Internship with the Ohio Supercomputer Center

Dylan Knaplund



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.

Highlights for Children

For my STEP Signature Project, I worked as an intern at Highlights for Children. I interned with their eCommerce department, where I built web pages and worked on site search engine optimization.

This was my first extended amount of time working in a professional environment. Over my summer at Highlights, I was able to practice living on my own, dressing professionally, and maintaining a work-life balance. This experience helped me to feel more confident in a professional setting, especially when it comes to working on a team with employees of different levels.

So often in classes, students find themselves thinking, “when will I ever use this?” I am happy to report that throughout my internship, I applied several themes and topics from both my Communications and Computer Science Courses. I edited HTML code for new webpages, which is a skill that I learned in one of my first Computer Science classes at Ohio State. I also worked with online advertising, which I learned the various strategies of in Introduction to Communication Technology. I was positively surprised to know that what I am learning in my classes really will help me in my future career.

The biggest transformation, for me, was a change in confidence. Because of my STEP project, I am able to feel confident in my ability to succeed in a professional environment. I was fortunate to work with a team at Highlights of warm and welcoming employees, who never made me feel that it was a hassle to explain their work to me. Particularly, my relationships with my bosses, Kevin and Brendin, helped me; the two of them always kept their door open for me and encouraged me to ask any questions. I also gave a presentation to the CEO of the company, and his praise was a huge boost to my confidence as well.

One of my personal goals for this internship was to better understand what type of career I would like to go into. Working with the eCommerce department, I got to attend meetings and work on projects with other departments including, IT, Web Services, Creative Services, and Product Management. Seeing this wide view of areas that I could potentially have as careers was quite valuable to me. While I do have a technical background in Computer Science, I have decided that I would not like to have an IT job. Also, I now know that I would not like a business position that deals with sales numbers. Rather, I prefer a slightly more creative position; one that is project based and works with the human-interaction side of STEM.

I feel like my STEP project was an opportunity to dip my toes in the water of the adult world. At my internship, I had to be accountable for my work and a dependable employee. With my project funding, I bought groceries, prepared meals, paid rent, and improved my professional wardrobe. These personal adjustments helped to make me feel confident about life after Ohio State as well.

Since completing my internship at Highlights, I have solidified my major and minor. I am now a New Media & Communication Technology major with a minor in Computer Information Science. Deciding on a major (and minor) is something that had been a cause of stress for me for a while. I am so glad that through my internship, I have been able to choose a major and minor that will point me in the direction of my career intentions.

I am pleased to report that I have been invited back for a second internship next summer at Highlights. I was also offered a part-time position for during the school year, which I turned down for the time being to focus on academics. Because I will be returning to Highlights, there is certainly a possibility that I may end up working there after I graduate. This possibility has shaped my future plans because I am beginning to consider building a life in Columbus, working at Highlights, and setting further career goals for myself there.