and how various process factors impact production.

Through my Signature Project, I was able to improve my technical and personal communication skills.  During the internship, I learned how to tailor my discussion with who I was talking to. Talking to my direct mentor I was able to go into more technical depth and more precise details, but talking with operators it was best to keep the broad picture in mind and only go into the specific details when it applied to their job. Through my experience, I was able to gain experience writing standard works and standard operating procedures. In addition, when communicating with higher up management I had to tailor my suggestions to quickly highlight the relevant benefits. Through my experience, I was able to gain experience writing standard works and standard operating procedures.

Safety was a key aspect of my time at Owens Corning. My internship exposed me to a variety of tactics used to keep workers safe and ensure that everyone goes home safely. By working through job hazard analysis and participating in safety walks I was able to gain a better understanding of the necessary measures taken by companies to keep employees safe.

My internship helped further my professional career in a variety of ways. The internship exposed me to working in a plant, improved my communication skills, and allowed me to explore manufacturing career options. Overall, the STEP Signature Project bettered me as a person, taught me how to interact and be safe in a manufacturing environment. I learned that I really enjoy being in a plant and will likely pursue a plant environment in my future career. The internship also showed me that although I am majoring in chemical engineering I can apply the knowledge I have learned to a variety of fields.

 

Spending a Summer Working in a Special Needs School

I was lucky enough to spend my summer in Millersville, Maryland at Ruth Parker Eason School. Far from the ordinary elementary or middle school, Ruth Eason is a school for those with special needs; varying from autism, to Down syndrome, to cerebral palsy. I have been putting a lot of thought into perusing further education in order to be a school counselor in a special needs school such as this. My sister is special needs and therefore I have always had a soft spot for the developmental disabilities community. Throughout this internship, I had to put together projects and activities on my own and work side by side with a variety of school faculty and interact with some of the sweetest children I think I will ever meet. Needless to say, it was a very fulling experience.

Going into this summer, I knew there would certainly be challenges. My family and I have always said that those who work within the special needs community are very special people. The amount of patience that is necessary is amazing. I knew there would be times that I would have to think on my feet, and probably struggle with some aspect of child care or trying to figure out what educational aspects would be most beneficial to the students. What surprised me was how much classroom experience and interaction I got to have. There was one classroom in particular that I was in almost every day. It was a class of seven students, all in the elementary school category, all boys, and had either autism, Downs, or muscular dystrophy. The kids in that classroom made my summer pretty great.

It is one thing to see or observe yourself succeeding, or seeing your friend do well at something. But to help a child, specifically one with a developmental disability, reach milestones, or even take small steps such as counting to five without help, that is when I developed a deeper understanding of success. Or to create a project that is tailored to each individual student’s needs and observe each of them having fun and actually taking something away from the project; not only was I overjoyed, but I saw what success was in a very different way.

During my STEP project, I formed a particularly strong connection with a student. When ever he would become overwhelmed or frustrated, he would walk over to me and just hug me until he felt better or more secure in his environment. He started the summer term very leary of his classmates and would stand in the corner and cover his ears. But working with him almost every day, I eventually got him to stop covering his ears. And then to come a few feet out from the corner. And then to sit down at the table with the rest of the kids while we did work together. These little steps, these little successes were so much bigger than I would have ever anticipated.

Also during my time at Ruth Eason, I had to come up with an activity that all the kids in the class would enjoy, centered around outer space. So we did a fun art project, where I took pictures of each student, printed it out, and we cut a circle around their face. Then we cut out a cartoon drawing of an astronaut and glued it to a piece of black construction paper. We then took the picture of each student and glued them to the astronaut so it looked like they were the astronaut! And then the kids could decorate it how ever they wanted to. It took a lot of time to do because we had to go at the pace of each child, but a student who had never even been able to hold a glue stick before, did, which was so cool! And all the students loved the finished project. They were astronauts now, and they were so excited, they showed their creations to everyone they walked past in the hallway.

Experiencing these things really changed my perspective on life. I tend to push myself really hard and expect to keep reaching the next highest goal I can set; I end up being pretty hard on myself. But working in that school and with those students showed me that a success does not have to be some huge thing like getting an A on an exam. A success can be finishing a chapter I had to read for class, or getting a chance to interview for a job. Having a perspective like I had prior to this summer was exhausting, and frankly a bit depressing. But learning to appreciate the smaller things and the smaller steps has made me happier and even motivates me more.

As far as the future goes, learning this lesson of appreciating the smaller successes and such, I think will make me happier in the long run. Even with the few failures or road blockages that may occur, I learned that there is so much more to look at in the grand scheme of things. Despite challenges I may face, or struggles I may encounter, I now know that there is so much more then focusing on them. My STEP project created a life attitude change, that I am so thankful to have had.

Ravago Internship Experience

My STEP Signature Project consisted of an internship at a polymer compounding plant with the company Ravago. I worked on a few projects for the company as I learned about the polymer industry.

Considering this was my first internship in the engineering field, there was a lot I learned about the technical side to polymer compounding, how a company operates, and myself. Since I had not taken any polymer-related coursework, I had to learn the chemistry behind what goes on as well as the process to make the final product. My supervisor was extremely experienced and knowledgeable in this field, so he was able to explain everything I needed to know and answer any questions I had. Considering the fact that I worked for a smaller company, I was able to see the different aspects of the daily operations of running a company. Each morning, we would have a meeting where we would discuss the orders that have come in, the ordering of raw materials for those orders, the quality of the product being produced, the progress of each order, and any technical issue we had encountered. This was very helpful for me to be immersed in what goes on day-to-day and get a glimpse of what “the real world” looks like.

In addition to learning about a specific type of engineering and an inside look at a company’s operations, I learned a lot about myself this summer. I learned that I am capable of learning what I need to in order to complete a task. My projects required me to learn about things that I was never taught about in school, so I had to ask questions and search for things that would help me complete the tasks I was given. I also learned that I shouldn’t be too timid to ask for help or clarification. Over the course of the summer, it was necessary for me to talk to others in the office or in the plant so that I could gather all the information I needed. For some reason, I found it to be very difficult to go into the plant on my own and have conversations with people about what they do and learn from them. Once I started the conversation, I saw that there was no reason for me to have worried about it. In the future, I will remember this experience and realization so that I am not afraid to talk to others and learn from them.

There were several events and interactions I experienced over the summer and each one of these played a part in the changes that occurred. In regards to learning more about the technical side of polymer compounding, I found it extremely helpful to talk to my boss. He has decades of experience and is able to explain any concept I had a question about. He likes to give examples from his past work experience in hopes that something would stick with me and it did. If my supervisor was unavailable or I wanted further clarification on something, searching for it on the internet would usually help. Sometimes, however, this provided too much and irrelevant information, so it was almost always better to ask someone with experience. I was also fortunate enough to have the opportunity to see the concepts that we talk about in action. I would go out into the plant to take a closer look at what we were talking about. This would give me the opportunity to ask more questions and gain a better understanding of the process. These events helped me to gain knowledge about a subject that I couldn’t have gotten any other way.

Each day, I would go into work with an open mind knowing that I would learn something new. There was always something different going on each day and I would learn about many different aspects that I’ve never had experience with before. Aside from the technical learning that went on, I learned about customer service, obtaining raw materials, quality of the product, and scheduling production because of attending the daily meeting each morning. It was good for me to see how this company operates so that at the next job I go to, I will have the experience of how this company operates and I could incorporate what worked well in the company into the new company in the future. Hopefully, this should allow me to improve the next company I work for.

The only reason I took an internship was because of my desire to gain technical experience. This internship gave me projects that required me to use some of the knowledge I’ve learned through classes, but I also had to do a lot of learning on my own in order to complete these projects. My desire to learn and gain experience for the future caused me to gain knowledge about polymers, the company I worked for, and what I might want to do in the future.

My internship experience was very valuable to me and I am glad that the STEP program helped to make this experience possible. Before searching for an internship, I did not consider the polymer industry as a potential career for myself. I thought that I wanted to work in the food or consumer products industry, but I took a chance over the summer and it ended up paying off. I saw that within the polymer industry, there are several areas which I could get involved, even several areas within one company. I worked mostly with flame retardant compounds, but other plants in the company did work with injection molding or recycling, to name a couple. This experience opened my eyes to the possibilities within this industry and I will definitely consider it as I search for a full time job this school year.

Rockwell Automation Internship – Roger Kassouf

I had a great experience interning at the Rockwell Automation, an industrial automation firm. My role was as a Commercial Engineering Intern, working out of their Mayfield Heights, Ohio campus. This position primarily involved work in applying emergent technologies to expand Rockwell’s capabilities in their motion products.

This experience allowed me to understand better myself and others. Coming from a personal angle, I began this internship with a sense of inadequacy. I knew that I had plenty of classroom experience and a decent foundation for my job. However, it made a difference to actually apply those concepts in the real world. I surprised myself with how outside-the-box I was forced to work, nearly single-handedly coming up with different ways to implement tried concepts. I’ve never thought of myself as a creative person, or someone that would be able to drive innovation from the ground up. However, the experience really ingrained in me that I can really do anything, as long as I set my mind to it and surround myself with the right people and information to get it done.

Furthermore, I really connected how engineering innovations translated as value to the everyday person. Having more sophisticated automation allows companies to reduce down time, do higher-accuracy proof of concept, and aim to increase efficiency in their most basic processes. In turn, they are able to not only remain competitive, but improve the speed and quality of their output. For the layman, this equates to more access to higher quality consumer goods. There are also added benefits in manufacturing safety and reliability, thanks to improved machine performance and error prediction.

I consider myself very fortunate to be able to have this experience at Rockwell — disregarding a paycheck, I would not have been presented the events, interactions, relationships, and experiences that I now have.

The most significant relationship I have through work is with my supervisor, Brian Fast. To simply call him a resource would be a great understatement. I see Brian not only as a teammate and friend, but also as a role model to how engineers should be. I am forever grateful for his mentoring and guidance through my work, and also for his sponsorship of me in Rockwell. With Brian’s help, I have become much more diligent in my thoughts, judicious in my words, and effective with my actions.

My interactions among Rockwell employees have given me the chance to improve my skills with interfacing with others. Specifically, there was a different team of engineers who would come to Brian for advice for complicated questions. When Brian was not around, or he trusted my expertise, he allowed me to consult for this team. Most of the conversation was not even about the answers that I might provide them, but rather to understand the questions they were asking. Sometimes people “don’t know what they don’t know”, which was the case here. I feel as though I developed a skill of communication that relies on patient explaining, rather than obtusely “telling”. People should be heard and understood before all else.

A big event at the end of the summer was having the opportunity to present my work at the Global Headquarters in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. It was my first time going to corporate, and it was quite nerve-wracking, especially as I was presenting to my manager and department director. That was a day that I realized that being confident doesn’t mean that one can’t be nervous or afraid, but rather that they are able to put their passion ahead of their fears. Overall I would say the presentation was received very well, and it cemented my feeling of accomplishment for the work I had done over the summer.

Every experience, big or small, short or long, has produced valuable change in my life. Most obviously, the biggest boon from this summer was the growth in the academic and professional sense. I can more quickly adjust to new situations, develop a proposed solution from information, validate it, and present it to others. As a good student takes charge of their learning, a good professional knows how to carry out their own agenda for the good of their organization. Doing those things at Rockwell has given me a model which I can take with me for my entire career.

Even personally though, this internship has elevated my expectations of how I should be, coupled with the confidence to hold myself to that level. In the past, I would struggle with self-confidence and being actionable rather than passive -now, I see no reason to go back. This experience also helped me realize that I have an intrinsic value to share with others, far beyond my skills and ability to do work. Others can see me as someone who they can depend on, someone who sees the big picture, and can always add value regardless of what’s going on. It gives me a reason to put forward my 100% effort every day: at home, at work, and with the community.

I am incredibly thankful for every opportunity presented to me through this internship with Rockwell Automation. STEP has been a great help in covering my expenses while I went through this transformational experience.