Internship at Abbott, Southern California

I chose to use my STEP Project toward a six-month co-op with Abbott Laboratories (formerly St. Jude Medical). There, I served as an Electrical Engineering Co-op within the R&D MRI Safety division group. I was responsible for both hardware and software engineering, where I helped build a system to monitor the activity of pacemakers and defibrillators.

Over the course of my co-op, I grew and learned not just as an engineer, but as an individual. My work environment was based in southern California, which meant the opposite side of the country from where I have grown up. I worked in Los Angeles, surrounded by diverse groups of people pursuing all different kinds of dreams. I was exposed to a fusion of cultures, of people who were excited to not only share their history but wanted to learn about yours as well. After moving back to my hometown, I found myself craving the diversity and blending of ideas I had experienced over the course of my co-op.

In the workplace, I transformed from a hesitant and developing engineer, to one who became comfortable with knowing that even though I may not immediately know the answer to everything, I have the tools and capability to find them. I started out being afraid to ask questions, to make obvious the depth and lack of my technical knowledge. Encouragement from my managers and co-workers helped me gain the confidence to ask the questions I needed to, to help me become a better and more informed engineer.

My co-workers played a huge role in this development. There were approximately twenty co-ops in total, and we came from different universities across the country. Despite this, we all got along well and grew to encourage each other to grow both personally and professionally. If there was a topic or software that I was unfamiliar with, there was always a good chance that one of my co-workers had used it before and was willing to show me the ropes. Through presentations and projects, we always had each other’s backs. This made it that much easier to feel comfortable in my environment, so that I could have the best possible experience.

During my first month at Abbott, I received the opportunity to implant a pacemaker and leads into a pig’s heart. I have always had a passion for the intersection of biology and engineering, and I was able to witness firsthand the collaboration between engineers and physicians to make sure they were fitting a patient to provide the best therapy possible. That experience in holding an animal’s heart and implanting our medical devices was lifechanging because I was doing what I loved most, and I was able to see that a dream that combined my love for biology and technology was possible and relevant.

At the very end of my internship, I was finishing up a project that would be able to monitor that activity of pacemakers during an MRI scan and report back visual and computational results. As this development came to a close, I was invited to travel to the University of California – Los Angeles, to observe my project in action. I had the opportunity to see my project implanted in a system that mimics human heart tissue, and watch it do its job. This was perhaps the highest point of my co-op. Being able to look back on where I started, to what I had accomplished by that point seemed completely overwhelming and incredibly satisfying. Engineers would be using my system to evaluate new pacemaker designs to save and protect patients, and this knowledge fulfilled all the goals and dreams I had started out with.

I experienced so much in my six months working for Abbott. I grew as an individual and saw myself flourish in a diverse and colorful environment. At the same time, I was given work that challenged me as an engineer, but also allowed me to trust my skills and judgment. I was able to see my project come to life and be used to evaluate the next generation of high-tech cardio-rhythm management devices. In the end, it gave me the confidence and inspiration I needed to know that everything I had wanted in my dream career was out there, and that I have the ability to pursue and achieve it.

Consulting in London

The project that I completed in May was through the Office of Global Business’ Global Projects Program: Non-Profit in London, UK. I was on a team of six Ohio State students that was tasked with helping the US-based non-profit organization Soles 4 Souls expand into Europe and particularly the United Kingdom by mainly focusing on locating a storage facility and finding an efficient way to sort and ship all of the donated shoes. 

I learned a lot about the way English people do business and how different it is from the interactions that I have encountered here in the US. All of this taught me to always be prepared for whatever is coming your way and to not get thrown off if unexpected experiences occur because those might be the best ones. 

We had the opportunity to meet with big British shoe brands like Hotter, Office, and Bobux and the whole structure of the way the meeting were held and executed. There was never a clear agenda to any of the meeting so the plan seemed as though we were going to follow whatever topics get brought up without a clear structure. However there was a lot of humor incorporated into the overall theme of the meetings, which was enjoyable and made business fun. When it come to experiences that did not involve the project, it was also things that I did not quite expect. Before this project took place I had been to Blackpool, England but not London. So naturally I thought that London was going to be the same culturally. But I couldn’t have been more wrong in my assumption. Surprisingly, to me at least, London was the most diversified place that I have ever been to when it come to the people  and the mixture of cultures that reside within it. For example, there is an astonishing amount of French people that live in London. I ended up speaking more French than I thought I would going to London. Practicing my French and enjoying their delicious bakeries and cuisine was definitely a great bonus to the trip. I also unexpectedly ran into Chinatown in the heart of London where I experienced bits of Asian cultures like trying dumplings for the first time at Dumpling Legends and seeing a numbered menu for the first time at Imperial China.

This project was very influential in my life as sometime in my career I would like to contribute heavily to a meaningful non-profit organization either as an employee, a board member, or a donor. Being a part of the impact that they make is truly something special. This trip overall had a great effect on me because I fell in love with the city of London and its melting pot of cultures  and people in addition to my project teammates that I will have a friendship with for the rest of my life. 

Internship at TNT Australia

My STEP-signature project was a two-month long internship in Sydney, Australia with TNT Express. Not only was I at TNT to learn about how a transportation company works but also about what daily business and life is like in Australia.

While I was in Sydney, I learned the importance of experiencing new cultures and the valuable perspective they bring. During my time at TNT, my coworkers and I would often have a variety of conversation about life in Australia and in the United States. These topics would cover everything from sports to politics and everything in between. During these discussions I realized that Americans could learn a lot from going around the world and speaking to people from different cultures. I found out during my time in Australia that Aussies tend to do so things differently in their country that Americans could learn from; including but not limited to stricter gun control laws and the elimination of plastic bags from major stores. Although there were a lot of things that Americans can learn from Australians, I found that my coworkers were able to learn that Americans were much more proficient in offering work experience to college students and positioning athletes for life after sports. Both cultures are very similar and have their flaws but ultimately, I feel that by travelling and interacting with someone different from yourself, you can learn how to ultimately better the person who you are.

One of the things I liked most about TNT was how diverse the work place was. On my immediate team of colleagues, I worked with people from Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Jordan, Brazil, and Samoa. Although this was challenging at first since the variances in cultural taste sometimes made for confusion amongst the team, it was a valuable learning experience on how to navigate a multi-cultural team. After settling into my role with the team, I enjoyed getting to know all of their backgrounds as it was interesting to learn about the world from someone’s eyes who grew up in a completely different part of the world from me. It was not only interesting to hear about their stories and cultures, but it also made me appreciate where I grew up all the more as I was never threatened with political unrest or religious persecution.

My job within TNT specifically was with the Workplace Risk department, where we managed injuries and safety concerns of the company’s drivers and dock hands. By working in this department, it gave me a view of operations and logistics that I hadn’t considered before. It wasn’t a view focused on improving efficiency or reducing cost or time; but of one that focused on the most important aspect of the business, the people that make up its backbone. One of TNT’s main focuses is keeping the people it employs safe; and my job was to improve the safety reporting system for the entire country. Although my job mainly dealt with building an excel spread sheet to capture all this data efficiently, I feel that it has revolutionized the way I’ll view my job moving forward. Although profits and achieving maximum customer satisfaction are important, they pale in comparison to the importance of keeping those we are responsible for safe. Moving forward, I hope to bring an emphasis on safety to whatever company I may be working for in the future.

Finally, I feel like my time in Sydney this summer made me much more confident as a person. I mentioned previously that I was in charge of redesigning safety reporting for the entire country. This was the first time I was given a task in any of my internships that was of great importance to a company. I not only felt like an actual employee of the company instead of an intern, but I also felt valued by my fellow colleagues and I hopefully was able to make them feel valued as feel. This was the first time I truly felt like I was part of a company rather than just passing through onto something bigger and better. I feel more confident not because I was able to succeed, but because I was able to push through various amounts of struggle in order to succeed. I look forward to seeing what this newfound resilience and confidence can do for me in the future.

I feel that my time in Sydney, Australia with TNT Express has advanced me not only in my pursuit to enjoy a successful career but also as a person. I was able to make new friends from various countries & cultures across not only Australia but the world; in doing so I was able to gain so many new valuable perspectives on life. I was able to put myself in challenging situations both in the office and while exploring the country that took courage and resilience to overcome which has helped me to believe in myself and be a more confident person. Finally, my time in Australia has shown me the true importance and value of traveling the world and experience other cultures. I’m not sure when my next international adventure will be, but I can guarantee that there will be a next time. My ultimate goal is to travel the world as much as possible because I know that I will be rewarded vastly every time I do.