NCR Internship Reflection

Name: Andrew Harrison

Type of Project: Internship

 

  1. Please provide a brief description of your STEP Signature Project. Write two or three sentences describing the main activities your STEP Signature Project entailed.

My Step project was the completion of an internship with NCR. I worked for them as a data analytics intern from May 22 until August 3rd. My responsibilities included the completion of a project to develop a problem management solution for help desk incidents.

 

  1. What about your understanding of yourself, your assumptions, or your view of the world changed/transformed while completing your STEP Signature Project? Write one or two paragraphs to describe the change or transformation that took place.

Throughout my STEP project I continuously learned about myself and different strengths and weaknesses that I have. Beginning the internship I believed my strengths laid in my technical and people skills. I had spent a lot of time in class learning different skills that I expected to be using, and I had also spent a lot of time leading students on trips and becoming used to teaching and instructing. During my internship I came to find out that these strengths didn’t translate that well into the corporate world. There was an abundance of new skills that I needed to learn, and through my role in the company I wasn’t in a position to lead very often. I was however able to discover new strengths for myself in this position. I learned that I was adept at learning new ideas quickly and presenting my work. While I did learn about my strengths, I also learned about my weaknesses. I struggled to work effectively with certain groups of people, so I discovered that I needed to work on my teamwork and interpersonal skills when I’m not in a leadership position.

  1. What events, interactions, relationships, or activities during your STEP Signature Project led to the change/transformation that you discussed in #2, and how did those affect you? Write three or four paragraphs describing the key aspects of your experiences completing your STEP Signature Project that led to this change/transformation.

Throughout my internship I learned a lot about myself as a person and utilized that learning to transform myself. My understanding of my own strengths and weaknesses changed, and through a better understanding of myself, I was able to perform better both inside and outside of the office. Certain events were able to spark these changes and help me realize my strengths and weaknesses.

Throughout my internship, I was partnered with another intern by the name of Nan. Nan and I worked on the same project together for the 3 months we were there. Nan could be shy at times, so a lot of the talking and presenting responsibilities fell into my hands. Although this might have been a challenge for some people, I excelled in this role and discovered that I was a very strong speaker and presenter. I enjoyed explaining our work to other employees and reaching out for advice or assistance. This helped me realize that one of my strengths resided in presenting.

To complete our project Nan and I required access to a set of data that was located in a secure database.  Another group at NCR was utilizing this data, so we were able to work off of what they were extracting from the database, but unfortunately they weren’t pulling all of the data that we needed. In trying to work with this group to get all of the data we needed I discovered one of my weaknesses. We ran into a series of conflicts with this group and were not successful in getting them to expand their extract to include the data that we were interested in. I took fault in this failure as I came on too strong and was too aggressive while trying to work with them. I had a lot of previous experience acting as a leader, and through this event I discovered that I shouldn’t try to take leadership in every scenario.

 

  1. Why is this change/transformation significant or valuable for your life? Write one or two paragraphs discussing why this change or development matters and/or relates to your academic, personal, and/or professional goals and future plans.

This discovery of where my true strengths and weaknesses lie is very important for my growth and development going forward. I have a lot of strengths within leading and public speaking, but need to know when it’s appropriate to take leadership. Going forward I would like to challenge myself by trying to work within groups to complete projects that I might not be that familiar with. This would give me the opportunity to practice working within a team, but not taking charge because I’m unfamiliar with the subject. Throughout my career it is likely that I will often be put in a situation such as this were I need to work effectively as a member of a team instead of as the leader, and practicing now could be very beneficial for me.

Summer at the Smithsonian

Katie Leskowitz

Internship

My STEP Signature Project was to participate in the John Glenn College’s Washington Academic Internship Program. Through this program I completed 12 hours of coursework on policy analysis while working full time at the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage. At the Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage I worked for one of the curators/museum educators and helped plan the 50th Folklife Festival, a living museum on the national mall.

I had no clue what folk was before this internship. I learned that folk is a very broad term used to describe the culture of a community. There is occupational, regional, religious, ethnic or familial folk, and it is a term that is truly inclusive. The focus on history, inclusivity, diversity, culture, and overall, love of people is what matched my interests with the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage. I walked into the office and I instantly knew that people at the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage were different. I could not imagine a more inclusive, accepting and friendly office. I had this idea of D.C and the office life as constantly competitive, but I soon learned that our office was more like a family. This summer truly taught me the importance and respect of heritage, history, diversity, and folk and how this should be included in daily life. 

The Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage’s motto is “culture of, by, and for the people.” This means that the Center acts as an ambassador in showcasing, sustaining, researching, and educating the world on different cultures of the world. This also means making sure that it is in partnership with communities, and not using a community’s culture. The Center also makes sure that the cultures that they are showcasing are truly for the people, meaning that people that want to learn about the different cultures have fun, are educated and most importantly at no cost, so everyone can experience it. I was proud to be a part of this mission by working the Folklife Festival and showcasing the occupational folk of the circus. I truly transformed this summer, not only did I truly discover that history is my passion, but I have a new respect for folk and culture and the importance of diversity.

By developing free and educational STEM and arts based activities, the museum education team was able to teach children and families about the Circus, while having fun. My job involved a variety of different responsibilities. Before the festival, I helped organize a Material Cultural Forum presentation for 100 Smithsonian professionals. The Material Culture Forum was a special event for the 50th anniversary of the Folklife Festival which included a tour of the center, lecture presentation, an ice cream social, and tour of the festival site. I was in charge of RSVPs and check-ins for the tours. I also did RSVPs for the ice cream social, in addition to serving ice cream.

For the Folklife festival preparations, I worked on  the developed STEM and arts based educational activities, which included writing instructional guides. One of my main jobs during the festival was calculating the budget and supplies needed for these activities. We had 600,000 visitors at the 2017 festival, with a limited budget. I had to be very frugal and economically smart about what activities would be possible with these constraints. I also recruited and planned the visit of over 1,000 summer camp children at the Folklife Festival. I called 50 summer camps in first two days of my internship and catered the festival to the needs of the summer camp, including giving them a personalized schedule. During the festival, I worked the Circus Science kid’s education tent which including leading various STEM activities leading the craft table or teaching hula hooping. After the festival, I helped with analysis on visitor and summer camp satisfaction at the Folklife Festival. With that information, I wrote a blog on the success of the Circus Science tent. I also transcribed the discussion sessions at the festival and captured the oral histories, a focus of the Center.

By completing this variety of tasks that I was able to be a part of. I liked that every week I had a completely different project that really allowed me to learn multiple skills. I got to meet so many different people, from different backgrounds that truly showcased the power of folk and culture. Another cool part of my internship was the living museum aspect. When you write a historical research paper, it is hard to see the benefits, but the festival has a tangible result and as an intern I got to see the joy that my hard work had brought. It was a lot of work developing the educational activities, but seeing the smiles from doing crafts or hula hooping, made it all worth it!

I absolutely loved my internship and one of the biggest advantages was how great the people at the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage are. I was amazed by the kindness and generosity of my supervisor has shown me and my fellow interns. I thought that because I was an intern that no one would want to hear my ideas or care about me, or that I would have many responsibilities. But my supervisor welcomed all of us, whether that was for a trip to the Maryland Folklife Festival or a sushi night at her house. I feel so lucky that I have found such strong female role models at my work like my boss. The other strong women in my life are my coworkers. I feel encouraged every day I show up to work by seeing the intelligence and hard work that my boss and coworkers do. They truly are my role models. The first day I got to work, my other coworkers took me under their wing. I was so nervous that I did not know how to use the phone or send an email, but my coworkers answered all my questions and welcomed me to the office. My coworkers have become a great support for me while I have spent my time here. They were always down to hear me complain about my policy paper or tell me what restaurant to go to. My coworkers have truly become my friends here and my internship experience proved to me that I could be a strong woman in the workforce. 

I have truly met some of the best people and had a lot of personal growth. Three months later, I cannot believe that I was so worried and that I thought I was not cut out for my first “real” job. I am so glad that I pushed myself out of my comfort zone by coming to D.C. and taking a job that would challenge me. I learned that everyone once was an intern and that people are willing to help if you ask for it. I feel more confident in myself that I do belong in the office world and I can work a “real” job. This experience taught me to never doubt my abilities and that I have the skills to do the job, especially with support along the way. Most importantly, I learned that there are some really great people here in D.C. and I feel so lucky that I got the opportunity to spend my summer with them. I became more educated on issues of culture, folk and inclusivity. This internship made me even more passionate about my dreams. I am more driven than ever to work in a museum. I love museums, education, culture and people and this experience made me love that even more.

Upper Delaware SRR National Park Internship

Name:Haley Surckla

Type of Project: Internship

This summer I worked at Upper Delaware Scenic and Recreational River as an interpretive intern. Through this internship I would do the same duties that a national park ranger would complete. I would staff river accesses, historical sites, and even canoe down the river to provide interpretive information to the park visitors. I also was responsible for developing interpretive programs and presenting them to kid’s summer camps. I posted a picture a day on Instagram on “@adventures_of_haley” to document my whole journey. I spent a total of three months at this internship and lived on the Pennsylvania and New York border with three other interns and an amazing group of coworkers that helped me explore the area.

I have been presented with so many opportunities to grow as a person this summer both professionally and personally. I came into this internship with a list of goals, and I was able to accomplish many of them and more. I was able to apply many of my skills from school in my career; I especially had the opportunity to practice my public speaking skills. I also had the chance to become more confident in my quick thinking skills while talking to visitors. With all of the training that the park provided, I learned Red Cross canoeing skills, CPR, and wilderness first aid. I was able to become much more confident about my skills and qualifications to help me become a park ranger.

 

I developed a passion for the national park service through this internship. The diversity that the national park service draws, especially one near New York City, made me realize how important the park service is in connecting people to nature. My park helped others connect with nature which many people did not have the opportunity to see coming from a large city. This is important so that people can respect the resources that our planet provides and can help with conservation efforts.

I spent most of my summer talking to diverse groups of people: from many ethnicities, backgrounds, classes, genders, ages, and so much more. I had the opportunity to learn about view on the environment by hearing stories about other people’s experiences with nature. This internship had many ups and downs in learning about how people’s values align with my passion. If anything, I have become even more passionate about learning how to connect people with nature.

My fellow interns, which whom I lived with, and my coworkers were very supportive of me this summer. I learned so much through my coworker’s skills and knowledge. They encouraged me to go out of my comfort zone, and by doing so, I explored so much more of the area I was in. I was encouraged to explore my values and identity as well and have gained so many memories that I will cherish forever.

I developed an even deeper connection with nature. I worked outside for eight hours a day, five days a week, and then I would spend my nights off and weekends outdoors exploring the park and the areas around it. I grew up with nature around me all the time, but I really had the opportunity to dive deep into my passion this summer. I realize that there is nothing that makes me happier than spending my time outside. I cannot imagine myself doing anything else in my life than working outdoors.

 

 

This experience has allowed me to become more independent, passionate, open minded, and just happy in general. I’m so glad I had the chance to be myself and do something I love to do for work. I mean, who gets to say that they get to go canoeing and hiking for work? I was this summer, and I am lucky enough that I will eventually be able to say that in my life. This internship has helped me put a foot in the door for my future career path of working in a park.

If I have the opportunity to complete this internship again or work at the same park, I will take the offer immediately. I could work at this internship for the rest of my life and be completely content. I have learned skills and made memories that will last a lifetime regardless of where I decide to go and what I decide to do. This experience was completely priceless.

Menchie’s Frozen Yogurt Internship

I worked as a Marketing/Social Media Intern at Menchie’s Frozen Yogurt in Wadsworth, Ohio this past summer. During this internship, I ran the store’s social media accounts, created marketing graphic designs, and organized promotional events to gain exposure.

My understanding of myself and previous assumptions about the business world changed because of my internship. I now have more confidence in my professional and artistic abilities. I am additionally proud of the leadership skills that I have developed over the past 15 weeks. By gaining this experience, I now find business environments much less intimidating. I also learned that unlike I previously thought, a store’s image can be equally as important as its profit.

I am incredibly thankful for the 15 weeks I spent as a Marketing/Social Media Intern because this experience allowed me to grow both personally and professionally. There are several events and relationships that particularly contributed to my transformation. Independently organizing our store’s participation in a local parade, using my previously untapped artistic abilities to create promotional graphic designs, and applying marketing knowledge I learned at OSU allowed me to achieve so much growth in relatively little time.

Organizing our participation in my hometown’s local parade was by far my biggest and most successful project. I have been attending this parade for as long as I can remember, therefore I knew how much exposure we could gain for very little cost. I practiced leadership skills as I recruited participants. My creativity was put to the test as I used my computer to design eye-catching and informational flyers and coupons. I strategically segmented and targeted potential customers. Afterwards, I designed the most appropriate discounts for my chosen demographics.

My relationship with one of my bosses also contributed to my personal and professional transformation. He trusted with much more responsibility than my other coworkers. He encouraged me to go above and beyond what was expected of me because he knew I was capable. This helped me to gain confidence in my own abilities. He has become an important mentor in my life and a positive reference I will use on future applications.

This internship allowed me to gain valuable experience within my field of study. I was given the necessary resources and freedom to practice the skills I will need in future jobs. I was previously unsure if marketing was right for me, but now I have no doubts. I am passionate about marketing because it allows me to use my creativity, social personality, leadership and problem solving skills. I will carry the lessons this internship taught me through my academic journey at OSU and professional journey in future marketing related positions.

 

 

Summer Internship at GE Digital

For my STEP Signature Project, I chose to do an internship with General Electric Digital in the Bay Area of California to supplement my Computer Science and Engineering learning. During this time, I had the opportunity to work on the industrial internet of things, attend developer conferences, and make new connections.

By completing this internship, I was able to get hands-on experience working and applying the skills that I learn in university. This was an invaluable experience because it allowed me to figure out the kind of work that I wish to be doing in the future and shift my academic coursework accordingly. This internship really helped me recognize the value behind some of the courses I have taken, and the potential value of others that I have yet to take with regard to my career.

I learned and gained a lot of technical experience working with other full-time software engineers and even other interns. It was fantastic to get insight into the technology industry by working at General Electric Digital, which is shaping how we collect, analyze, and make predictions on industrially connected machines. Being in Silicon Valley also helped me figure out whether I would like to move to the location in the future, the types of companies I should look into working for or starting, and more. Shifting to the location was also a huge change that forced me to reach out, meet new people, and make connections that I am sure to keep for years, professionally and personally.

The changes that occurred during my STEP Signature Project were largely because of the people that I met and formed relationships with. I was lucky to have several mentors and people that were interested in my learning and experience such that they were able to make recommendations with regard to my academics and career that were invaluable.

The other causation of the STEP Signature Project was the work that I was doing. I had the opportunity to work on very cool projects that collect information off of assets like wind turbines and jet engines which will potentially be in use for years and affect a huge number of peoples’ lives, and improve them. I realized that it mattered to me that the work I was doing helped improve and better other peoples’ lives, and that I wanted to be working on something that mattered, which as an intern can be rare.

Meeting other interns was also a great opportunity because I was able to meet other like-minded individuals that were ambitious, intelligent, and my potential future colleagues. This helped me get out of the bubble of just knowing Ohio State University students, and expand my network beyond just one university and meet a range of diverse individuals with different backgrounds, but in the same environment and similar situations as myself. This was a very refreshing and useful experience.

This internship was significant to my life because it is helping me shape my academic, and consequently, my professional career. I learned the applications of the information that I am learning in classes, and I met people that can help connect and advise me throughout my life as they have been in the same scenario as myself. I also had the opportunity to work for a company in Silicon Valley, which was an experience which really helped with regard to where and who I would like to work for in the future, which will be a large part of my life after I graduate. This experience will help me advance my professional career through the connections I made, my academics as I learn more and more about my chosen profession and study it, and even my personal goals surrounding my life, location, and relationships.

Motorists Life Insurance Company Summer Internship

Zoe Leciejewski

Internship

1.      My STEP project was an internship at the Motorists Life Insurance Company in Columbus for the summer of 2017.  During the internship I learned about life actuarial work, including the tools and processes commonly used as a life actuary.

2.      The biggest transformation that I saw was that I understood the importance of the studying and dedication I have put in these past years.  During my internship I was finally able to apply my math and statistics knowledge as well as the soft skills like communication that I have developed here at Ohio State.  These skills are things that I knew were important, but never saw in action prior to this internship. 

3.      My relationship with my mentors at my internship really fostered this transformation.  They showed me where I could be in a few years if I stick with my studies and gain my actuarial fellowship.  They also showed me how the classroom knowledge that I was gaining at Ohio State could be implemented in the business setting. 

Additionally, during the internship I had to present my summer presentation to the CEO and his executive team.  This experience and their great reaction to the hard work I had put in during the summer made me realize that I could be a valuable asset to the workforce and can really contribute to the field of actuarial science.  Meeting with the executives afterwards and networking with them showed me the potential I have and really transformed my outlook on the next 2 years of college.

Finally, my favorite part of the whole summer was meeting and networking with other interns at the Motorists Group.  These people will be my colleagues someday and it was great to learn from and with them during the summer months.  A few of them were a year ahead of me and were actuarial science majors.  They told me about their job searches and the progress they had made in school.  This transformed me as well because it gave me a goal.  If I continue on the path I have set up for myself, I will be very marketable for employers in the future just as these other interns were.

4.      This internship affirmed for me that my future goal is to earn my actuarial fellowship and to work as an actuary.  This summer I gained valuable experience in this field that I know I will use when I look for another internship and then a full time job when I graduate.  Without this internship and without STEP I would not be as certain of my future career path.  Now, I know where I want to go and the steps I need to take to achieve my goals. 

Ares Sportswear Summer Internship

Hello!  My name is Skyler Isch.  I’m a current junior studying Finance at the Fisher College of Business, and this past summer I had an incredible opportunity to work as an accounting intern at Ares Sportswear, which is a local Columbus-based sportswear company. Some of my daily duties included making sure that our accounts were current, and helping assist with vendor and supplier relationships. My time at Ares Sportswear really offered me a unique perspective into both the sportswear industry and the accounting profession.

It truly was a transformational summer in many ways. Arguably the most eye-opening part of this summer was how my perspective of the sportswear industry was altered. I was very surprised at the numerous relationships with other sportswear and non-sportswear companies. For instance, there were a number of raw material providers (companies that would provide blank clothing, ink, etc.) who would sell inventory to Ares Sportswear, and from that point, Ares Sportswear would actually “assemble” or create the t-shirts or different types of inventory that customers were ordering. The production side of the business was located within the same complex as the administrative side, so it was fascinating to walk through production during breaks and look at the different processes that were happening. Another transformational aspect was getting to experience another office (and a different office from where my internship last year was). I learned a lot about working on a team, and a lot of the assumptions that I had coming in to the internship proved to be false during the course of my internship.

One of the interactions that led to my transformed view of the sportswear industry came from the proximity of the production part of Ares Sportswear and the administrative part that I worked in. Since they were located so closely, not only did I get to meander and explore the production side of Ares, but I also had co-workers from production come in and interact with me and my fellow department members. Working so closely with co-workers in production, the different aspects of business such as logistics and operations really came to life in a real-world example, outside of just what I had studied in classes. That, along with actually working in accounting, led to me viewing the material that I learned in school in a whole new, transformed light. Additionally, as I talked about in the above paragraph, the close proximity of the production side of Ares offered me a very unique insight as to how different aspects of the sportswear industry actually operate.

Another transformational part of my time at Ares Sportswear was created through my relationships with my co-workers. When I started my internship, one of the members of the accounting department had recently accepted an offer at another company, and so she was only at Ares for a small portion of my time. It was truly a very unique experience getting to witness and be a part of the changing relational dynamics within the department, both as one member left, and a new member was added relatively quickly afterwards. This was a new experience, and definitely challenged a lot of assumptions that I had about how a team functions through change. I thought that a job was just someplace one would go from 9:00am-5:00pm everyday, but after watching one member of our department leave I realized that work is not just a place you go to do your job, but also a place that friendships and relationships come from.

My home away from home.

Aside from realizing that work is a place where I can develop friendships and relationships, I learned a lot about being a member of a team. In the accounting department we were close and could joke around and have fun with each other, but we also were facing deadlines and daunting, sometimes impossible seeming tasks. While there was camaraderie, when the heat was one, we had to put aside our personal relationships and grind out the work ahead of us. I would say that the workplace camaraderie, definitely transformed my view of the workplace, but arguably more so, the way that our team functioned and set aside those personal relationships to accomplish the goal at hand was more transformative on my view of the workplace and the role that personal friendships take within it. Additionally, the members of my department called me out to do the best work that I could, and kept me accountable when I fell short of that and made a mistake. This gave a whole new meaning to the camaraderie and friendship that I had with co-workers. My co-workers holding me to a higher standard has led me to seek out others who also hold me to a challengingly high standard.

My home away from home pt. 2

Skyler v. receipt mountain

 

Foodtruck team-builders!

I would say that my insider perspective of the sportswear industry is nice, but not especially valuable for my life. However, the lessons I learned about being a member of a team and the relational dynamics of an office are incredibly valuable for my life. While office relationships and teams may look different in different scenarios, from my time at Ares Sportswear I definitely have an understanding of how critical those parts of an office are, and how important it is that they are healthy parts of an office and are functioning well. As someone who hopes to enter into the workforce and work in an office space after I graduate from Ohio State, these are very beneficial lessons that I can take with me to improve the office space in which I work. Additionally, the knowledge that I gained of accounting, both through my STEP Signature Project and through the financial literacy requirements of STEP will help me to budget and plan well for my personal future.

Red Cross Management Internship

My name is Mansi Mehta, and I am currently a junior studying Environmental Public Health and Economics at Ohio State. This summer I decided to complete an internship working with the American Red Cross as a Volunteer Management Intern for Central Ohio. As one of the largest humanitarian organizations in the world, the countless opportunities and connections I made through this organization shaped my future as a public health student, and a future healthcare administrator.

Originally a nursing major, I stumbled onto public health as a major where I would be able to explore my passion for healthcare in a broader sense. Working less with patients, and more with processes. The huge gap that splits this country equivalency in healthcare is something that fascinates me more and more everyday. I strive to find better ways to improve the relationships between healthcare workers and patients, as well as ways to give care to those who need it in rural and impoverished environments. Of course, changes cannot be made without the proper allocation of resources and time. This concept opened me up to the world of business, how the importance of transactions, monetary spending, and dividends seemed like some of the biggest barriers to health.

Looking toward the future, I knew I would be interested in getting my MBA/MHA and learning about the importance of business in healthcare. But what bothered me most at that point was not knowing anything about why I was going into this. Why is changing public policy on healthcare important? Why do we have the problems we have now, and what are they? I grew up with two basically healthy parents, who paid for my school, living situation, food, and most importantly my health insurance; having no idea how the other half lived. At this point, I knew it was important to sustain most of my undergrad to finding out why I wanted a future that focused on access to care.

I applied for over 30 internships at exclusively non profits, I received 6 offers for internships every public health student would thrive completing. From dealing with dental access, safe sex to food banks and disability services. After much deliberation, I decided I would spend my summer in the Red Cross office. They had a main base in Columbus that dealt with all the volunteer core from Ohio and parts of Indiana. To many, this decision might seem confusing as I earlier said I was more fueled to bring gaps in healthcare whereas in this position I would be organizing and recruiting volunteers. I guess the reasoning has to do with the fuel of non-profits, volunteers. Some of the most kindhearted and motivated individuals, who serve and protect communities they don’t even belong to for a purpose higher than themselves.

As a intern in the Volunteer Management department, I learned the importance of sustaining a volunteer core. To providing quality experiences and interactions with blood drive staff is order to create a level of compassion beyond imaginable. I learned names and faces of those who served the Red Cross daily, and I learned why they felt such a connection to our cause. There is a reason the Red Cross is one of the largest and most sustained non-profits in the world, and it was because of their volunteers. And although I would love to say that the Red Cross is thankful to their volunteers (which they surely are), the volunteers of the Red Cross are thankful for them. Each volunteer has a reason they spend their days helping others donate blood, whether it be a lost loved one, or the time they spent in war. Volunteers are thankful for the Red Cross, an organization which has pulled many people out turmoil and given them a second chance at life. Learning the effects of the Red Cross on a more interactive level truly transformed my knowledge of the non-profit sector, advancing my opinions of those I see volunteering in more ways than one.

So I encourage you all before you get your 14 missed call from the Red Cross this week, please consider volunteering. Even if you can’t donate, our organization is fueled by individuals like you who take the time to answer. Please support our fight to give emergency assistance, disaster relief and education to those in need of salvation and guidance. I enjoyed my internship at the Red Cross, I learned a lot about business, but mostly a lot about myself and what I hope to work for in the future. I learned about recruiting, on boarding, and motivating staff and volunteers. In the future, I will use the skills and knowledge I gained during the internship to further enhance my personal field in healthcare, as well as improve my position as a global health citizen. A special thank you to my supervisor Alex, and Grace and Ginger for welcoming me into the office and showing me their world! It was an experience I will never forget, and an organization I will never lose my commitment to.

Smithsonian Internship – A STEP Reflection

During my first trip to Washington D.C. with my family in tow I feel in love.  The city, the energy, not to mention the amazing food and (at that time) budding brunch scene all drew me in and gave me a strong sense of belonging that made me want to do everything possible to find myself back within its borders once more.  I was given that chance with STEP a few months ago.

Near the end of the first semester of my Sophomore year I began looking for internships in D.C. and there was one in particular that spoke to many of my interests and satisfied a childhood dream of mine: the Smithsonian.  I applied, interviewed and then accepted to work in D.C. this past summer as a Smithsonian Associates intern.  While there I helped plan long-term events, assist with museum education and apply my creative and critical-thinking skills to various tasks around the office.  It was also coupled with an amazing chance to live in the Foggy Bottom area where I truly enjoyed the surrounding down-town life that I was able to participate in with new friends.

During my internship I lived completely on my own and learned how to budget for long-term meals, keep an apartment and schedule my time appropriately.  My internship also taught me what it meant to be part of a team.  I often find myself stepping up to take leadership roles and delegating but in this setting I really wanted to allow myself to take a back seat and contribute to others’ visions.  This created a true team dynamic and atmosphere to shine through.  Learning the more subtle nuances typically found in a business setting also taught me how to professionally express my thoughts and ideas.

I first noticed this change when I was asked to contribute towards the creation of a new special event at the National Postal Museum.  They were creating a new family day event and I was encouraged to tour the museum and research possible activities that families could complete in order to participate in the museum in a new and innovative way.  On this project I worked with a small team and attended true tabletop discussions with our administrators.  It was my first professional experience where I actually felt like my work was going to be presented, discussed and implemented.  That feeling has guided me in pursuing more professional opportunities like it in the future.

What some people may not know is that Washington D.C. in the summer is universally known as “intern season” and there are always new faces to get to know.  It was enlightening to get to know new interns and hear about their backgrounds at the numerous mixers the city offers year round.  I met people from all over the United States and beyond working on different projects worldwide.  Through this networking I developed new friendships and connections that I know will assist me in the future.  I also developed a stronger sense of self and was able to present myself in a way that others now know they can reach out to me as a resource in the future.

Beyond that I thoroughly enjoyed learning from my supervisor and mentor.  Throughout the internship she would seek out specific opportunities that played to my strengths and put a faith in me that I was not expecting as a rising Junior in an institution as internationally renown as the Smithsonian.  She knew that I enjoyed researching and would create projects tailored to that skill.  In the end she taught me how to be a better leader and gave me new tools with which to better delegate.  I think having now developed these skills and seeing them in action that I will be a better mentor to others in the future and I am looking forward for the chance to do so.

If there is one enormous take-away from this opportunity it is that I truly do plan on returning to Washington, D.C. in the future.  There is something about the city that just draws me in every time I visit.  My internship gave me the confidence to compete professionally in the D.C. arena and I know in the future that I will find myself faced with this task.  I have created a network in D.C. of wonderful people who are always willing to reach out in order to help me succeed and I would not have had this without STEP’s funding of my project.

From here I will continue to pursue my International Studies/Russian degrees in order to return to Washington and offer my skills and knowledge yet again to the community.  This experience, and internships in general, are too often barred to those of my financial background.  Even though it took a lot of energy and long hours it has given me the tools needed to succeed in a professional career which is priceless in and of itself.